Even though I was aware that the Arizona Cardinals were a team on the decline, especially without star running back David Johnson, yesterday’s game at Lincoln Financial field didn’t go as I expected. And that really didn’t have too much to do with a sub-par Cardinals squad. When you’ve been a Philadelphia Eagles fan as long as I have, you come to expect certain things from the team. At the top of the list is a disappointing end to the season. We’ve all experienced that pain. The second thing that myself and most Eagles fans have come to expect, is that the team will play down to the level of the competition. The Eagles have made a career out of losing games that they should win, if not that, the Eagles will certainly find a way to make what should be a very easy ‘W’ extremely difficult. Taking this into account, why should I have believed that yesterday’s game against a bad Arizona Cardinals team would be any different?
The Eagles started off quickly. Especially the offense, who put together a solid, time consuming first drive, and capped it off when Carson Wentz hit TE Tre Burton for a 15 yard score. Wentz threw two more first quarter touchdowns. An 11 yarder to TE Zach Ertz, and a 59 yard bomb to WR Torrey Smith. The Eagles were up 21-0 heading into the 2nd quarter. I was happy, but still a little skeptical. This was looking far too easy, and if history had shown me one thing with this team, it was that they never make things easy. The tables surely had to turn right? The Cardinals looked like they were going to get back into the game early in the 2nd quarter when they drove down the field, and capped the drive off with a 13 yard TD pass from Carson Palmer to John Brown. That was the “here we go again” moment for me. Strangely, that would be the only moment on this day. The Eagles took care of business yesterday. In all three aspects of the game. Special teams came up big yesterday, with huge return after return by RB Kenyon Barner. The Eagles defense smothered Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense. The passing game was ineffective, and the Cardinals ground attack was non-existent. Meanwhile, the Eagles offense basically did whatever they wanted. Carson Wentz ended the day with 304 passing yard and 4 touchdowns. Once the Eagles got comfortably ahead, they gave the keys to the car to LaGarrette Blount, who once again led the rushing attack in time consuming fourth quarter drives. That seems to be coach Doug Pederson’s strategy. Get a lead, then let Blount pound a tired defense. Blount came into the game in the 4th quarter completely fresh, against a tired Cardinals defense, and trucked them. Blount is like a runaway freight train when he gets going downhill. Nobody wants to go head-on with a runaway freight train, especially not a tired defense that has been on the field most of the day. The Eagles easily beat the Cardinals 34-7.
The victory moves the Eagles to 4-1 on the season, and sole possession of first place in the NFC East. The Eagles are clearly the best team in the division. The win-less Giants sit alone in the basement at 0-5. The Cowboys took an ‘L’ yesterday to drop to under .500 at 2-3. And the Redskins sit in second place at 2-2. Yeah, I know what you Skins, Giants, and Cowboys fans are saying right now. “Ya’ll start off good every year, but are never at the top at the end of the year.” In most cases, that’s true, but something about this season seems different. Not so much that everybody else in the division is complete trash, but more about this Eagles team. They are a complete package. Carson Wentz is a lot better than most people give him credit for, and now he has some weapons to throw the ball to in Torrey Smith, Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffrey, and an emerging Nelson Aghalor. The defense looks spectacular. While the secondary is not great, they are getting the job done this season. And the defensive front line…..the Eagles defensive line might be the best in the league. If you don’t believe me, ask any one of the five quarterbacks who have played against them this season. This might be our year. This really might be our year. Why the hell not? The Eagles winning the Super Bowl wouldn’t even be close to the strangest thing that’s happened in the world this year. The Birds have a short week, and a huge test, when they face Cam Newton and a dangerous Panthers squad on Thursday night.