Listen –

Sometimes you hang 41 points on the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

And sometimes Ryan Fitzpatrick hangs 402 yards and four touchdowns on you.

Sunday was one of those days for the Birds, a day where the opposing quarterback carves up your secondary and then has the audacity to show up at the podium looking like a cross between Conor McGregor and two of the three members of ZZ Top.

I guess that’s the glass half empty part, the fact that the Birds were torched multiple times by a guy who is actually a backup quarterback. The Eagles lost Jason Peters and Mike Wallace and missed a field goal and just didn’t seem like they were ready to play.

The glass half full outlook would focus on a second-half comeback that fell just short. Nick Foles showed some good things and some bad things as he finished with 334 yards and a touchdown pass. Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor looked like their normal selves as the rest of the offensive pieces struggled to impact the game.

And of course we’re still looking at the return of Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery, maybe this week for Carson, which will go a long way towards getting this team back to where it needs to be.

So I’m not gonna do the knee-jerk “woe is me” thing and lament a road loss that really could have been a lot worse. I’m not gonna do that after week two. Let’s pull up our big boy pants and look at the game.

1) No safety help

Let’s just start with the first play of the game, when DeSean Jackson smoked the Birds on a 75-yard touchdown.

I don’t have the all-22 video yet with the super-wide angle, but what happened here was that the Eagles actually started in Cover-2 and disguised a corner blitz:

What you’re looking at here is that Rodney McLeod comes down to pick up Mike Evans, since Ronald Darby (yellow circle) is blitzing. Malcolm Jenkins slides back into the middle portion of the field and Jalen Mills stays on DeSean, so really they slide into Cover 3 with a single-high safety and Jenkins is responsible for helping over the top.

I’m really not sure why Jenkins tried to undercut that route, or why he came in so shallow. He told reporters after the game that it was his responsibility to cover the middle third of the field.

2) More secondary breakdowns

The second touchdown can mostly be blamed on a poor tackle attempt from Darby, though Jordan Hicks got beat in coverage.

I’m not sure if Hicks was to blame for the third score, or if McLeod was responsible for Chris Godwin here, but you can see Hicks turn around and look at McLeod after the catch as if to say, “I thought you had him?” –

I’m not sure whose responsibility that is there. Corey Graham is also in the mix as the Birds are in dime here trying to match up against Tampa Bay showing trips right with a receiver on the left and Jacquizz Rodgers coming out of the backfield.

This game did remind me a bit of the Seattle game last year, not because Fitzpatrick was scrambling like Russell Wilson, but because the Eagles do have some coverage issues when teams send out four and five receivers at a time and keep their quarterback upright without extra blockers on the line, which is what happened in the play above.

For what it’s worth, Jim Schwartz doesn’t speak after games, so we’ll hear what he has to say on Tuesday. As far as specifics on each play, the players didn’t really get too much into that. Maybe we get some more from them later in the week as well.

I’m not sure anyone in the secondary had a great day, though Jenkins deserves credit for the big forced fumble and I do think Mills was on the receiving end of a facemask on the fourth quarter matchup with Evans where he was flagged instead:

I guess both guys were guilty of an infraction there. Looks like a pair of facemasks.

But anyway, Mills is a 7th round draft pick, so I don’t know what people expect of him. He was elevated to a starting role on a Super Bowl winning team because Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll and Byron Maxwell were not the answer. Jalen has had some good games and some bad games, but to expect him to be Ramsey instead of Mills is not accurate.

3) Don’t blame us

People say the defensive line didn’t do enough to pressure Fitzpatrick in this game, and maybe that’s true. They finished with eight QB hits and two sacks, which is about half of the 15 hits and 4 sacks they put up against Matt Ryan last week. Fitzpatrick was a little more uncomfortable today after the Saints barely touched him last week.

