Extra Points: Eagles use “Flower Power” to beat Detroit
"If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. ..."" San Francisco by Scott McKenzie (1967)
It also apparently applies for trips to Detroit.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni relied on "Flower Power" to snap a two-game losing streak on Sunday.
He sprinkled some Miracle-Gro on his offense and defense, then watched his team sprout thick roots in a 44-6 romp over the not-so-dandy Lions.
"I put a picture of a flower up, and it's coming through the ground and the roots are growing out and the roots are continuing to grow out, and everybody wants to see results," Sirianni said last week. "Shoot, nobody wants to see results more than us. We want to see results too, but it's really important that the foundation is being built and that the roots are growing out, and the only way the roots grow out every single day and they grow stronger and they grow better is if we all water, we all fertilize, we all do our part, each individual coach, each individual player, each everybody in the building that we do our part to water to make sure that when it does pop out it really pops out it really pops out and it grows."
Sirianni now has green thumbs to match the team's uniforms.
The Eagles registered a 38-point win that was their largest margin of victory since a 54-11 rout over Chicago on Dec. 22, 2013. It's no coincidence that game was also the last time the Eagles rushed for at least 225 yards and four touchdowns. The Eagles ran for 236 yards against the Lions while running backs Boston Scott and Jordan Howard, who was on the practice squad for the first seven games, each scored two TDs.
The defense also looked like it should qualify for the Philadelphia Flower Show. Coordinator Jonathan Gannon's group had a bouquet of sacks. The Eagles registered six, including two by defensive end Josh Sweat, which were their most in a game since they had nine against Miami a decade ago.
It was a departure from the formulas Siranni and Gannon have been using for much of the season.
Sirianni had used the running game sparingly for the first seven games. It reached its low point in a 41-21 loss at Dallas on Sept. 27, when Miles Sanders (two) and rookie Kenneth Gainwell (one) combined for three carries. With Sanders sidelined with an ankle injury, Scott (12), Howard (12) and Gainwell (13) took the pressure off quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts attempted only 14 passes against the Lions after averaging 34.5 throws.
Gannon wisely abandoned his soft, vanilla brand of defense by heeding defensive tackle Fletcher Cox's advice and using a more aggressive strategy against the Lions. Instead of relying solely on the front four to rush the passer, he dialed up a few blitzes.
It also didn't hurt that the Lions (0-8) provided very little resistence. After a series of respectable efforts earlier in the season, they spent much of the game curled up in the fetal position.
"That was a sea of trash we were floating in out there," Lions coach Dan Campbell said.
I vastly underestimated the level of the Lions' suckiness. Detroit fans apparently knew about it, for several spectators were sporting paper bags at the game and they were not Halloween costumes.
The Eagles were understandably excited. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, center Jason Kelce seized upon Sirianni's botanical theme in the locker room afterward.
"Let's keep this thing (bleeping) rolling," Kelce shouted to his teammates. "Keep them roots growing, baby!"
Easier said than done, however.
As good as they played against Detroit, they are still only a few weeks removed from embarrassing losses against Las Vegas and Tampa Bay that had Eagles' fans calling for Gannon and/or Sirianni to be fired.
Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) starts a tough, three-game stretch that includes games at Denver (4-4) and against New Orleans (5-2). The Eagles, as you may have noticed, have yet to win a home game.
Let's see if Sirianni's flowers keep blooming or the petals fall off.
He still might turn out to be full of ... fertilizer.