Roob's Obs: Hurts is special, Sanders explodes, and more


The fact that they clinched a playoff spot and nobody even cares tells you all you need to know about the 2022 Eagles.

Last year, reaching the postseason was something to celebrate, with a rookie head coach after a 2-5 start. This year?  Making the playoffs has been a mere formality for weeks. Now it’s all about locking up the No. 1 seed and getting to Arizona.

The Eagles moved one big step closer to those goals Sunday with a 48-22 demolition of the Giants, improving to 12-1 for just the second time in franchise history.

MORE: Eagles overreactions: Why Hurts' best play Sunday was boring

They ran for 251, they threw for 217, they scored on eight of 10 possessions, they shut down another elite running back, they recorded five more sacks and they just were unstoppable for 60 minutes.

Good lord, this team is magnificent.

Here’s our 10 Observations off another Eagles’ win.

1. The crazy thing is the Eagles were already the best team in the NFL and they just keep getting better. This is the time you want to be playing your best football, in the stretch run, with just four games left now before the playoffs, and the Eagles are firing on all cylinders in every phase of the game. You can’t find a weakness. You can’t find an area where they’re not among the best in the league. They can beat you however they want to beat you. These last two weeks, the Eagles faced two teams that were 7-4 and 7-4-1 and won by a combined 82-24 and they could have scored more against the Titans if they wanted. Are there people still out there saying they have an easy schedule and they haven’t played anybody yet? They’re 5-1 now against teams with a winning record, and those five wins have come by an average of 20 points. So, yeah, so much for that nonsense. The reality is this is the best team in football and I’m not sure it’s even close.

2. I’m running out of ways to say Jalen Hurts is playing at a level we’ve rarely seen around here. Explosive. Consistent. Dynamic. Hurts slayed some demons Sunday, going back to the scene of his worst career game a year ago – three interceptions in a 13-7 loss. And in cold, rainy, difficult conditions he lit up a Giants team the Eagles had to beat. We’ve seen some elite QB play. Randall in 1990. Donovan in 2004. Foles in 2013 and of course the 2017 postseason. Carson before he got hurt in 2017. This stretch Hurts is on tops all of them. He was already lighting it up through five games, but since Week 6 he’s been the best player in the NFL: 68 percent, 1,798 passing yards, 18 passing TDs, 1 INT, 116.0 passer rating, plus 420 rushing yards, a 5.7 average and four more TDs. That’s just insane production.

3. As well as Hurts and the offense have been playing, the defense has been equally dominating. And like the offense, it keeps getting better. And when the offense keeps piling up the points the way it has been – 40, 35, 47 points the last three weeks – it forces teams to abandon their gameplan and start chucking the ball, and that allows the Eagles’ edge rushers to tee off, and that same pattern keeps repeating week after week. The Eagles have gone from one of the worst run defenses in the league to one of the best, and opposing offenses can no longer keep games close with the running attack. The Giants’ first TD came on a short field – 15 yards after that weird blocked punt – and their third came against the backups, but the Eagles really didn’t allow the Giants much of anything all day. Over the last month, the Eagles have shut down Jonathan Taylor (15-for-35 after the first quarter), Derrick Henry (11-for-30) and Saquon Barkley (9-for-28). They were already the NFL’s top pass defense. Now they’ve become one of the league’s best run defenses. Impressive stuff.

4. Good lord is Miles Sanders good. Another career high with 144 rushing yards, 8.5 yards per carry, two more touchdowns. Sanders is now at 1,068 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and 5.2 yards per carry, and that’s just insane production. And I love how Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen have managed him – and honestly, Doug Pederson before them. He’s never been over-used. You look at Barkley and he’s an incredible talent, but you can see him wearing down under a huge workload – more than 20 carries per game. Sanders might not be priority No. 1 this offseason for Howie, but he’s awfully close.

