A lot of Eagles fans anticipated a tough matchup against the Arizona Cardinals today. It didn’t happen. The Philadelphia Eagles dominated the first quarter, scoring three touchdowns while keeping Arizona off the scoreboard. The second quarter was a little bit rocky, but the Eagles managed to keep a firm lead going into the second half. An incredible catch-and-score by Nelson Agholor appeared to sap what little drive the Cardinals had left and Philly would go on to win the game 34 to seven.
Week Five Philadelphia Eagles Takeaways
Wisniewski is the Clear Winner of the Left Guard Rotation
With Stefen Wisniewski in the game in the first quarter, the Eagles had three passing touchdowns. In the second quarter, the Eagles inexplicably subbed Chance Warmack in for Wisniewski and subsequently had their worst quarter of the game. The rotation continued throughout the remainder of the game and the contrast was telling: Warmack hinders the offense.
Carson was under pressure more and the run game was less effective with Warmack in. Towards the end of the game, a holding penalty on Warmack even negated a touchdown carry by LeGarrette Blount. Calling back the score hardly affected the outcome of the game, but it was still frustrating.
Barring a snap count limit, it’s hard to imagine any reason for the rotation. Wisniewski has clearly outplayed Warmack in previous games as well. The Eagles can’t afford to put their least-effective players in the rotation against a four-and-one Panthers team next week.
Bringing Back the Barner was the Right Move… for the Special Teams
Kenjon Barner may be one of the lesser-known Eagles on the current roster, but his impact was felt today. Barner averaged 36.7 yards per punt return and granted the Eagles great field position early and often. The loss of Darren Sproles was expected to dramatically weaken the Eagles special teams’ production. Barner’s addition to the team (again) mitigates that loss.
Barner also had a small, but positive, effect on the run game. He only rushed for 23 yards, but his five carries were more efficient than undrafted rookie Corey Clement‘s. Neither back replaced Wendell Smallwood‘s production adequately. Luckily, Blount’s 74 yards were enough to keep Arizona from keying in on the Eagles passing game too much.
That being said, the Cardinals are a tough team to rush against. The Eagles gained nearly 200 more yards in the passing game despite a nearly-even run-pass ratio.
Swagholor is Here to Stay
There were legitimate concerns that Nelson Agholor’s performance in week one was a fluke. Agholor was a big disappointment in his first two seasons and Eagles fans were reluctant to give him the benefit of the doubt this season. Agholor’s four receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown should assure any remaining doubters that he’s a quality starter. Today’s game should put him ahead of Alshon Jeffery and just behind receiving leader Zach Ertz.
Agholor’s 72-yard touchdown catch was phenomenal. After beating the safety for the catch, he evaded what should have been a sure tackle with some exceptional footwork. Hands down, it was the play of the game.
Bonus Takeaway: The Wentz Wagon is Rolling Again
Carson Wentz had his third 300-yard game of the season today. He’s now thrown 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Three of his four touchdowns came on third down, an area that he struggled in last year. Wentz has clearly improved from year one to year two, exhibiting a Russell Wilson-like climb into the periphery of great quarterbacks.