Philadelphia’s defense took advantage of the Minnesota Vikings‘ injury-ravaged offensive line in Week 7, as the Eagles (4-2) defeated the NFL’s last unbeaten team in a convincing 21-10 victory. Here’s what we learned:
1. The Vikings and Eagles entered the day with the fewest turnovers in the league this season. The two teams traded miscues from the opening whistle, featuring five giveaways in the first 10 minutes of a game for the first time since 1986. Minnesota had been turnover-free over 57 offensive possessions to open the 2016 season. These defenses were so disruptive and the offenses so inept, though, that six first-half turnovers generated a grand total of three points. The biggest play of the afternoon was Josh Huff‘s 98-yard kickoff return touchdown, staking the Eagles to an 8-3 lead they would not relinquish.
2. The soft offensive-line underbelly of the NFL’s last remaining unbeaten team was exposed during Sam Bradford‘s first ugly outing since arriving in a preseason trade. All three of Bradford’s first-half turnovers resulted from pressure in his face, including a pair of strip-sacks surrendered by freshly signed left tackle Jake Long. Minus both starting tackles for the rest of the season, the Vikings attempted to revamp the offensive line on the fly, utilizing a feckless three-man tackle rotation of Long, T.J. Clemmings and Jeremiah Sirles. The Eagles‘ front seven took advantage to the tune of six sacks, six tackles for loss and 11 hits on Bradford.
3. With no ground attack and a shoddy offensive line, it’s fair to wonder if Minnesota’s offense is too vulnerable to keep pace with other NFC contenders such as Seattle, Atlanta and Dallas. Although the Nov. 1 trade deadline leaves plenty of time to make a play for a top-tier tackle such as Cleveland All-Pro Joe Thomas, general manager Rick Spielman conceded to NFL.com’s Judy Battista last week that he’s “not going to touch any more draft picks” after parting with a first-rounder in the Bradford deal. Spielman might not have a choice even if he changes his mind. As of last week, he had just $50,000 in cap space with which to work.
4. The Eagles‘ defense has been dominant at home this season, allowing an average of just 7.7 points and 273.7 yards to the Browns, Steelers and Vikings. Credit coordinator Jim Schwartz, who drew up exotic blitzes to exploit Minnesota’s patchwork offensive line and force Bradford into game-altering mistakes. Schwartz’s front seven also stifled third- and fourth-down attempts to pick up one foot on the doorstep of the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
5. Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz didn’t fare much better than his counterpart, tossing two interceptions, muffing a pair of exchanges with Darren Sproles and missing some easy throws via play-action. Wentz was at his best as an improviser, leading three separate scoring drives of at least nine plays after a disastrous first quarter. He’ll have to recapture his September magic to knock off the NFC East-leading Cowboys in Dallas next week.