Eagles vs. Buccaneers: 11 winners, 2 losers, 3 IDKs

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The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-0 after beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. We’re overdue to hand out some winners, losers, and IDKs.

WINNERS

SEAN DESAI

The Eagles’ defense allowed 11 total points, eight of which came when they were playing soft late in the game. They also generated two points of their own with a safety in addition to forcing two turnovers that directly set the offense up with three points.

Desai’s unit allowed just 174 yards. Former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon allowed fewer than that total just once … and it was in the NFC Championship Game where the San Francisco 49ers mostly played without a quarterback. The Eagles gave up 164 in that one.

It’s only fair to point out that the Bucs aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut. Baker Mayfield missed a lot of throws that good quarterbacks make. Tampa entered the game with a real lackluster running game.

But the Eagles did exactly what they should’ve been expected to do and shut it down. No NFL team has allowed fewer rushing yards per game than Philly’s 48.3 average.

Early on, Desai is showing some promising signs. He’s maximizing the talent he’s been given to work with, which is what good coaching is all about.

EAGLES OFFENSIVE LINE

The Eagles owned the Bucs in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

The offensive line paved the way for 201 yards and one touchdown on 40 rushing attempts (5.0 average). They also limited the Bucs to one sack and four QB hits with Hurts being one of the NFL’s slowest quarterbacks to get rid of the ball on average this season.

The OL deserves a lot of credit for the badass drive that the Eagles went on at the end of the game. With 9:22 remaining in the fourth quarter after the Bucs scored to make it a 14-point affair, the Eagles methodically drove 68 yards in 18 plays to get the clock down to 0:00. It’s just not every week you see that kind of dominance. The Eagles’ offensive line imposed their will.

D’ANDRE SWIFT

Swift looks awesome. The Eagles have to be smart about not overworking him; he can’t handle his Week 2 workload game in and game out. Getting him 17 touches in Week 3 was pretty appropriate. Swift undoubtedly benefited from huge holes being opened up by the Eagles’ offensive line but credit him for following his blocking and generating yards after contact.

REED BLANKENSHIP

Blankenship is simply very good at football.

His interception was no gift; it was a great read (no pun intended) on Mayfield.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: he’s always in the right position, whether that’s in coverage or in run support.

Do not sleep on this guy’s ceiling.

JALEN CARTER

This guy is going to be Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Carter is the Eagles’ highest graded defender … and the NFL’s highest graded interior defender this season.

He’s a flat out beast.

That punch he had for the forced fumble? He looked like a man amongst boys out there. And it came at such a crucial time to turn a Hurts interception into an opportunity for the Eagles to get three more points to make it a two-possession game right before halftime.

Carter is well on his way to becoming a star.

JORDAN DAVIS

Davis is the Eagles’ second-highest graded defender by PFF this season, only behind Carter. He is the NFL’s sixth-highest graded interior defender. Davis has been a monster in the middle of the defensive line. He’s a big part of the Eagles’ excellent run defense and he’s demonstrated some pass-rushing juice as well.

OLAMIDE ZACCHEAUS

As noted in my Eagles-Bucs snap counts article, OZ had the same amount of yards in this game that Quez Watkins has in his last eight games combined. After barely playing in Week 1 (seven snaps) and seeing zero targets in the first two games, it’s probably time to get OZ a little more involved than not at all.

A.J. BROWN

The squeaky wheels gets the grease. Brown denied his sideline conversation with Jalen Hurts was about targets … but he finished Week 3 with 14 targets. That was twice as many as the next closest player and it was the third-highest amount of Brown’s entire career. Brown set a positive tone for the game with two catches on the Eagles’ first two passing plays. He also made a fourth down grab on the final play to allow the Eagles to run the clock out. All told, nine catches for 131 yards.

NICHOLAS MORROW

Would you believe that Morrow is PFF’s 13th-highest graded linebacker this season? He’s not a superstar or anything but he’s been pretty solid! Kinda crazy how he went from not even being on the Week 1 roster to being the Eagles’ top linebacker wearing the green dot and relaying calls from Desai. Morrow has undoubtedly benefited from playing behind a strong defensive front but, hey, he’s making the most of it. Just like we saw when he knifed through the line and into the backfield to help cause a two-point safety.

BRITAIN COVEY

It’s time to acknowledge that Covey has been much better than he was getting credit for. From August 25, when we had the Eagles keeping Covey on our 53-man roster projection:

Covey is being underrated because he struggled early on last year before becoming one of the NFL’s very best punt returners in his final 10 games.

People were quick to question his spot on the team after a bad fumble against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2. But that mistake was more of an exception than the rule. The reality is that Covey is a good punt returner!

Covey’s 52-yard punt return set the Eagles up for an eight-play, 26-yard drive that allowed them to go up 3 to 0.

