No Ertz, No Problem: Wentz, Eagles roll over NFL’s best defense

‘Philadelphia has put a 50 burger on the board.’

NFL: Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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What if I told you the Eagles were playing the best defense in the NFL Sunday and racked up 266 yards of total offense and scored 31 points…by halftime?  What if I said the Eagles dropped 51 points on Denver and Nick Foles even led a scoring drive?

What if I told you Carson Wentz threw another four touchdown passes to lead the NFL with 23…and he didn’t even have his leading receiver?

The Eagles had a 31-9 lead over the Broncos at the half, en route to a 51-23 annihilation of Denver, improving their record to 8-1 heading into the bye week. And the game didn’t even feel that close.

Through the first eight weeks of the season, Wentz had relied on tight end Zach Ertz more than any other receiver. Heading into this week, Ertz was leading the Eagles in catches (43), targets (64), yards (528), first downs (29) and touchdowns (6). He was hobbled during the week with a hamstring injury, but he was expected to play Sunday. Yet during the pregame warm-up, Ertz was pulled from the lineup and replaced by the combination of Brent Celek and Trey Burton.

How’d that work out?

Celek caught three balls for 39 yards, while Burton added two catches for 41 yards and the above touchdown. Wentz finished the game 15-for-27 with 199 yards and four scores. As an offense, the Eagles had 419 yards and put up 51 points on Denver, the most the Eagles have scored in any game since 2013.

So, yeah, another key Eagles star went down and the Eagles not only didn’t miss a beat, they somehow got better.

Alshon Jeffery led the Eagles with six catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns, including a fantastic play-action pass and catch in the first quarter.

It wasn’t just the Eagles passing game that embarrassed the Denver defense. It was also the Denver offense. Brock Osweilier started at quarterback for Denver and he was expectedly terrible. The Broncos gained 211 yards all game, while their running game had only 35 yards.

Oh, and speaking of running games, what if I told you the Eagles had 197 yards on the ground, and new Eagles running back Jay Ajayi… did this on just his fifth carry with the team?

And what if you saw that Corey Clement had three touchdowns, including two on the ground and one on a screen pass from Wentz?

It’s hard to put into words how bad of a blowout this game was, almost right from the start. Fans were clamoring for Foles halfway through the third quarter, and he eventually entered the game to spell Wentz with 9:41 to play. Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts, calling the game for CBS, were talking about each of their camera people by the time the game ended, making “Eagle” jokes and saying things like, “Philadelphia has put a 50 burger on the board.” They knew only die-hards were watching at that point.

Now the question is: how good are the Eagles? It should depend on the health of the starters, but it doesn’t seem to matter who they line up where, they just keep winning games. Burton only had nine catches all season and Celek had four, but they combined to fill in for Ertz admirably. The Eagles traded for Ajayi and in his first game Clement goes wild. Even Wendell Smallwood, who wasn’t even supposed to dress if Ertz had played, had his longest run of the season.

And there’s this: The last four Eagles teams to start the NFL season 8-1 made it to the NFL championship or Super Bowl.

The Eagles head into their bye week then face Dallas, Chicago, Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams, with only the Chicago game at home. There’s a chance the Birds could get to mid-December at 9-4. Or, who knows, They could be 12-1 heading into the final three weeks.

The sky’s the limit with this team, no matter who gets hurt. Other than the quarterback.

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Sports, Eagles