There was a moment during yesterday’s game where I came to the realization that the Dallas Cowboys are going to win the NFC East.
It went like this:
“Huh.. the Eagles look like shit.. Alex Smith is done for the year… and the Giants are 3-7.”
That leaves Dallas as the only team with any sort of positive outlook. The Cowboys are gonna slide in at 8-8 and lose to the Panthers or Vikings in the Wild Card Round.
Later, in the third quarter, after the Saints scored to make it 38-7, my wife turned to me and said, “we could watch Real Housewives instead,” which got me thinking. At that point, I absolutely would have preferred to watch The Real Housewives vs. the rest of the Eagles game. I would have preferred to watch Teresa Giudice flip over a table and call someone a bitch. I would have preferred to watch disgustingly rich women discuss their latest plastic surgery or talk about how much of a struggle it is to find the right housekeeper to clean their 40,000 square foot Orange County mansion.
I would have preferred anything, really, because that was the most pathetic Eagles performance I’ve seen in at least seven days.
Which begs the question –
Did this team quit?
I don’t know if they necessarily quit, because I feel like they didn’t even really start the season. Did anybody on this team really give a shit at all? Or was this just a throwaway season because they won the Super Bowl and just decided to take a year off instead?
It feels like that. It really does, and I know you just can’t do anything about the myriad injuries on both sides of the ball, but everybody who is healthy regressed at the same time. Has Nigel Bradham or Jordan Hicks made a play all year long? How is Carson Wentz getting worse? Did Doug Pederson forget how to call plays? I feel like I’m in some sort of bizarro world here because this looks nothing like the team that won it all just nine months ago.
And it’s disappointing, because this was the year that you were supposed to prove to everybody that the Super Bowl run was not a fluke. You were supposed to prove that you could play as the alpha dog and not just the underdog. This was the season to transcend all of that rudimentary stuff and say, “we’re a damn good football team, and we know it.”
Instead you’ve put in one of the worst title defenses that I can ever remember seeing.
1) Let’s flip the script
The Eagles mustered six offensive plays for 15 yards and zero first downs on the opening two drives yesterday.
The scripting has been really bad. Reporters asked Doug Pederson and Mike Groh about it last week and they didn’t really have much of an explanation other than, “we’ve gotta do a better job.”
You would have to go back to the Giants game something like five weeks ago to find the last time the Eagles scored on their opening possession, and that was on a short field after the defense intercepted Eli Manning.
- Dallas: three and out
- Jacksonville: seven plays for 38 yards, then a fumble
- Carolina: three plays, -10 yards, punt
If you go back the last four games, these opening drives have gone 16 plays for less than 50 yards with three punts and a fumble.
That is some ghastly stuff.
2) Begging to lose
No defensive coordinator at any level of football should ever rush three linemen and drop eight players into coverage. The only reason you should ever do this is if you’re up by 20 points and playing prevent out of respect to your opponent, or your three linemen are Fletcher Cox, Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White.
I watch this drop-eight horse shit every week in the Big 12 and the defenses still give up 40+ points per game. It should never be done in the NFL, especially on an Eagles team where the strength is your defensive line and the weakness is your banged-up secondary.
There’s just no reason this defensive scheme should ever be used:
Somebody as good as Drew Brees is going to pick that apart every single time. It might confuse some freshman quarterback at Kansas State, but no NFL quarterback is going to struggle when you’re rushing three linemen against five and asking him to find a soft spot in the coverage.
Maybe there was a mistake here or something, because when I watch the play again, I see that both Bradham and Hicks are picking up the same guy:
Rasul Douglas gets lost in a natural screen and New Orleans picks up 15+ yards on the play. Were they even lined up properly to begin with? Did they have the right personnel on the field?
3) Josh Adams
I said last week that I thought he was just a guy.
I still think he’s just a guy, and that’s not even necessarily a derogatory term, I think it’s more about the idea that you can find a Josh Adams anywhere. There’s a reason he was an undrafted free agent and peripheral piece during training camp. He was the 5th guy on the list behind Darren Sproles, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and Wendell Smallwood.
That said, it was really nice to see them run Adams between the tackles in the first half, and he ripped off a quality touchdown to give the team some life before the inevitable beatdown resumed.
Really nice blocking here by both Eagles guards. Brandon Brooks moved immediately to the second level and took A.J. Klein so far out of the play that Adams was actually able to cut back to Brooks’ right and then burn the defensive back:
That’s what we were used to seeing last year.
Adams finished with seven carries for 53 yards and a score. I didn’t see a sweep or a pitch or any of that horizontal stuff, not unless they did it later when I was half asleep and ordering Pizza Hut on the computer. This season is pretty much done, so at least you can give Adams the workload moving forward and see if he’s got a future on this squad.
