Eagles vs. Steelers Final Score: 10 Things We Learned
The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-0 after surprisingly dominating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday by a final score of 34 to 3. Here’s a look at 10 things to be learned from this blowout win.
1 – The Eagles are better than everyone thought
Who saw this coming? The Eagles are 3-0 after beating a legitimate Super Bowl contender. And not just merely beating them. But beating them down.
After the Eagles defeated the Browns and the Bears, a lot of people chalked those wins up to the Eagles beating up on bad teams. While it’s true those teams are bad, it’s also now clear the Eagles are truly good.
Philadelphia owns the best point differential in the NFL (+65). Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz is playing like one of the best passers in the league right now. Head coach Doug Pederson continues to impress as a play-caller and schemer. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is overseeing a defense that’s allowed the least amount of points in the NFL. It’s a highly impressive group.
Expectations were relatively low for this team heading into the season. Given the Eagles’ impressive start, it’s time for the bar to be raised. This team might actually have serious potential to contend this season. Crazy times.
2 – Carson Wentz is the real deal
Wentz is the first player in NFL history with 100-plus attempts, 60-plus completions, five-plus touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first three career games. Simply put, he’s special.
Wentz’s excellence goes beyond the numbers. Turn on the tape and he continues to make jaw-dropping throws. His touchdown pass to Darren Sproles was an incredible moment. Facing third-and-eight, Wentz evaded a free rusher, scrambled to his right, and delivered a perfect pass to Sproles for a catch-and-run to the house.
The rookie quarterback still hasn’t turned the ball over. He’s making great decisions and taking what the defense is giving him while also not being afraid to take shots when warranted.
Also give credit to Wentz’s coaching. It’s clear they’re putting him in positions to succeed.
3 – Doug Pederson is an early Coach of the Year candidate
Speaking of coaching, how about this Pederson? It’s only been three games, but Pederson seems like an early Coach of the Year candidate. He came in with low expectations and he continues to defy them.
Pederson has done a great job of scheming against the Eagles’ opponents. Wentz has flashed great accuracy as a rookie, but the truth is he hasn’t always even needed it. Eagles passing targets have been running open in the secondary with room to spare.
After the game, Wentz talked about how Pederson inspires confidence in him. He praised Pederson for being a good players’ coach who is easy to communicate with. That was one of the selling points of the Pederson hire. He’s seemingly doing a good job of connecting with his players and getting the best out of him.
4 – Jim Schwartz’s defense is dominant
It was repeatedly pointed out how the Steelers were averaging nearly 32 points in their last 10 regular season games. It was assumed Pittsburgh would find a way to score against Philadelphia, but that simply wasn’t the case. The Steelers were somehow held to a mere THREE points. That’s crazy.
The Eagles have a lot of talented players on defense who deserve credit for making plays. But the defense as a whole is playing really well and it’s apparent they’re well-coached. Schwartz has overseen top seven units in his last three stops as defensive coordinator. It’s safe to say Schwartz’s Eagles tenure will be very successful if he can continue to sustain his strong start.
5 – Philadelphia’s offensive line is playing well
A big reason why the Eagles played so well on offense is because Wentz had great protection. He wasn’t sacked once and he seemed to take a lot less hits than he did in the first two weeks. The run blocking wasn’t amazing but it was improved from past weeks.
This unit seems to really be settling in. The bad news for the Eagles is that they’re potentially going to lose Lane Johnson for 10 games if his suspension appeal is unsuccessful.
6 – The Eagles might want to change up the running back rotation
Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles combined for negative six yards on four carries. The two veterans struggled to run the ball during the first two weeks. The Eagles might want to give these players less carries.
The carries should instead be going to players who have been more productive: Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner. Smallwood rushed for 79 yards and one scores on 17 attempts (4.6 average) against Pittsburgh’s stout run defense. Barner, meanwhile, had 42 yards (5.3 average) and one score on eight carries.
No one is saying Mathews and Sproles should be benched completely. Rather, their roles should decrease a little while Smallwood and Barner get more opportunities to produce.
7 – Darren Sproles is a special player
Sproles might not be providing great production as a rusher but he’s far from worthless on offense. The 33-year-old showed as much with his 73-yard touchdown reception. Sproles finished the night with 128 receiving yards. With his performance, Sproles moved into the top 10 all-time all-purpose yard leaders. He’s a special player who is in Hall of Fame company.
8 – The Eagles’ defensive line can be dangerous
Kudos to the Eagles’ defensive line for really stepping up in this game. Getting pressure against Ben Roethlisberger with the front four only was key. Fletcher Cox led the way with five tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, and one tackle for loss. He consistently found a way to generate pressure from the inside. Staring defensive end Brandon Graham also had another big game. He’s been very good in his return to the 4-3 defense. Graham had one sack, one tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery on Cox’s strip. Last, but not least, Bennie Logan had a big game. He sacked Big Ben once and was responsible for blocking the Steelers’ first field goal attempt of the game.
Philadelphia’s defense is strong as a whole, but it all starts in the trenches. The Eagles have a potentially elite defensive line group.
9 – The Eagles have one of the best safety tandems in the league
Most expected the Eagles to have a really good safety duo after the team signed Rodney McLeod in free agency. Schwartz even said he expected them to be a top pair in the league. But it’s one thing to say it and it’s another thing to prove it. The Eagles’ safeties are definitely living up to the hype. McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins have been stellar in coverage. They’re also not shy to make big hits.
The Eagles getting good play from their defensive line and their safeties has been big in offsetting their weakness at the cornerback position.
10 – The hype won’t die down anytime soon
The Eagles don’t play again until Sunday, Oct. 9. They have off in Week 4 due to the bye. That means it’s going to be two weeks of people getting very excited about this team. And that’s perfectly OK. It’s not unreasonable to be optimistic. Football is supposed to be fun. Eagles fans should enjoy their time to bask in what’s been a very promising start to the 2016 season.