The Philadelphia Eagles have yet to play their best football, yet they find themselves at 5-0. After taking care of the Los Angeles Rams, 23-14, on Sunday afternoon, the Eagles hold a perfect record for the second straight season through five weeks. Nick Sirianni became just the 8th NFL head coach since the 1970 merger to lead his team to back-to-back 5-0 starts with the win. He joins his buddies Andy Reid, Tony Dungy, Mike Martz, Mike Shanahan, Mike Ditka, Tom Landry and Bud Grant.
This game was the best win of the season, as the Birds, for the most part, played soundly on both sides of the ball. The Rams are certainly a better team than their record would suggest, especially as they had Cooper Kupp back to flank budding star rookie receiver Puka Nacua. It was a battle for much of the action, but the Philly defense stepped up big time with a shutout second half. Let's get into the biggest takeaways of the Eagles' win without further ado.
Dallas Goedert is Alive!
The Eagles figured out that tight end Dallas Goedert exists this week after a very slow start to the season. He had just one target in Week 1, followed by six catches for 22 yards, five for 41 yards, and two for 25 yards. This week, Goedert caught eight of his nine targets for 117 yards and one touchdown. No. 88 is among the top 4-5 tight ends in the NFL when he is on his game, and he set the tone early on Sunday with his physicality. Goedert was Jalen Hurts' favorite target on the first drive, as three of Hurts' six completed passes were to his tight end, ending with a six-yard touchdown pass and catch.
Jalen Carter has Eyes on DROY
Former Georgia Bulldog Jalen Carter continues to look like a massive steal for Philadelphia. The ninth overall pick kept his dominant start against the Rams, as he sacked Matthew Stafford twice. That brings his season total to 3.5 sacks, right toward the top of the sack leaderboard. The most sacks for a rookie defensive tackle all-time was 14.5 by Jevon Kearse in 1999. The current pace that Carter is on would put him at 12 sacks after 17 games, which would be one behind the total for Eagles' legend Reggie White in 1985. He also has a great chance to reach or surpass Aaron Donald's nine sacks as a rookie in 2014. It's obviously more than just sacks, as Carter also has two forced fumbles, four TFLs, and four QB hits and is one of the most explosive DTs in creating pressure on the quarterback. He already looks like a veteran out on the gridiron with the way he has taken over games right in the middle of the already dominant Eagles' front seven. He tossed Stafford around like a rag doll.
Carter will be a dominant force for years to come and is currently the heavy favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year at -175. That's after he began the season at +800 to win the award.
Haason Reddick, the Game-Wrecker
After getting his cast off before last week, Haason Reddick has fully arrived this season. After recording zero sacks with the cast on due to thumb surgery, Reddick is now up to three sacks over the last two games. All three have come at impact times, as well. Last week, he got to Commanders' quarterback Sam Howell to bring up a 3rd-and-17 which Washington failed to convert. Then this week, he closed the game out for the Birds. On back-to-back plays, Reddick sacked Stafford to force a turnover on downs, before the Eagles ran out the clock. Not only did the hybrid linebacker record those two big sacks, he also had a QB hit and two TFLs.
Red Zone Offense is Still Not Great, Bob
The Eagles continue to struggle mightily in turning red-zone chances into points. In their first three drives of the second half, they went over 70 yards in each but scored just six points total. The drives were seven plays, 75 yards; 17 plays, 83 yards; and ten plays, 72 yards. It didn't hurt against Los Angeles, but once the Birds get into the meat of their schedule (which is coming up), it isn't fly - and neither will they. Philly has found paydirt on just four of their last ten legit red zone trips (two others were end-of-game scenarios). They have converted 42.11 percent of their red zone trips on the season to points. Only five teams in the NFL rank below them, which is really bad, considering they were top three last year. With the talent the Eagles are working with, they will have to develop better play calls down in the red zone. Instead of trying to get too cute, they have to use their players to the best of their abilities. One of the issues has been not consistently sticking with D'Andre Swift in the red zone and having Kenneth Gainwell on the field. Six of the eight red zone drives with Gainwell getting a touch weren't end-of-game scenarios. Of those six, only one resulted in a touchdown, while there was one turnover on downs and four field goals. A vast difference is seen with the red zone drives where Swift has gotten a touch. The Eagles have scored on all nine of those instances, including six ending in a touchdown. That's 1/6 against 6/9 (nice) for scoring a touchdown. There is no excuse for giving Gainwell close to the same snaps as Swift, especially in crucial situations and in the red zone.
Philly Loves the Brotherly Shove and Hurts
Although he threw an interception, Hurts had his best game to date on Sunday. The gunslinger completed 65.8 percent of his throws for 303 yards and one touchdown while also finding his legs as a runner with 15 carries for 72 yards (4.8 average). On the touchdown pass, he threw it right on the money into a tight window to Goedert. He used his legs very effectively, especially when the offense needed him to do so. Instead of sliding as he has often early in the year, he did what we are accustomed to seeing: getting the extra yardage no matter what and putting his body on the line for the team. And then you have the Brotherly Shove, which continues to be nearly flawless. Outside of two failed attempts at the end of the game that had no barring on the final result, the Eagles were perfect on the play once again. Maybe if the Rams had 11 Aaron Donalds on defense, they could stop it.
Defense Starts Cold, Finishes Hot
The Eagles' defense started very slow, with the return of Kupp certainly not helping. It was all Kupp on the Rams' first drive. Stafford completed five passes to the now-healthy No. 1 receiver - of 17, 11, 8, 12, and 8 yards. But after allowing a second touchdown late in the first half, the Philadelphia defense, led by defensive coordinator Sean Desai, held it down. That second touchdown was of the 22-yard variety to rookie phenom receiver Puka Nacua, and a 39-yard pass to Kupp aided the drive. Then, in the second half, with Desai making the proper adjustments, the Eagles shut out the Rams. That team was averaging 10.5 in the second half coming into the week. Philly allowed a TOTAL of 95 yards on five Los Angeles possessions that went: punt, punt, punt, TO on downs, end of the game. The Rams didn't run a single offensive play on the Eagles' side of the 50 after the first half.
Next up: at Jets on Sunday, October 15 at 4:25 p.m. on FOX
Main Image Credit: From Getty Images