Saturday was another nice win over an unimpressive opponent. Picking important plays from blowout wins (and losses, really) can be difficult since the game is never in doubt. Sometimes you have to go outside the box, like in this Key Play selection after a complete demolition at the hands of a Deshaun Watson-led Clemson.
Today’s choice of Key Play isn’t quite that outside the box, but it’s a relatively minor play that most probably didn’t give a second thought to.
1st & 10 at the Temple 29
14:49 to play in the 1st quarter
Dennis Grosel pass complete to Zay Flowers for 10 yds (1st down)
Flowers obviously had bigger plays than this on Saturday (his big 52 yard gain in the second quarter comes to mind), but this was the play I really wanted to see early on.
Let’s not forget here in our definitely-still-active Phil Jurkovec mourning period that the Eagles nearly lost Zay Flowers to a serious injury last week as well. The electric wide receiver went down awkwardly in what initially looked like a pretty nasty knee injury against UMass and actually needed help getting off the field.
Let's cancel the rest of this game please https://t.co/JivcwQrVi5— Grant Salzano (@Salzano14) September 11, 2021
Flowers did return to the game and made a catch late, but it was hard to tell with the limited work just how secure he felt on that leg.
Flash forward to this week’s matchup against Temple, and after a big return from Travis Levy to start the game, the Eagles made a point to go right to Zay Flowers with the opening play. Was it to make me, personally, feel better about how Flowers was feeling? Probably. Thanks, Coach.
The reason this play was so encouraging wasn’t just because Flowers was on the field or that he was involved or that he got the first down out of it, but because Zay had to make a pretty nice cut to get around a defender.
He plants that right foot for a strong cut to the left, walking right around the Temple DC (he’s actually tackled by someone else entirely) to get enough for the first down. Nothing crazy, not a big gainer or a play anyone would mention the rest of the day, but a big, encouraging sign that one of our most important offensive weapons is good to go. I surely can’t be the only one who had that reaction to this play when it happened live.
The Eagles will really need Flowers’ catch-and-run abilities over the next several weeks now that we’re entering Real Games Szn. Dennis Grosel’s strength as a passer is in short- and medium-range accuracy, and those yards after catch are what will help the Eagles overcome missing out on Jurkovec’s downfield throwing ability.