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Ten Takeaways from the Eagles’ 31-3 Suffocation of the Bears

Well, that was easy.

The Philadelphia Eagles put away a lesser opponent in a completely one-sided victory. Where have we seen this before?

This was a dominating performance, one that needed to happen before heading on a three game road trip to Seattle, Los Angeles, and North Jersey. The Eagles have proven time and time again that they are the best team in football at this point in time. Without further ado, let’s look at the ten biggest takeaways from the Eagles tenth win of the season.

1. Carson Wentz is the leading MVP candidate.

Carson Wentz is hands down the leading MVP candidate. I know Tom Brady is still out there doing his thing, but Wentz is leading the best team in football.

Wentz went 23/36 for 227 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. He added 29 rush yards on five attempts as well. Wentz appeared to be what we’ve become accustomed to seeing: someone who is in complete control of the game when he is on the field.

On the season Carson Wentz has thrown for 2657 yards with 28 touchdowns and five interceptions. These are MVP numbers. Get [stay] excited, Philadelphia.

2. “Wertz” was back in action again.

After only connecting twice for eight yards last week, Zach Ertz became the first Eagles receiver to eclipse 100 yards in a game this season. Week 12 and the Eagles didn’t have a 100 yard receiver. Crazy, right? Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis didn’t let that narrative go once Ertz got within 15 yards.

It was nice to see the connection back in full swing this afternoon. Ertz finished the day with 10 catches for 103 yards and one touchdown. This touchdown was good for Ertz’s seventh of the year.

He is Wentz’s security blanket and these two are always on the same page. The “Wertz” connection gives this offense another layer of depth, I was happy to see it back again.

3. Alshon Jeffery needs to stay in midnight green.

Sign Alshon Jeffery soon, please.

Outside of Ertz, Jeffery has become Wentz’s most reliable target. The chemistry is growing between the two and Wentz tries to get Jeffery going early and often. I’ve gone on and on about his importance in the past, now it’s time to get serious. AJ17 needs to be in midnight green next season. For one, check out this touchdown pass-and-grab:

Then check out this back-shoulder throw that we’ve been hearing about for what seems like an eternity:

Like I said before, as the chemistry blossoms between Wentz and Jeffery the touchdowns will follow. Jeffery has seven touchdowns on the year.

4. Torrey Smith should see less time.

I liked the Torrey Smith signing. It was a low risk move by the front office for a team that didn’t have much to offer at the wide receiver position. Now that Ertz, Jeffery and Nelson Agholor have emerged, I think it is fair to say that Smith doesn’t need the targets he is getting. If you still want to use him as a homerun threat, fine, but throwing to him on a slant route is silly.

Ideally, I would like to see more of Mack Hollins in his place, but I would settle to see his targets decrease.

5. The backfield is exciting to watch.

The three-headed monster of LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, and Corey Clement have quietly given the Eagles one of (if not the) best rushing attacks in the NFL.

Blount is a bruiser who is surprisingly athletic and is getting the bulk of the carries. Sunday, he racked off 97 yards on 15 carries. He had a few big runs, this one being my favorite:

Ajayi adds a level of explosiveness that Clement and Blount just don’t have. He was bottled up for most of the day but still found a way to make an impact. Here is the play:

It was tough to see him fumble at the end of that run, but the Eagles still found a way to get six points. Ajayi added a nice catch on a screen pass for a third down conversion. And we shouldn’t be killing Ajayi for that, like Ray Diddy did on Postgame Live.

I’ll get to Clement in a minute…

6. Rookie Watch 2017.

Derek Barnett: The rookie defensive end came crashing down to Earth on Sunday’s game against the Bears. That’s a little dramatic, but Barnett was outplayed by Vinny Curry. Barnett didn’t register any sacks or tackles but got a handful of decent pressures on Mitch Trubisky. Hopefully he bounces back next week.

Rasul Douglas: Douglas forced a turnover (read: two turnovers) in limited snaps deep into garbage time. This guy has some serious skills; I’m intrigued to how they will find a way to utilize him in the near and distant future.

Corey Clement: Clement had a pedestrian day of the office by the standards he set in previous weeks. He rushed four times for 27 yards and had one catch for 12 yards. He had a couple clutch plays in pass protection as well. Clement is a good piece to have in this offense, he is thriving in a slasher/third down back role.

