Eagles

“We’re Going to Minneapolis!”: Ten Takeaways from the Eagles’ 38-7 NFC Championship Beatdown

DREW HALLOWELL | PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

WE’RE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!

The Eagles absolutely dismantled the Vikings in the NFC Championship game. It didn’t feel real to me until the two minute warning when Nick Foles ran off the field, hyping the crowd up while Nate Sudfeld went under center to take a knee to run the clock out. That’s when my eyes welled up.

Without getting too far ahead of myself, let’s look to the takeaways from the NFC title game.

1. One drive aside, the defense balled out.

When I saw Kyle Rudolph running wide open behind Najee Goode I thought the Birds were in for a long night. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Aside from the first drive of the game, the Birds held the Vikings offense in check. The next drive Chris Long beat his man and got a hand on Case Keenum, forcing a bad throw right into the arms of Patrick Robinson and the rest was history. Kudos to Ronald Darby for coming from way behind the play to come up and put a body on Jerick McKinnon to give PRob the lane he needed to get into the end zone.’

Fast forward two drives, the Vikings have the ball at the Eagles 18 down seven points. The Vikings tried to seal off Derek Barnett with a tight end. Bad idea, Pat Shurmur. Barnett easily beat the tight end to strip-sack Keenum. It was recovered by, none other than Chris Long. That turnover resulted in an Eagles touchdown.

Even deep into garbage time the Birds tightened up in the red zone. Ronald Darby broke up a Keenum pass that hung in the air just long enough for Corey Graham to intercept. The Eagles ran the clock out on that drive.

This defense is hot right now, I can’t wait to see how they perform at the Super Bowl.

2. Doug Pederson is the real Coach of the Year.

The NFL writers picked Sean McVay as coach of the year. I like what McVay did in Los Angeles; he turned the Rams around and made them into a legitimate playoff team. He is a good coach.

That said, I think Doug Pederson has been the better coach all year. He beat McVay head to head, beat the team that beat McVay in the playoffs, and dismantled the Vikings when it mattered most. He did this all without his MVP Quarterback, starting left tackle, starting middle linebacker, special teams ace, starting kicker, and punt returner/swiss army knife running back. Doug Pederson has been the best coach in the year and is being disrespected, just like his team.

Doug had his team ready for this game. He’s a master game planner, a leader of men, and one of the best coaches in football right now.

3. Nicky Six!

If you told me that  Nick Foles would go 26/33 for 352 yard and three touchdowns in then NFC Championship game against the consensus number one defense in football I would have called you a liar.

He did it, though. He ripped the Vikings to shreds. He took what all the critics said about “just don’t lose the game” and “do enough to win” and shoved it down their throats. He looked like 27-2 Nick Foles.

I can’t narrow down a “best throw of the game” but my favorite three had to be the three touchdown passes.

Here’s the first one, he stands strong in the pocket, avoids the pressure and heaves the ball down field to a wide open, and I mean WIDE OPEN Alshon Jeffery. Check it out:

 

The second one was probably better than the first. Here Nick Foles takes his first ever Flea Flicker and put the deep ball where only Torrey Smith can make a play on it. This was a beautiful ball, check it out:

Finally, my favorite throw of the night was the one that meant the least. His third touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery was the play the fans have been waiting for. It wasn’t the back shoulder fade, but he boxed out Trae Waynes and caught the ball like a rebound in basketball just as advertised. Check it out:

Nick Foles played damn near perfect. Give the man some props!

4. Big V played big.

Yeah he did. He neutralized one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, Everson Griffen. This was the matchup that everyone was afraid of, the one that could cost the Eagles the game. Big V stepped up to the plate and on the biggest stage of his career he pitched a shut out.

This is huge for the Eagles. If that performance was the real Big V I feel super confident in him as the future protector of Carson Wentz’s blindside. I still think offensive line is a need in the draft this season, but this performance from Big V opens the Eagles up to draft the best player available instead of having to reach for a lineman with their first pick.

I know, I’m getting ahead of myself talking about the draft. The point is that Halapoulivaati Vaitai shut out a Pro Bowl defensive end in the NFC Championship game. His performance was paramount to the Eagles offensive success. Give that man the game ball.

5. AJ17, Nelly, T-Smith, and ZErtz.

The pass catchers for the Eagles were on fire in the NFC Championship game. Here’s how the stats:

Alshon Jeffery: Five catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns

Nelson Agholor: Three catches for 59 yards

Torrey Smith: Five catches for 69 yards and one touchdown

Zach Ertz: Eight catches for 93 yards

When they were called upon they answered the call. With the exception of the Torrey Smith drop on the opening drive, the pass catchers did a great job of making plays. This is due to equal parts game plan, great throws, great protection, and steady hands. Kudos to the coaching staff and the players.

6. Rookie Watch 2017-18.

Derek Barnett: It all came full circle. Derek Barnett was picked with the Vikings first round pick that the Eagles acquired by trading Sam Bradford. Barnett came up with a strip-sack in the clutch when the Vikings were driving to even the score or bring it to 14-10. He beat his man and made a huge play. He has a bright future in Philly.

Shelton Gibson: Gibson took a bad penalty on the Eagles first punt. He ran right into the return man after he called for a fair catch. That won’t fly next week in the Super Bowl. Lucky for him the defense bailed him out with a pick six on that drive. I’m not saying I want him cut, but his future isn’t as clear as others.

Corey Clement: South Jersey’s own! Clement’s only catch of the game came on a third down, short of the sticks. He caught the swing pass and ran through a tackler to get the first down. That was his best play of the game. He added two runs for twenty yards. He’s a good addition to this back field, he brings a lot to the table.

Jake Elliott: Legatron hit all five of his extra point attempts and a 38 yard field goal. I don’t want to see a kicker battle next season, it needs to be Jake Elliott.

7. Chris Long and Patrick Robinson are worth every penny.

Chris Long and Patrick Robinson were arguably the two best additions the Eagles made this past offseason. Long has been making plays all season long and had fingerprints on two turnovers in the NFC Championship game. While he doesn’t light up the stat sheet, he is a leader in the locker room which is an underrated part of his game.

Patrick Robinson, on the other hand had one of the best years of his career. He had the momentum shifting interception and was a damn good slot cornerback for one of the best defenses in football. This was a great signing by Howie Roseman.

8. Clean football.

This was one of the cleanest games of football I’ve ever seen. The Eagles only had four penalties for 55 yards. Two of them were unsportsmanlike conducts, and one of them came deep into garbage time. The Eagles played a clean, disciplined game. They will need to play an equally disciplined game two weeks from now in Minnesota.

9. Coaching stock up.

I’ll keep this one short: John DeFilippo’s coaching stock is way up after Nick Foles performance in the NFC Championship game. The way Nick Foles dismantled the best defense in football is a good reflection of his coaching. DeFilippo has been linked to the Cardinals job so that is something to keep an eye on.

10. Enjoy the moment, but we got one more!

This is the Eagles first Super Bowl appearance since the 2004 season. Enjoy the moment, we deserve this as a fan base. We are the best fans in football and we created a hostile environment for opposing teams. The road to the Super Bowl had to run through Philadelphia and no team could step up the challenge of winning in South Philly.

The journey isn’t over yet, the Eagles still have one more game. The Eagles have been disrespected and counted out, and I expect that to continue this week. They need to prepare for the fight of their lives and I think they will rise to the occasion, check out Doug Pederson’s locker room speech.

 

We’re not done YET!

 


You can follow Anthony Mazziotti on Twitter (@AntMazziotti) and e-mail him at anthonymazziottiwriting@gmail.com. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.

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