THE BGN SAME GAME PARLAY ON DRAFTKINGS SPORTSBOOK

Each week, DraftKings SportsBook allows me to create an official Bleeding Green Nation same game parlay for the public to bet on if they wish.

And this week’s SGP hit! If you put down $10 on it, you would’ve won $38.

Here’s hoping I can continue to make you some money.


LOSERS

TUSH PUSH HATERS

We’ve already covered the Tush Push (The Brotherly Shove?) discourse extensively here at BGN:

I don’t have much more to add but I would like to reiterate that 1) there was no outrage about Tom Brady’s QB sneaks being unstoppable and 2) the Eagles would still be awesome at the sneak even if the league outlawed the pushing component.

Unfortunately for the haters, they’re going to have to see a whole lot more of it this season. And hopefully for much longer since there’s no legitimate reason to ban it.

Poll

The Eagles’ QB sneak play should be called …

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THE REST OF THE NFC EAST

The Eagles stand alone atop the division after watching all of their rivals lose in Week 3. The standings:

1) Philadelphia Eagles: 3-0
2) Dallas Cowboys: 2-1
3) Washington Commanders: 2-1
4) New York Giants: 1-2

And now the Birds have a nice opportunity to reach 4-0 while dropping the Commanders to 2-2.


I DON’T KNOWS

JALEN HURTS

Let’s get some acknowledgements out of the way:

  • Hurts was sick. That couldn’t have been super fun to play through.
  • It rained for portions of the game.
  • Todd Bowles is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL.

Hurts still could’ve been reasonably expected to play better than he did.

This isn’t to suggest he was bad; he’d be in the “LOSERS” section if that was the case.

Hurts did a great job of staying alive in the pocket and not dropping his eyes to fire two big throws directly over leaping defenders to Olamide Zaccheaus on the Eagles’ first touchdown drive.

I especially love how the TD ball was an anticipation throw. Quarterbacks can’t always expect their targets to get wide open; sometimes they have to throw to a spot to make them open.

Those throws were among the biggest positives.

The bad obviously involved Hurts throwing two interceptions, putting him at three on the season. That’s already half as many picks as he threw in 2022. Hurts isn’t entirely to blame for those interceptions since there seemed to be a miscommunication with D’Andre Swift on the first one and then a Bucs defender made an incredible play on the second. Still, to a larger point, Hurts is typically not good at turning the ball over and he’s already done it four times through three games. It needs to stop.

Beyond the picks, I thought Hurts missed some throws that were very much there to be made. One such example was the OZ target in the end zone on the Eagles’ first drive where he threw behind the receiver.

Zooming out a bit, Hurts just isn’t playing like the top-tier quarterback he’s being paid to be. Here’s how the Eagles’ QB ranks in a number of key categories so far:

  • 22nd in EPA per play
  • 22nd in passer rating
  • 22nd in PFF grading
  • 23rd in rushing DVOA
  • 25th in success rate
  • 25th in passing DVOA

It’s hardly unreasonable to expect more from the NFL’s fourth-highest paid player.

Let me be clear: I’m not worried about Hurts playing better moving forward. He’s earned the right to benefit of the doubt and the Bucs performance seemed to be a step in the right direction. I feel confident he can and will build on this outing.

BRIAN JOHNSON

On the bright side, the offense put up 472 yards. That’s pretty good! The Eagles gained more than that amount in just two out of their 20 games last season.

The problem is that they didn’t effectively translate moving the ball into scoring points. The Eagles scored a touchdown on just one of five trips to the red zone.

The fifth red zone trip happened when they were obviously focused on running the clock out instead of needlessly scoring. So, let’s say four red zone trips where they were actually trying to get a touchdown.

From those four trips AND another drive that started at the 37-yard line and reached as far as two yards outside of the red zone, the Eagles managed to score only nine points. That’s not going to cut it against better opponents.

Johnson deserves credit for leaning into the run game and the passing attack showed some signs of progress. But there’s still room for improvement.

KENNY GAINWELL

Low-leverage Kenny Gainwell? The guy who was trusted to close the game out on the final drive? That’s fine.

High-leverage Kenny Gainwell? The guy who got the ball on the Eagles’ 4th-and-1 attempt on their first drive? No.

More rankings from this season:

  • Rushing DVOA: Swift 3rd, Gainwell 42nd
  • Yards after contact per attempt: Swift 12th, Gainwell 47th
  • Runs of 10-plus yards: Swift t-6th, Gainwell t-42nd
  • Elusive rating*: Swift 5th, Gainwell 37th

*A PFF Signature stat measuring success and impact of a runner with the ball independently of the blocking.

And, really, forget the numbers. The eye test reveals that Swift is very clearly the superior player.

I’m having a hard time getting over how the coaching staff thought it was a good idea to give Gainwell 18 touches in Week 1. I’m not even sure he’s definitely the second-best running back on this team; Boston Scott might be better.

One would hope the coaches realized they way overvalued Gainwell and limit his role to being a rotational contributor.



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