But in reality is that the line was fine, and limited Tampa to 43 rushing yards on 22 carries. Only 9.8% of Tampa’s 436 yards came on the ground, and the irony of the Buccaneers hitting quickly on some of their scores was that they gave up the time of possession battle to the Eagles by a 12 minute gap, holding the ball for just 24 minutes compared to the Eagles’ 36.

Point being – the defensive line was relatively fresh throughout the game, even in the South Florida heat. And they DID make Tampa more or less one-dimensional, holding the Bucs to just one rushing first down on the day. If you’re looking for a spot where the defense could have been better, Schwartz could have dialed up more pressure or come up with different ways to get to Fitzpatrick and/or make him uncomfortable.

4) Play calling

Ups and downs from Doug Pederson, who didn’t use nearly as much shotgun this week.

Here’s what I wrote down on my notepad while my dad and uncle and cousin yelled at the TV:

  • 44 passes out of the shotgun (a lot in the 4th quarter while chasing the game)
  • 7 passes from under center
  • 13 runs out of the shotgun (including the direct snap to Agholor)
  • 8 runs from under center (two quarterback sneaks and the option/toss to Smallwood)
  • (two more under center sets were wiped out due to a holding and tripping penalty on the second drive)

So I think Doug mixed it up pretty well. I don’t know why Nick Foles wasn’t pushing the ball down field more, but I have a strong hunch that the departure of Mike Wallace really took away the Birds’ ability to stretch the defense. Shelton Gibson should theoretically be able to do that, but he finished with zero grabs on two targets.

As far as run/pass option, I only noted three or four instances where they might have used it. Again, I’d have to go back and look at the film to watch how the line sets their blocking schemes on those plays, because it’s very hard to tell when a play actualyl has a run option vs. just being a simple play-action motion. I feel like the Eagles got away from their RPO package on Sunday and showed more play-action coming from under center sets.

5) Personnel decisions

Sort of going hand-in-hand with the above entry, I wasn’t huge on the running back rotation. I am, of course, biased towards fellow Mountaineer Wendell Smallwood because I’d for him to do well, but I need to see more of Corey Clement as an offensive staple. I don’t care what he does on special teams; I need Clement to carry the ball more than six times per game. And if Jay Ajayi was okay in the second half, then get him back out there, too. This feels a lot like the early parts of last season, when LeGarrette Blount wasn’t getting enough snaps and the Eagles were trying to figure out what exactly they had in the running game.

Also, here’s a picture of me searching for Dallas Goedert on Sunday afternoon:

Josh Perkins is a fourth-string tight end behind Ertz, Goedert, and the injured Richard Rodgers. Kamar Aiken is a sixth-string wide receiver behind Jeffery, Agholor, Wallace, Mack Hollins, Gibson, and maybe even DeAndre Carter. He was just re-signed to replace Markus Wheaton, who was signed and then waived after week one. So I don’t know what the fuck the Eagles are doing with the receiver depth chart right now, but obviously the preseason means jack shit since Goedert and Gibson both looked more than capable out there and are now invisible.

RE: the Perkins playing more than Goedert, here’s Martin Frank at Delaware Online:

Pederson gave a convoluted answer about why that was the case, basically saying he wanted to adjust just one role instead of several once players like Wallace and Ajayi left the game.

“Listen, it’s a complex thing when you start moving bodies around,” Pederson said. “And without getting real specific with the game plan … one part that goes down, then you have to adjust everybody else.”

And more Pederson via

It’s complicated because you (the media) don’t know the plan. When you don’t know the plan or the formations, where we move guys and have guys specifically in the game plan, when one guy goes down, it shuffles the whole thing. So we can keep it real consistent by just moving one part and many parts.

Yeah, I get it. I guess. You’ve got some young/new guys out there who might not be 100% comfortable with the play book or even ready for a too much pro-level action. And Perkins used to be a receiver back in the day before he converted to tight end. So if you’re not ready for Gibson, Goedert, or Carter to step in, you give the snaps to Perkins and a veteran like Aiken instead.

