September 25, 2023   6 MIN READ

Butchering Baker

Birds Suffocate Bucs Up Front To Stay Unbeaten


Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, typically hasn’t been kind to the Eagles over the years, the rare exception being Monday night, a game in which the Eagles cruised to 3-0 courtesy of a commanding 25-11 win.

Eagles running back D’Andre Swift picked up where he left off last Thursday against the Vikings, rolling up 130 rushing yards – 305 combined in two weeks – against a Tampa Bay run defense surrendering just 54 yards on the ground per game.

Wide receiver A.J. Brown led all Eagles in targets (14), receptions (9) and yards (131).

Jalen Hurts completed 23-of-37 attempts for 277 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also accounted for 28 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Wide receiver/returner Britain Covey accumulated 111 yards on four total opportunities.

GETTY IMAGES: The Eagles’ defensive front forced Baker Mayfield into his first interception of the season and his worst completion percentage in three games.

Let’s go ahead with the observations:

* Was surprised to see slot CB Mario Goodrich plummet from “next man up” to inactive in the span of 11 days. Without Goodrich, the Eagles were left with only Justin Evans and Sydney Brown to supplement James Bradberry, who started inside.

* Aside from the early pitch-and-catch 7-yard first down to Chris Godwin, Bucs QB Baker Mayfield struggled with accuracy on the opening drive, missing a deep shot to Devon Thompkins and another to Mike Evans, which weas nearly picked off by Darius Slay.

* Not surprising to see Jalen Hurts connect with A.J. Brown for 44 yards on the first two pass plays. When Hurts has looked his best as a passer, it’s often come courtesy of early completions to Brown and TE Dallas Goedert. Hurts zeroed in on Bucs second-year CB Zyon McCollum, a fill-in for Carlton Davis (toe).

*A sequence of unideal events stymied the Eagles’ opening drive. McCollum lunged to break up a 3rd-and-1 end zone shot to WR Olamide Zaccheaus and RB Kenny Gainwell failed to convert the ensuing fourth down. The Eagles defense held on the ensuing drive.

* WR/RS Britain Covey doesn’t garner enough acknowledgement for his impact in the return game. His first return yielded 14 yards and his next covered 52. It took a bit to find his footing, but Covey after Week 10 last season has looked more decisive and confident on the move.

* The Bucs entered Monday night holding the opposition to a mere 54 rushing yards per game. But the Eagles, toting the league’s top offensive line, watched RB D’Andre Swift roll up 36 yards on four carries through the team’s first two offensive series. RG Cam Jurgens, in particular, stood out.

* Didn’t have DT Marlon Tuipulotu predicted as the first Eagle to drop Mayfield, who had only been sacked once through two games. It served as a reminder of just how absurdly deep the team is at the interior defensive line position.

* I get the Eagles making a concerted effort to get the ball into the hands of Goedert, but these dump offs haven’t yet generateed any chunk plays. With the way Tampa plays defense, the short-to-intermediate areas of the field were largely open and should have presented a golden opportunity to get the tight end going.

* The Eagles pass offense continues to look disjointed. The first two drives stalled at the Tampa Bay 14-yard-line and 18-yard-line, respectively, and only yielded a field goal.

* Justin Evans exited the game early with what the Eagles deemed a neck injury, which essentially promoted rookie Sydney Brown into a prominent role. On a crucial 3rd-and-9 from the Eagles’ 15, Brown demonstrated his relentless pursuit, getting a hand in to disrupt a potential Mayfield touchdown to Evans.

* WR Olamide Zaccheaus offers a vastly different dimension compared to Quez Watkins, who was out with a hamstring injury, but the former Falcons wideout came up big on the Eagles’ fourth possession, reeling in a pair of catches for 58 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown to break a 3-3 tie. Credit to Hurts for standing tall in the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield, and delivering the football with pressure bearing down.

* The Hurts second-quarter interception – his second of the season – in the direction of Swift appeared to be a miscommunication.

* Tremendous pursuit effort from rookie DT Jalen Carter on the ensuing drive, punching the ball out of the hands of Bucs RB Rachaad White, which Bradberry recovered to return possession to the Eagles with 32 seconds left until the break. The 2023 first-round pick continues finding ways to disrupt.

* For perspective of the Eagles’ first half dominance, the team dwarfed Tampa Bay in – among other categories – total net yards (228-87), plays (35-29), first downs (12-6), average gain (6.5-3.0), and rushing yards (75-20).

* The Eagles’ 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive coming out of the break turned the game on its axis. The star was the offensive line, which parted the Bucs defensive front like the Red Sea for running back Swift, who covered 43 yards on the drive. C Jason Kelce cleard the way on 4th-and-1 for Hurts, stretching the lead to 17.

* Tip your hat to Eagles DC Sean Desai, who continued to conjure ways of putting his patchwork personnel in position to succeed. Down two safeties, a slot corner, and a linebacker, Desai has had to scheme with his hands behind his back. While the Eagles defense was bailed out by some timely Mike Evans drops, its newly minted coordinator has delivered.

* Will be interesting to see how the Eagles reconfigure the active roster once Nakobe Dean returns from injury, but one would think they’d have to create a permanent spot for LB Nicholas Morrow, who once again put together a strong showing. The veteran linebacker, who collected a third-quarter safety, started and wore the green dot on his helnet for the second consecutive week. Linebacker play, in general, hasn’t cost them.

* Yes, I realize Jalen Hurts was navigating flu-like symptoms before the game, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, but the Eagles’ franchise quarterback now has four turnovers in three games. Very uncharacteristic. Too many times it’s appeared Hurts isn’t seeing the field particularly well or letting it rip, traits that made him a lethal weapon in ’22.

* Eagles WR A.J. Brown led all Eagles in targets (14), receptions (9) and yards (131) while Swift, who barely had any carries in the fourth, has combined for 305 rushing yards the past two weeks.

* RB Kenny Gainwell, as expected, served as the Eagles’ closer. The third-year running back is the team’s most trusted option in pass protection, but also situationally. Feels like the roles have become more clear.

* Meanwhile, No. 3 RB Rashaad Penny, active for the second consecutive week, was held without a carry a week after garnering just three on nine snaps. Not sure what that means for his long-term future in Philly.

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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