Elijah Qualls: If I didn’t include this you probably wouldn’t have known that the sixth round pick out of Washington suited up in place of Beau Allen. Qualls didn’t play much but he jumped offsides on one occasion. He is nothing more than depth at this point.

Nate Gerry: Much like Qualls, Gerry didn’t play much on Sunday. If Joe Walker is out for an extended period of time then Gerry will climb the depth chart, but he is nothing more than a project and a special teamer at this point in time. I believe Gerry recorded a tackle on a kickoff or punt in Sunday’s game.

Shelton Gibson: Gibson got his first taste of NFL action on Sunday. I was surprised he got the look over Marcus Johnson, but I like Gibson’s homerun ability as a deep threat. I’m excited to see if he can become that in the future, but today he didn’t do anything.

Jake Elliott: Legatron nailed all of his extra point attempts and his lone field goal attempt. On the down side, he did kick on ball out of bounds on a kickoff. I still believe he has the kicking job locked up but he is leaving room for doubt.

7. The Eagles actually had a somewhat sloppy game.

It’s hard to look at a 31-3 win and be critical, but the Eagles played a less-than-perfect game. I know for a fact Halapoulivaati Vaitai had two holding calls and the defense jumped offsides a couple of times. The Eagles were flagged 11 times for 70 yards. This turned out to be a non-factor but it needs to be cleaned up moving forward.

In addition to the penalties the Eagles had a case of the butterfingers. Malcolm Jenkins had an interception early but fumbled it away, LeGarrette Blount had two fumbles, and Jay Ajayi had one as well. The Jenkins one was kind of flukey (call me a homer all you want), but I expect more of our running backs. Coach Duce Staley will make it a point to work on ball security this week at practice.

8. This defense just gets better and better.

I feel like I say it every week, but this defense is so much fun to watch. The Birds defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown since Demaryius Thomas had a one-yard receiving touchdown on November 4.

The run defense continues to show why it’s the best in football; the Bears only ran for 6 yards on Sunday.

From the top to the bottom this is an amazing group to watch. It wouldn’t shock me if Jim Schwartz is one of the most sought after head coaching candidates at the end of the season. He is a mastermind and his defense is playing lights out for him.

Hot take alert: Brandon Graham is the best player on this defense. Fletcher Cox is the popular pick but I’m starting to lean more toward Graham.  Today he had five tackles and a strip sack. He is a captain of the team and the anchor of the defensive line. He should be in Pro Bowl talks as he is consistently a nightmare for opposing offenses. He is under contract through next season, but I think he has earned an extension and should finish his career as an Eagle. Love you, 55.

9. The Eagles are the best celebrating team in football.

This goes without saying. Here are the highlights of the best celebrations the best team in football has to offer.

First we look to Alshon Jeffery’s celebration:

Jeffery rolled an imaginary ball at the 10 pins and they all fell down because he bowled a strike. Awesome celebration, perfect execution. I’m so thankful for group celebration.

Next we skip ahead to garbage time, after the alleged Rasul Douglas interception. The defense, including the starters who have been benched, break out into the electric slide.

After the play was overruled, the Eagles forced a turnover a few plays later on a tipped ball by Douglas, caught by Corey Graham. How did they celebrate? By recording a second electric slide.

I love this team. I love this team so much.

10. This is the best coached team in football.

To end this on a serious note: the Eagles have the hottest coach in football. Doug Pederson is a legitimate coach of the year candidate and this team loves playing for him. His game-planning has been so good that the Eagles haven’t been in a competitive game since the Carolina Panthers game on October 12.

This team truly buys into the “one week at a time” “go 1-0 every week” mentality and that starts at the top. From Doug Pederson to Jim Schwartz, Frank Reich, and Dave Fipp, to the position coaches like John DeFilippo, Mike Groh, and Cory Undlin, the coaches of this team built the perfect clubhouse with an amazing culture.

I’m 24 years old, I don’t remember a lot about the 2004 Eagles team, but what I do know is this: the 2017 Eagles team is the best Eagles team I’ve ever seen. This team is different, they are a special unit and it starts at the top. Shout out to Howie Roseman and the front office for seeing it all along.

The Eagles will head west for their next matchup; they take on the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday night on national television. And, a flexed Eagles-Rams game to Sunday night may follow the next week.

You can follow Anthony Mazziotti on Twitter (@AntMazziotti) and e-mail him at [email protected]. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram

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