Shrug. Guess we’ll get more from Doug on that later.

6) Whiff

Remember how some Eagles fans used to call Asante Samuel Asante “Samuels” instead? Kind of like Alshon “Jefferies.”

Anyway, Ronald Darby paid homage to the former Eagle corner when he totally whiffed on what seemed like a rather straightforward tackle on the second Bucs touchdown:

Not a great effort.


Credit where it’s due. He did a really nice job later on Jacquizz Rodgers in the open field on that 3rd and 4 in the 4th quarter. I will try to give credit where I can if I’m gonna rag on a guy for something else.

Here’s Asante in all of his glory:


7) Fumble?

It didn’t mean much at the time because the Eagles looked like they were cooked at halftime, but they lost a possession on the Nick Foles fumble that looked almost like a forward pass to me.

On the play, the ball travels about five yards forward as Foles gets cleaned out by Kwon Alexander coming unblocked through the line:

Am I blind? Am I missing something here? Even if he’s being tackled that looks like forward motion from the arm and the ball clearly travels forward.

Maybe they just didn’t see anything that could conclusively overturn the ruling on the field. It’s hard to say if the ball is spinning out of his hand at or during the tackle, or if he still has control of it as his arm goes forward, but it definitely looks like his elbow is at least parallel with his body, which would suggest that he’s coming forward with it.

I don’t know. I really don’t know.

8) Doug’s best call?

Going for it on 4th and 1 in the second quarter, for sure.

I also didn’t have a problem with him going for it on 4th and 4 on the first drive of the second half? Why not? You’re down 20-7 at that point and you’re looking at a three and out to start off the quarter, so you might as well take the risk from midfield. You’re trying to get back into the game instead of punting to a team that can find the end zone with one deep ball.

I know a lot of people were talking about the clock management in the 4th quarter, but I honestly didn’t have a problem with Doug running the ball there. They saved three timeouts and still had the two-minute warning with Tampa starting their final drive at 2:41 on the clock. You still needed the defense to get a stop, and they didn’t get a stop, they allowed two first downs and committed a neutral zone infraction.

9) Doug’s worst call?

I didn’t like the 3rd and 11 draw play before halftime. That felt like something out of the old Andy Reid playbook. That’s not the aggressive Doug Pederson we saw in last season’s NFC divisional round game against Falcons.

Also wasn’t a big fan of the screen he called on the final drive of the second quarter, after the drive featuring the draw play. The Eagles had just connected with Ertz on a big play down the right sideline, then Doug went with a screen that lost five yards and forced the Eagles to burn their second timeout.

10) The Barber Brothers

I gotta be honest; I didn’t hear ALL of the broadcast because I went home to watch the game with family, so I didn’t entirely focus in on Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, and Tiki Barber.

I did laugh when they tried to cut to Dean Blandino early on, which was derailed by technical difficulties. As a general rule, I think all Dean Blandino hits should be derailed by technical difficulties.

One thing I do like is that double box on reviews, where they play a commercial in the big box on the right while keeping the field camera in the small box on the left. It doesn’t necessarily add anything to the broadcast, but it keeps me attentive and makes more sense than cutting out entirely, which causes people to get up and walk to the fridge or whatever. It’s a way for them to shove another commercial into the game without totally ditching the action.

As far as Tiki’s outfit, he  kind of looked like a mix between fly fisherman and coal miner. I couldn’t really hear his hits, but Ronde I thought did fine. I didn’t sense much homerism from him, if any. He even said “maybe I was wrong” on the pass interference non-call against Agholor in the third quarter, so good on him for being cool and not attempting to bullshit us.

I also swear I heard one of the trio pronounce the word “Aliquippa” as Ali-queepa, which was weird, but I have context for that line. I also have no desire to re-watch Fitzpatrick slicing and dicing the Eagles like Joe Montana.

But we’re gonna have to to. The all-22 coaches film should show us why the Birds’ secondary struggled so much.