5. There was a lot to like about the Eagles’ first drive – 84 yards, 14 plays, touchdown to take a 7-0 lead – but one remarkable thing was that Jalen Hurts’ nine completions (in 10 attempts) on the drive went to seven different receivers: Two each to Miles Sanders and DeVonta Smith and one each to Grant Calcaterra, Boston Scott, Zach Pascal, Quez Watkins and A.J. Brown. What a way to open a game. You’re just delivering this message that we can throw to anybody at any point and good luck trying to cover them all. Brown and Smith are going to be the No. 1 targets with Dallas Goedert out, but the Eagles’ ability to involve everybody in the offense makes them even more dangerous.

6. I probably don’t write about the o-line enough in 10 Obs, and maybe they’re just so consistently and routinely fantastic we tend to take them for granted, but my goodness. This line is playing at such a stratospheric level both in the run game and the pass game. The Eagles have scored 35 or more points three games in a row for the first time since 2002, and their 123 points the last three weeks are their most since they scored 125 from Week 2 through Week 4 back in 1950. It all starts up front, and this o-line is just mauling people. Jason Kelce might be playing the best football of his life at 34 years old, Lane Johnson hasn’t played this well since before his ankle injury in 2018, Jordan Mailata has gotten more effective since his shoulder began to heal, and Landon Dickerson and Isaac Seumalo are both just solid and consistent. This line allows Shane Steichen to call anything he wants, allows Hurts to play however he wants and just can handle any situation, any defensive front, any scheme, any challenge. Just a dominating group.

7. Eagles’ defensive line has been pressuring at a consistently high level for about two months now. With seven sacks Sunday – and the Giants only threw 27 times - the Eagles now have 32 sacks in the last seven games. That ties the most sacks in franchise history in any seven-game period – the 1989 team had 32 from Week 2 through Week 8. And it’s everybody. B.G. had three more sacks Sunday and now has 8 ½, Josh Sweat added one for 7 ½, Haason Reddick reached double digits with his 10th sack and Fletcher Cox and Milton Williams added one piece. The Eagles now have five guys with 6.0 sacks. The pressure comes from everywhere, and lately nobody’s been able to stop it.

8. Ya gotta love Boston Scott. He’s just one of those guys you’re always glad he’s on your team. Scott has always been a Giants killer on offense – eight of his 15 career TDs have come against the Giants - and on Sunday he really gave the Eagles a lift in the kick return game. His 66-yarder set up a field goal just before halftime and then he contributed a 35-yarder in the third quarter to set up a touchdown. Howie Roseman gets credit for all the big moves – signing Haason Reddick, drafting DeVonta Smith, trading for A.J. Brown – but he stole Scott off the Saints’ roster in December of 2018, and Scott’s been a valuable spare part on this roster for five years.

9. This has become such an explosive, big-play offense. With TDs of 41 yards to Smith and 33 yards to Brown, Hurts has now thrown 11 touchdowns of 25 yards or more, most by an Eagles QB since Randall Cunningham had 12 in 1987 and tied for most in the league this year. The beauty of this offense is the Eagles can grind it out with those 14-play drives and they can strike lightning-quick. And you never know how they’re going to attack. I loved going up top to Brown immediately after the Giants botched that punt in the second quarter, giving the Eagles 1st-and-10 on the Giants’ 33. The Giants were in disarray at that point, and Shane Steichen knew it. He dialed up a deep shot, and it gave the Eagles a 21-0 lead. Those big plays take the heart out of a defense, out of an opponent. And nobody has shown they can stop ‘em.

10. It would have been nice if the Texans had held on and beaten the Cowboys, but it’s not going to matter in the long run. Even if the Eagles lose to the Cowboys on Christmas Eve – which I don’t think will happen – all they have to do to lock up the No. 1 seed is beat the Bears in Chicago and the Saints and Giants at home. If the Eagles win in Chicago and then beat the Cowboys, it’s over with two weeks left. If that happens, the Eagles will be 14-3 at worst and the Cowboys can’t be better than 13-4. Simply put, it will be a shock if the Eagles don’t snag that first-round bye. And if they do, I don’t think anybody can come into the Linc and beat ‘em. Going to be a fun next few weeks.

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