Eagles overreactions: The NFC should be terrified of Jalen Hurts & Co.
Eagles overreactions: Message to NFC was loud and clear originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Playoff games are normally wrought with anxiety, close-fought contests that are one-score contests deep into the fourth quarter.
At halftime on Saturday, the Eagles' lead in their divisional round matchup vs. the Giants was so big that I decided to unload my dishwasher.
It was a start-to-finish lambasting of the G-Men from Nick Sirianni's squad, an incredibly impressive performance for Sirianni's first-ever playoff win. Jalen Hurts, also a first-time playoff winner, looked great in an offensive return to form and the defense was locked in.
Let's overreact to a postseason romp over a division rival:
1. The Eagles should fear no team
The Eagles didn't play on Wild Card weekend, and large swaths of the sports media and sports fan chatter decided to fill that vacuum with discussions of ways other teams in the NFC could advance to the Super Bowl. The 49ers looked sharp, Daniel Jones played the best game of his career, and Dallas dominated a woebegone version of Tom Brady.
But the Eagles showed Saturday night why they shouldn't fear any team.
And I don't just mean in the NFC - I mean in the NFL. The Eagles were the class of the league for the entire season and yet it started to feel over the last week like a lot of people forgot why the Birds had that time off.
The Eagles have lost just once - ONCE - this year with Jalen Hurts starting at quarterback. It's borderline impossible to go undefeated, particularly in a 17-game season, but they came pretty dang close with their franchise QB on the field.
And yet the lasting impression of the Eagles for many around the football world was... of the games with Gardner Minshew at the helm, or Week 18 with the Eagles' coaching staff clearly phoning it in while keeping Hurts safe?
Saturday's game was a masterclass from start to finish on both sides of the ball, the kind of performance that reminds people who you are.
Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen were dialed in from the jump, picking apart the Giants' multiple defensive weaknesses. Dallas Goedert (more on him shortly) was targeted early and often. Miles Sanders, often forgotten in the first half, was repeatedly handed the ball and hit the holes with regularity. This is a Top 3 offense at worst when everyone is healthy. There are so many weapons and defenses have so few answers.
On the defensive side, the Eagles' pass rush cooked the Giants' offensive line. Daniel Jones & Co. coming up short on their first drive of the game, gambling on fourth down and getting shut down by a Haason Reddick bull rush, set the tone for the evening. James Bradberry reminded New York's front office of the error of its ways, torturing Daniel Jones and Giants fans alike. It was domination.
Can the Eagles lose another game? Yes, in theory. But when they look like they did Saturday night, this is far and away the NFL's best team.
2. Haason Reddick is the NFC East's best defender
It feels impossible for a guy who finished tied for second in the NFL in sacks, but Haason Reddick's first season in Philadelphia absolutely flew under the radar relative to his production. You'll hear Nick Bosa, Micah Parsons, Chris Jones, Matthew Judon, Myles Garrett, and Maxx Crosby trumpeted as superstar pass rushers but for some reason Reddick isn't getting the recognition he deserves.
Maybe now, after Reddick exploded onto the scene in the first quarter of Saturday night's primetime demolition of the Giants and was a menace all night long, he'll get some more respect. But I promise you the average football fan wouldn't dream of putting Reddick in the Parsons Tier of defenders.
Yet... I'm pretty sure Reddick is better.
Let's take a quick glance at their stats from the regular season:
H. Reddick: 16.0 sacks, 26 QB hits, 11 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 3 passes defended
M. Parsons: 13.5 sacks, 27 QB hits, 14 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 3 passes defended
Those are pretty darn similar stat lines!
You can make an argument for either side. I'm extremely partial to Reddick's bend around the edge and his relentless pursuit, and also his consistency: Reddick had 11 games with at least 1.0 sack, while Parsons had just eight.
And I'm not here to say that Parsons is vastly overrated, or he's not who you think he is. He rocks!
But while the league has been drooling over Parsons (thanks in no small part to the team he plays for) a sleeping giant in Reddick has been dominating here in Philadelphia, and right now he's playing the kind of football that wins you awards - and championships.
3. Dallas Goedert is a Top 3 tight end in the NFL
Dallas Goedert missed a good chunk of time this year with an injury, which kept hidden the fact that he's quickly rising the NFL's tight end ranks.
Goedert's impressive performance Saturday night in all phases showed just how talented, and valuable, the 28-year-old tight end is. I'm ready to call it now: behind Travis Kelce and George Kittle, two future Hall of Famers at the position, Goedert is the third-best TE in the league.
The first two drives of the game really cemented the things Goedert does so well.
On the first drive he was a clear focal point for the Eagles' offense, seeing two targets on Jalen Hurts' five pass attempts. His touchdown reception, the first score of the game, was a simple case of big man vs. little man, the kind of mismatch Goedert regularly finds against opposing defenses. It helps that the Eagles have two bona fide WR1 options in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, but Goedert would do this regardless: he's just that big, fast, and strong.
On the second drive, Goedert showcased something arguably as important: his ridiculous blocking ability. For as much as we loved watching Zach Ertz crush opposing defenses through the air, the former Eagles TE wasn't a great blocker. It's why he took a little while to get regular playing time behind Brent Celek early in his career, and why the Eagles were ready to move on as Goedert improved.
Look at this Goedert block on the Eagles' fake QB sneak:
Yeesh. That combination of speed and agility, plus perfect technique, is such a valuable commodity in this Eagles offense.
Goedert finished with five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, and should keep being featured in the gameplan for the rest of the postseason. He's really, really good.