Putting it Blountly, Eagles got sloppy with the ball
LeGarrette Blount's solid day marred by miscues that he says Eagles can't afford against better teams.
It was LeGarrette Blount's second-best rushing day as an Eagle, as he bulldozed his way through the Chicago Bears for 97 yards on 15 carries. But that was not what Blount wanted to emphasize after the Eagles' 31-3 victory.
"We did a lot of things right, obviously, but there's a lot of things we've got to improve on. We can't put the ball on the ground however many times we put the ball on the ground today, starting with me. I'm a big stickler about putting the ball on the ground – I hate putting it on the ground."
The Eagles fumbled four times, one on an interception return by Malcolm Jenkins, one when Jay Ajayi was stripped as he was about to score, with Nelson Agholor then diving on the ball for the touchdown, and twice on plays involving Blount.
The first time, Blount ripped through the Bears for 35 yards from the Eagles' 7, but the last few yards he had Chicago corner Prince Amukamara wrestling him for control of the ball. Blount stayed up and eventually the ball came out, recovered by the Bears' Eddie Goldman.
The second time was long after the outcome was decided. The Eagles were trying to get Blount over the 100-yard mark for the first time since the Oct. 1 San Diego game (when he ran for 136), but the handoff from backup quarterback Nick Foles bounced away, Foles charged with the fumble, with just 4:26 remaining.
"After Thanksgiving is when the real football starts. This is a time when you want to be clicking, and hitting on all cylinders. What we showcased today was not one of our better games [offensively]," Blount said. "We put the ball on the ground, we got Carson [Wentz] hit a little bit. If it was another team, that was pretty strong, we probably would have had a little trouble."
Blount was the featured back all day. Kenjon Barner did not get any carries, Ajayi got just five for 26 yards, and Corey Clement four for 27.
"A lot of it came down to the style of defense the Bears ran this afternoon," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. He said the crowded box the Bears presented made it "a little more conducive for him to sort of run downhill at them … so he was the back of choice."
One small step for Shelton
Fifth-round rookie wide receiver Shelton Gibson was activated and played special teams. Gibson had been the only player on the 53-man roster all season who hadn't been in a game. He took the place of wideout Marcus Johnson.
"It was awesome, just getting out there with everybody," Gibson said. "I didn't feel rusty at all; I treat practice like a game."
Celebrate good times, come on
Watch the Eagles after turnovers and touchdowns, and you don't know whether it's a football game or a wedding reception. The defensive players did the electric slide. The offensive players have had choreographed celebrations ranging from posing for family photos and mimicking bowling pins on Sunday to pretending to hit home runs in previous games.
"I just show up and try to figure out what the heck we're doing," quarterback Carson Wentz said. "It's cool to see everyone out there having fun. You can see everyone jumping in them and joining, and that's just the brotherhood that we have right now. It's a blast."
The offense's celebrations have captured most of the attention this season, but the defense's electric slide might have one-upped them Sunday. Safety Malcolm Jenkins joked that as the veteran on defense, he doesn't know some of the "new dances," so "it had to be something that was go-to that everybody could participate in."
"I think guys are enjoying the process every week, and so when we're here on Sundays and it's game time, we cut loose," Jenkins said. "We work hard so we feel like the least we can do is have fun out there. It gets the crowd involved and excited. That permeates throughout the whole team."
Doug Pederson wants them to "hurry up and get off the field" to avoid a penalty, because the play clock is running during the celebration. Otherwise, he likes that they're joint celebrations and not limited to one player.
"It's a team effort," Pederson said, "and it is fun to see on a Monday, not on a Sunday afternoon."
Opposing players have noticed, too.
"If they want to go on Dancing With the Stars, that's great for them," Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long said. "I'm very glad that they're well-choreographed in their dance routines. We've got to find a way to win football games."
Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith has advice for any opponent who doesn't want to see the Eagles celebrate.
"It's obviously more fun when you're winning," Smith said. "You're on the opposite side of it and you're losing. And you don't want to be watching guys dance around or whatever, and there's only one way to stop that — win. Shut them up."
In and out
Joe Walker left the game in the first half with a stinger. He was replaced at middle linebacker by Najee Goode.
Defensive tackle Beau Allen (knee) and tight end Trey Burton (back) were sidelined because of injuries suffered last week against Dallas.
With Allen out, Elijah Qualls was active at defensive tackle. Steven Means was active at defensive end to give the Eagles another special-teams contributor to fill Burton's place.
The Eagles' other inactives were tackle Will Beatty, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, wide receiver Marcus Johnson, running back Wendell Smallwood, and quarterback Nate Sudfeld.