4) Golden Tate
He actually led the team with 48 receiving yards, if you can believe it, but it still didn’t feel like he was that involved, did it? He also led the team with eight targets.
One thing I don’t understand is why they just don’t go five wide and get Tate on the field with Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, and Jordan Matthews at the same time. You know your running backs can’t pass block and aren’t great catching the ball out of the backfield. You know your offensive line hasn’t been very good this year. Your strength really is in the receiving corps, so just go empty set, spread ’em out, and dink and dunk your way down the field with some quick release stuff. Tempo, rhythm, early release – try to get Carson in a groove here, no?
Beyond those eight targets, they tried to get Tate on an end-around that was blown up for a huge loss. Nice play by the defensive end, if we’re being honest.
5) Carson Wentz
19-33 for 156 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions.
A quarterback rating of 31.9 was the worst of his career, about 20 points lower than what he put up in the two-interception performance against Minnesota back in 2016.
Wentz threw his helmet on the sideline and showed visible signs of frustration, which usually isn’t the case with him. The interceptions felt forced, like he was annoyed and just trying too hard to make a play and get his team moving down the field.
I certainly don’t think the team’s struggles are solely on him. He was very good after returning from the injury and on pace to put up career numbers, he just needed to cut down on the fumbling issue. But it’s strange to watch him slowly regress, which I think is just a product of the general malaise hanging over this entire squad.
He was pretty bad specifically on those deep shots yesterday, going 0-4 on attempts of 20+ yards:
Also, no, it’s not time to put Nick Foles back in the game. Carson Wentz is the franchise quarterback.
6) Yes, more injuries
They lost six guys yesterday:
- Jason Kelce (elbow)
- Rasul Douglas (knee)
- Sidney Jones (hamstring)
- Avonte Maddox (knee)
- Jordan Hicks (calf)
- Rick Lovato (think it’s a concussion)
Even the long snapper got hurt. It was that bad:
Long snapper Rick Lovato was running to the Saints sideline as if it were the #Eagles. A Saints player had to turn him around.
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) November 18, 2018
Lemme think about who the starting secondary is next week…
I think it’s gonna be Malcolm Jenkins, Corey Graham, Chandon Sullivan, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and De’Vante Bausby in nickel. I don’t even know what they do if they go dime.
So take those six guys above and add it to Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles and Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins and Richard Rodgers and Tim Jernigan and even more injured people that I can’t think of. Then take into account that Brandon Graham, Carson Wentz, and Alshon Jeffery were not 100% healthy to begin the season. It’s just been a nightmare of injuries all season long.
7) Losing your auxiliary battles
Ugly stuff here:
- lost time of possession, 37.5 minutes to 22.5 minutes
- -3 turnover margin
- 3-10 on third down (30%)
- 0-2 on fourth down (0%)
- allowed Saints to go 6-11 on third down (54.5%) and 1-1 on fourth down (100%)
- lost 18 yards on 3 sacks
- 0-1 success rate in the red zone
- 6 penalties for 49 yards
They made one red zone trip yesterday.
Also, it’s almost impossible for an NFL team to lose the TOP battle by that wide of a margin. The Saints had the ball for almost 38 minutes yesterday. They ran 69 plays and piled up 546 yards. That’s 7.9 yards per play..
8) Doug’s best call?
I guess it was the decision to run Adams between the tackles.
9) Doug’s worst call
Keeping Wentz in the game in the fourth quarter was ridiculous. Imagine if he had also gone down injured in a blowout loss.
The only bad call that even really mattered was in the second quarter, that 3rd and 3. It was slow developing play with Wentz starting from under center. You just can’t call a deep drop in that situation, especially not coming out of a timeout. I know Stefen Wisniewski got beat on the play and allowed the sack, but you gotta know you’ve got a backup center in the game. Situation-wise, you only need three yards, so why are you dropping back five yards in the first place? Just run that out of the shotgun.
That really was the point where this game was lost. They had a bit of momentum going for them, then crapped it away.
10) Miscellaneous stuff
I usually use this space to write about things I notice during the broadcast, but the Eagles were getting their ass beat so badly that I didn’t really pay too much attention to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. I did hear Buck shout out Zach Berman for the second time this season, which was cool. Zach does a nice job for the Inquirer. I wonder if Joe Buck reads Crossing Broad? Probably not.
Anyway, the Eagles deserved to lose after John Clark shared whatever the fuck this was before the game:
New Orleans is known for their music
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) November 18, 2018
You want Delco Delco?
Yeah! Let’s do it!