The Eagles held on to defeat the Atlanta Falcons earlier today by a score of 24-15. The Birds improve to 5-4 on the season and 4-0 at home. Knowing that four of the seven remaining games for the Eagles are at home is a huge comfort. This team seems completely different when it has to play on the road. That is not to say that the Eagles didn’t face adversity in the game. Carson Wentz had a few rookie mistakes, Doug Pederson continued to make some odd decisions at times, and Caleb Sturgis missed two field goals. Still, in the face of those issues, the Eagles’ defense was able to stick together and held the highest scoring team in the league to a paltry 15 points. To recap the entire game, here are five thoughts:

The Eagles STILL need a cornerback

After the Eagles’ heartbreaking loss to the Cowboys on October 30th, I wrote my thoughts on the game. In those thoughts I said that the Eagles need a legitimate shutdown cornerback over every other need. This game was yet another example in the growing list of cases that clearly shows that sentiment to be true. Although he didn’t score, Julio Jones torched the Eagles’ secondary for ten receptions and 135 yards. He bullied Leodis McKelvin all day long and I couldn’t help but feel like had Jones gotten one more break, this game could’ve gotten very ugly very quickly.

The reason for that is because the Eagles do not have an elite cornerback. They are also incredibly thin at the position. A team could possibly get by with these corners if it didn’t have to face Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr., and DeSean Jackson twice a year. I hope that this game, along with the Steelers, Cowboys, and Giants games will give Howie Roseman no choice but to use the Eagles’ first round pick on a blue-chip cornerback.

Ryan Mathews is Alive and Well Apparently

Just when Ryan Mathews seemed like he was dead and buried, he goes and has himself a game like this. Mathews rushed for 109 yards, two touchdowns, and a converted two-point conversion. Maybe this game is a statistical outlier in Mathews’ season, but maybe not. The veteran rusher looked explosive and decisive while running the ball. He rarely went down on the first hit and most importantly, he held onto the ball all game. I’m not ready to say Mathews is back for a long time, but it was nice to see that kind of production from the Eagles’ RB1.

The Officiating in this Game was Awful

The Eagles are not going to have a good record if the NFL officials have anything to say about it. I am not exaggerating or joking when I say that the league should investigate the officiating crews for tampering when they have officiated Eagles games. I completely understand a blown call every once in a while, but the problem has not been confined to this game. In almost every game this season, the Eagles have faced highly questionable calls from the referees or have been the recipients of extremely erroneous no-calls. This game was no exception. The referees missed a defensive pass interference and followed it up by not calling what appeared to be a clear targeting penalty on Keanu Neal for hitting Jordan Matthews in the head ON THE VERY NEXT PLAY. The NFL really needs to right the ship, especially in Eagles games.

Carson Wentz Looked Really Good

Although the stat line won’t necessarily show it, the Eagles’ rookie quarterback looked solid all game. He didn’t finish with any touchdowns, but he did everything that was necessary to get his team the win. On the Eagles’ first drive of the game, Wentz completed all four of his passes for 47 yards. He looked sharp and was poised in his delivery. Wentz made a couple of rookie mistakes, like taking a sack instead of throwing the ball away, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. Wentz passed the eye test with flying colors and he looked very sharp as a whole. On the day, Wentz was 25 for 36 for 231 yards. The Eagles need to supply the young quarterback with a legitimate weapon if they want to continue his development

The Eagles’ Defense is on the Edge of Elite

I say that the defense is on the edge of elite only because of the cornerback issue. The rest of the unit is playing at a very high level right now. There are a number of Pro Bowl caliber players on the defensive side of the ball. There are even a few players that have a shot at the All-Pro team. The defense came to play today, allowing only 15 points to the top scoring offense in the NFL. Other than a touchdown that came from blown coverage, the defense completely killed one of the high-octane offensive units in the NFL. If this unit is able to secure a real lockdown cornerback, the Eagles will have a scary good defense for many years to come.

The Eagles’ win today was the prettiest, and it certainly wasn’t a lock until very late in the game. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to be excited about. Ryan Mathews may be finding his groove as the second half of the season begins. Carson Wentz continues to look like the real deal. The defense has shown that it can come to play if it wants to. The Eagles are a very young and raw football team. There are going to be mistakes and there are going to be upsets. Yet, its wins like these that show that the Eagles are right around the corner from being something special. I’m excited to see what the rest of the season holds for this team. Fly Eagles Fly.

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