Surf, Meet Turf
Kelly Green-Clad Birds Wash Out Fins In 31-17 Rout At Linc
PHILADELPHIA – Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom” reverberated from somewhere across the lots adjacent to Lincoln Financial Field Sunday night and a familiar, evocative soundtrack of ‘90s hits blared through the stadium PA system during warmups.
A sea of Kelly Green Eagles gear complemented the time capsule, as fans spanning from wide-ranging generations gathered to celebrate an indelible period in franchise history.
With this theme in mind, Jeremy White – son of late Eagles legend Reggie White – served as honorary captain, while the 90s hip-hop duo Tag Team provided halftime entertainment, performing their signature 1993 hit, “Whoomp! (There It Is).”
A fan-engaged light show – manifesting in a wave of shimmering strobe lights and pyrotechnics – also illuminated the stadium moments before the prime-time tilt between the Eagles and visiting Miami Dolphins.
The Eagles were in control throughout and overpowered an undermanned Miami team, 31-17, en route to their sixth win of the season.
The turning point occurred late in the third quarter, with tight end Dallas Goedert snaring a 10-yard completion on a 3rd-and-7, which preceded a 14-yard A.J. Brown touchdown to break a 17-17 tie. Brown finished with 10 receptions for 137 yards on 15 targets.
The first half largely involved the Eagles grounding the high-flying Miami offense, which could do little to stave off an unrelenting, attack-style Eagles defense, which collected four sacks on Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Josh Sweat led the way with two.
Let’s go ahead with the observations.
* LB Nakobe Dean reclaimed his spot in the starting lineup, aligning alongside Zach Cunningham. Returning from injury last week against the Jets, Dean was eased in, rotating with Nicholas Morrow. DB Josiah Scott, signed off the Steelers practice squad last week due to a rash of injuries, started at slot cornerback.
* WR Olamide Zaccheaus collected the opening kickoff for the first time this season, bringing it back a short seven yards. Interesting to see the Eagles shake things up in that department.
* WR DeVonta Smith last week at MetLife Stadium committed a pair of egregious, uncharacteristic drops against the Jets. On a 1st-and-10 from the Philadelphia 46-yard-line on the Eagles’ opening drive, a leaping Smith failed to corral a contested pass down the left sideline. Smith took two big hits on the drive, including on that sequence, but that’s one he typically catches.
* Given the Dolphins’ personnel and scheme, the Eagles’ passing game projected to lean in favor TE Dallas Goedert this week. The question was whether or not the Eagles would capitalize. Goedert collected two catches for 44 yards on the opening drive. Through three possessions, Goedert secured all four of his targets for 67 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown to break a 3-3 tie.
* The Eagles’ promising opening drive, which covered 66 yards in 12 plays, ultimately sputtered, as red zone inefficiencies surfaced again. The red zone sequence came on the heels of an uneven showing at MetLife, that made OC Brian Johnson’s offense 1-of-7 in the red zone before the Eagles scored touchdowns on four of their last five trips against Miami.
* Going into the game, I felt confident in DE Josh Sweat winning his matchups against Dolphins LT Kendall Lamm. Sweat, along with some help from SAM Haason Reddick and DT Jalen Carter, ended Miami’s opening possession, bearing down on QB Tua Tagovailoa and forcing an erratic short toss to RB Raheem Mostert.
* The Eagles continue to get solid production from the return game, with RB Boston Scott bringing back a first-quarter kickoff 38 yards. Strong blocking from Zaccheaus and Scott sprung Scott.
* Jalen Hurts’ fumble on the Eagles’ second offensive series marked his ninth turnover through seven games (seven interceptions, two fumbles). Hurts, who typically keeps the ball out of harm’s way, has committed a pair of costly turnovers the past two weeks. His fumble resulted in a Dolphins field goal.
* CB Eli Ricks, who mentioned to Inside the Birds this week that he had moved back inside due to need, received some early snaps at nickelback, working in tandem with Scott. On one occasion, Ricks covered up Dolphins WR Braxton Berrios. Ricks also defended Tyreek Hill on a short 3rd-and-22 incompletion, forcing the field goal.
* WR Julio Jones, elevated from the practice squad Saturday after signing Tuesday, saw some early reps on the Eagles’ first three possessions. No targets.
* DB Mekhi Garner rotated in at safety on the third possession, flanking veteran Terrell Edmunds, while Ricks worked in at nickel. While a ferocious Eagles pass rush hastened Tagovailoa’s reads, both undrafted defensive backs acquitted themselves admirably on the backend.
* The Dolphins entered Sunday night averaging 182 rushing yards per game. But a lethal rushing attack met a stingy run defense holding opponents to 66 yards per game, with the electric Mostert held to minus-8 yards on three carries.
* The Dolphins in the second quarter lost WR Jaylen Waddle with a back injury, but reserve WR Cedrick Wilson gave the Dolphins life before the break, hauling in a 29-yarder down the right sideline to the Miami 49. Five players later, Hill got behind CB James Bradberry and Edmunds to reel-in a 27-yard touchdown pass. With the Dolphins down multiple starters on the offensive line, along with losing Waddle and having a stagnant running game, the late score was mildly troubling.
* It appeared as though DE Jaelin Phillips beat Lane Johnson for a sack with 39 seconds remaining until the break, which would mark Johnson’s first sack surrendered since Week 11 of the 2020 season, according to Pro Football Focus.
* The Zach Sieler sack of Jalen Hurts – the NFL Gamebook credited Bradley Chubb – resulted in a three-yard loss and ultimately thwarted a promising drive to start the third.
* The ensuing Dolphins march – which covered 43 yards on six plays – ultimately stalled on the Philadelphia 21 on a 4th-and-3 pass to Wilson. Bradberry interfered on the play, though it wasn’t called. The pass rush turned up the heat and the back end claimed redemption after avoiding misfortune on a Hill drop that would have resulted in a touchdown.
*Following the defensive hold, Hurts commited his second turnover – this time on a deflection into the arms of LB Jerome Baker, who returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. It’s appears Hurts is laboring through something – maybe an injury? – but he’s now accounted for 10 turnovers.
* WR A.J. Brown was simply too strong for Dolphins defensive backs. On a 1st-and-10, Brown caught a short pass to the right, eluded the grasp of LB Andrew Van Ginkel and CB Kader Kohou to find the end zone from 14 yards out. Hard to argue the team force-feeding Brown when he’s playing at such an elite level.
* Big disparity in terms of penalties. The Dolphins committed ten (70 yards) while the Eagles played a clean game, committing zero.
* The Eagles’ defense held strong in the red zone again, with CB Darius Slay picking off Tagovailoa on a 3rd-and-8 for his second interception of the season. Credit to DC Sean Desai for stabilizing a unit with a multitude of moving parts and getting stops. He’s done more with less.
*While best suited for the boundary, Eli Ricks might have emerged as an answer for the slot. Ricks held his own in coverage, most notably on a fourth-quarter 4th-and-10, when he broke on the ball intended for Tyreek Hill and got a hand in to breakup the pass.
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.