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2022 NFL season, Week 9: What We Learned from Eagles' win over Texans on Thursday night

Philadelphia Eagles
2022 · 8-0-0
Houston Texans
2022 · 1-6-1


  1. Dallas Goedert might not be elite, but he’s not far off. Ever since Rob Gronkowski walked away from football (the second time), the nearly universal tight end power rankings have looked something like this: 1. Travis Kelce. 2. Mark Andrews. 3. Everyone else. But there’s a case to be made for considering Goedert just below the Kelce-Andrews Line, but above most (if not all) others at the position. Thursday’s eight-catch, 100-yard, one-touchdown effort was not his finest statistical game in the NFL, but it was crucial to the Eagles’ closer-than-expected victory. Goedert has been a screen machine this season, and that most certainly was the case in Week 9, as it felt like the Eagles called for that play to that man in many high-leverage situations in this game. And he kept delivering. On a relatively quiet night for both A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, it was the running of Miles Sanders and the screen game to Goedert that thrust the Eagles offensively.
  2. Dameon Pierce is an Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite. With no quarterbacks lighting it up in their first NFL season, and with OROY favorite Breece Hall out for the season, Pierce absolutely should be at or near the top of your list. Pierce had a rough game Sunday against the Titans, but he was back on track in a big way, registering career bests in rushing yards (139) and carries (27). Without wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins playing, the Eagles tried to gang up on Pierce, but he still found ways to outrun and bounce off Eagles would-be tacklers for extra yards after contact. He might not be the most dynamic back in the league, and he’s still growing as a receiver. But there absolutely is a bell-cow in Pierce, who has a bright future with the team. The Texans got a steal in Round 4, but maybe Pierce would have gone higher had he been given more than 100 carries in 13 games at Florida last season. (It might also have kept Dan Mullen his job.)
  3. C.J. Gardner-Johnson was the sleeper offseason addition. Gardner-Johnson didn’t report to the Eagles after his shocking trade from the Saints until Aug. 31, and it was a fair question to ask how long it might take for him to adjust to the scheme and his new teammates. The answer: about six weeks. He was fine early for the Eagles, starting and playing nearly every defensive snap the first month of the season. But it’s been lately that his value to this defense has exploded. Gardner-Johnson now leads the NFL in interceptions with five following his diving pick of Davis Mills on Thursday. In his first 47 NFL games, he had five INTs; over his past four games, he’s added five more. Throw in a sack last week against the Steelers, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest he’s been one of the best Eagles defenders the past four games.
  4. Javon Hargrave is on a sack bender of late. On his first sack, Hargrave had to run a long way to chase down Mills -- even if it was Mills, not the fleetest of foot -- for a big third-down stop. No. 2 also came on third down, as he destroyed Texans rookie guard Kenyon Green to take down Mills for a loss after the Texans were driving at midfield. The third was a 9-yard loss that knocked the Texans out of the red zone and stalled their momentum when the game technically was still in doubt. Hargrave did get flagged for a roughing-the-passer call, but it felt borderline at best. The bottom line is that he’s been on a tear of late, getting his revenge game out of the way last week against the Steelers (who didn’t re-sign him) and smashing Kenny Pickett for good measure. That’s now six sacks this season for Hargrave, with five coming in the past two games. He’s making a strong midseason push for the Pro Bowl as one of the better interior penetrators in the game.
  5. The Eagles missed Jordan Davis. If there was a major gripe with the Eagles’ performance Thursday night, it was that the interior run defense was pretty leaky. There was a pretty good reason why the team used a first-round pick on Davis, a mass of humanity whose impact can’t be measured by stats such as tackles (14), tackles for loss (one) or sacks (zero), but by taking up two gaps with his size and strength. They got a pretty good idea how much Davis means -- especially for a guy who was averaging 22 snaps a game -- on Thursday. The Texans were extremely shorthanded at receiver, so the Eagles knew they had to run the ball extensively, and yet Houston had success time and time again running inside. Davis’ ankle injury landed him on injured reserve, and the soonest he could return would be Week 13 against the Titans. The Eagles face some pretty good backs between now and then, so they had better come up with some alternative solutions during the mini-bye.

Next Gen stat of the game: When Davis Mills and Chris Moore hooked up on a 13-yard touchdown for the Texans, Mills was traveling 16.04 mph when he released the ball -- the third-fastest speed by a QB on a TD pass this season. 

NFL Research: The Eagles are 8-0 for the first time in franchise history with a win over the Texans. Jalen Hurts has now won 11 consecutive regular-season starts. 

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