Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles overreactions: Why that's a good win, not a great win


If you've watched one game from the 2022 Eagles, it seems you've watched them all.

On Sunday night the NFL's last undefeated team was explosive in the first half, woeful in the third quarter, and good enough to salt away the win in the fourth.

Beating the Cowboys is never a given, especially when they boast a defense this talented, but the win could've felt better... even though it still felt pretty darn good.

Let's overreact to the Birds' sixth straight win to start this season:

1. Seriously, the second half needs to get fixed

It's going to feel like deja vu, but we're once again talking about a largely lifeless second half from the Eagles... and it seems like this problem isn't going away. 

Which is bad news.

The Eagles have just four second-half touchdowns this season through six games, two of which came in the first game of the season against a sieve-like Detroit Lions defense.

Sure, the Lane Johnson injury didn't help. And yes, part of this is that they build huge leads in the first half and then coast.

But I don't want them to coast. I need the same foot-on-the-gas aggression they show in the first and second quarters to carry over to the second half. 

The problem, however, is aggression doesn't always need to be passing the ball. The Eagles had two drives and just nine plays in the third quarter. For some reason, despite missing Lane Johnson coming out of the locker room, seven of those plays were passes.

It's the same thing I was frustrated about last week: why do Shane Steichen and Nick Sirianni inexplicably forget that they're great at running the ball? And that this team is uniquely built to successfully run the ball because of the guy who plays quarterback?

Instead of just dropping Hurts back and trying to attack with straight-ahead passes, how about you show the same creativity that you showed on this play design, which wound up in the end zone:

That's aggression. That's getting the most out of your personnel. That's attacking football.

This Dallas team is good. There's no shame in the game being close. But there is shame in watching a game completely flit away and out of your control when you'd built a huge lead, especially when you're the better team. The Eagles are one of the league's best teams. Can't happen.

Luckily Sirianni and Steichen woke up and remembered that running is actually good, stringing together a game-clinching fourth-quarter series with runs aplenty just like last week. What took them so long? Great question.

There's so much to like about what Nick Sirianni is doing with this team, but the second-half struggles are a real concern and I need them to figure it out during the week off.

2. James Bradberry is one of Howie's best deals ever

Brandon Brooks. Malcolm Jenkins. Evan Mathis. Alshon Jeffery.

Howie Roseman has made a number of incredible free agency moves that have shaped the Eagles during his time as general manager, and if James Bradberry keeps playing at this level it's clear the one-year deal he inked Bradberry to back in May will join those ranks.

Because right now the Eagles basically have two CB1s. They could wind up with a pair of corners in the Pro Bowl. It feels like a throwback to the days of Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard, and it's amazing.

Bradberry absolutely balled out Sunday night against Cooper Rush and the Cowboys, looking every bit as spry, athletic, and anticipatory as he has all season long. 

The 29-year-old corner was crucial in creating the first of Rush's interceptions Sunday night, deflecting a ball intended for Michael Gallup into C.J. Gardner-Johnson's awaiting hands:

Then in the second quarter Bradberry flashed on a crucial fourth-down stop, soaring to break up a pass aimed at Peyton Hendershot:

He was generally all over the field, making big plays and keeping the Cowboys under wraps.

It certainly helped that the Eagles were facing Cooper Rush instead of Dak Prescott, and the Birds admittedly haven't faced a murderer's row of quarterback talent this season.

But you can only play the guys you line up against, and so far Bradberry has been the exact piece the Eagles needed at corner across from Slay to really unlock this defense's potential.

3. Michael Clay should be gone during the bye week

Michael Clay has been the Eagles' special teams coordinator for a mere 23 regular season games, but I've seen plenty. It's time to turn the page to a new face at the position.

Jake Elliott is still a monster from distance, but Arryn Siposs is actively hurting this team, punt and kickoff coverage could stand to be improved, and on a team with very few weaknesses special teams certainly feel like one right now.

Last year Eagles special teams finished a woeful 21st in Rick Gosselin's trusted end-of-year special teams rankings last season, and this year things don't feel any better.

On Sunday night, a miserably-timed KaVontae Turpin kick return right before halftime allowed the Cowboys to get points and get their first sniff of momentum which then ballooned in the second half.

Inexplicably, the Eagles still kicked to Turpin again in the second half and he nearly broke another one off for a big chunk were it not for a Dallas penalty.

Special teams were a true strength during the Chip Kelly years, and were perfectly fine during Doug Pederson's tenure, but Clay's time as the ST coordinator under Sirianni has been a disaster and eventually this unit's poor performance is going to bite them.

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