PHILADELPHIA – Here are my 10 day-after observations from Eagles’ 24-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night:
It’s amazing how far this team has come since going 4-11-1 just two years ago. This team looks like it could be a real threat to make a Super Bowl push. There’s still a long way to go and staying healthy at key spots is a must, but the turnaround from the last year of Doug Pederson has been incredible to watch and chronicle.
The Eagles had odds of 40-1 to win the Super Bowl on Feb. 14, per @BetOnline.ag. On Tuesday, those odds had dipped to 10-1.
Hurts for MVP?
The QB’s odds are dropping. BetMGM moved his odds to +1000 after Monday night’s impressive showing, which is up from +2500 in the preseason.
Again, it’s early, but Hurts continues to grow, it’s far from out of the question that he can win it.
Player of week
If Darius Slay isn’t the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week when the award comes out on Wednesday, there should be an investigation. Two picks, a career-high five pass breakups, and shutting down Justin Jefferson? Throw in the fact that Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell dissed Slay when interviewed on the telecast when he said it was a matchup that should favor Jefferson, and it feels like a shoo-in for Slay to follow up Zech McPhearson winning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after Week 1.
Kick returned need
Speaking of special teams, yeah, the blocked field goal was egregious, but so too were Quez Watkins’ attempts to return kicks. He had two that went 13 yards. He never made it to the 20 and seemed to be why the Vikings opted not to kick into the end zone but dare Watkins to make a return.
There has to be somebody who can do it better. Kenny Gainwell, maybe? He can’t be much worse.
Starting field position
It was horrible in the first half and some of it was the inability to return kicks.
The Eagls' best starting field position of the first half was the 23. They started at the 18, 23, 18, 16, 15, and 5. That they found a way to score 24 points is a tribute to how the offense played.
It never got much better in the second half: 19, 15, 25, and 20.
The Eagles had four plays that went for more than 20 yards, including the 53-yard TD from Hurts to Watkins.
The others: Hurts' 26-yard TD run, Hurts’ 24-yard pass to Dallas Goedert on the play that set up Jake Elliott’s 38-yard field goal to close the first half, and the 23-yard pass to A.J. Brown in the middle of the third quarter.
The biggest play for Minnesota was just 19 yards on a pass from Kirk Cousins to Adam Thielen that didn’t come until late in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles set a franchise record by converting 45.7% of them last year. After going 7-for-13 on Monday, they now have converted 17-of-30 in two games, which is 56%.
Meanwhile, the defense held the Vikings to just four conversions in 12 tries (33.3%).
Avonte Maddox’s interception
Slay grabbed the headlines, but Maddox’s climb-the-ladder interception on the third play after the Vikings got the ball at the Eagles’ 30 on the return of a blocked field goal prevented giving Minnesota any life.
It also led to a humorous exchange with Slay afterward in the postgame interview area.
“I really believe he can dunk now,” he said of Maddox. “I usually think that he couldn’t, but that vert showed that he might dunk.”
Slay added that he’s not sure Maddox can palm a basketball and might need an alley-oop toss to do it.
Maddox also broke up a first-down throw after Jordan Hicks’ interception set up Minnesota with a first-and-goal at the 9 and more than seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
How much was the QB’s fault, how much was it Kenny Gainwell’s fault, how much was it Shane Steichen’s fault?
The running back should have made the catch. It hit him in the hands and caromed to Hicks for the pick. There was heavy traffic around Gainwell and he may have seen the ball late. The timing looked to be off, too.
The offensive coordinator, though, may want to stay away from that kind of high-risk play deep inside your own territory, late in a game that you are winning and playing against the clock.
The Eagles ran two on the same drive with only one play between them.
The first one went to Boston Scott. Jalen Hurts sold it beautifully, looking like he was going to throw then handed off the ball. The line blocked it just as beautifully, with tackles Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata letting the ends get upfield and take themselves out of the play.
Center Jason Kelce helped Isaac Seumalo with a block on the D-tackle then went to the next level to block a linebacker, which is what Dallas Goedert was doing as well.
Scott ran for 16.
A play later, the same play was called only it went to Miles Sanders who gained nine.
The drive ended with Hurts running in from 26 yards to make the score 21-14 with 1:58 to go in the half.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.