Bend, But Don’t Break – Ten Takeaways from Eagles 34, Packers 27

Jeff Madisch - USA Today Sports

In a game where defense seemed to be mostly optional, the difference was a pair of timely Eagle takeaways.

Talk about a nail biter. Things were getting really hairy at the end there. I thought for sure we were headed for overtime or worse after Andrew Sendejo took out Avonte Maddox with one of the most jarring acts of friendly fire I’ve seen in a football game. Down a pair of cornerbacks with Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills already on the shelf to begin with, the Eagles then inexplicably pulled off a two-play goal line stand to seal the deal, win by a touchdown, and avoid a disastrous 1-3 start.

It’s a monstrous win, a big beefy behemoth of a win. ESPN’s Mike Greenberg declared that the Birds were playing for their season last night and a lot of folks agreed with him. Yet, with a nasty, three-game road trip looming large, Doug Pederson’s team dispatched the cheese heads on their home turf, clawed back to 2-2, and now benefits from nine days of rest before hosting the pitiful New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field.

So take a deep breath. Exhale. Smell the fall foliage. It’s Friday morning and the Eagles are sailing more like the Battleship New Jersey and less like the rickety fishing vessel they resembled earlier in the week.

1. Carson Wentz

16 for 27, 160 yards, three touchdowns, zero turnovers, zero sacks taken, and a 113.2 quarterback rating.

He was excellent at Lambeau, guiding second half touchdown drives of 75 and 76 yards. And while he didn’t throw for a ton of yards or even complete a high percentage of passes, he made it count in the red zone while moving the sticks with quarterback sneaks when necessary. Wentz just did a nice job executing the game plan and playing relatively mistake-free football.

The only negatives on the evening were a couple of missed throws, three of which happened on third down.

Specifically, you probably remember the sequence on the final drive that began with the hospital ball to Jordan Howard (the one that almost got him killed), which was followed by the missed out route to Alshon Jeffery. Those are two passes he’d definitely want back, but otherwise he did a nice job running the offense and benefited from a strong running game last night.

Here’s his chart, courtesy of NFL Next Gen Stats:

Not a lot of downfield passing, not with DeSean Jackson injured, but Carson did an admirable job throwing short and middle, relying on his tight ends, and hitting on those seam and mesh concepts throughout the night.

2. Field position wins games

Short fields are an offense’s best friend, and the the Birds got some great starts Thursday night, one after the Miles Sanders 67-yard kickoff return and another after Derek Barnett’s strip sack.

This is where each Eagles drive started and how it finished:

  • drive one: Philly 25 (punt)
  • drive two: Philly 25 (punt)
  • drive three: Green Bay 34 (touchdown)
  • drive four: Philly 40 (touchdown)
  • drive five: Green Bay 17 (touchdown)
  • drive six: Philly 24 (touchdown)
  • drive seven: Philly 16 (punt)
  • drive eight: Philly 25 (touchdown)
  • drive nine: Philly 1 (punt)

Twice they were able to start in Packer territory because of the plays I mentioned above. And prior to the second touchdown, Mason Crosby booted the kickoff out of bounds, tacking on 15 yards to the start of that drive and allowing the Birds to begin at the 40.

For comparison, Green Bay didn’t start a single drive past their own 30 yard line. Every single possession required them to go 70+ yards to reach the end zone, including their final drive, which began on their own 11.

Advantage Eagles.

3. Rolling that Blount

The best running performance of the season for the Birds, who chalked up 176 yards against a defense that was allowing 131 per game. They gashed the Packers to the tune of 5.3 yards per rush, finishing with a rare 33 to 27 run/pass ratio, which I believe looks more like 30/30 when you factor in a couple of Carson Wentz scrambles on called pass plays.

Either way, it was incredibly close to 50% and the most run-heavy game Doug has called this year. It alleviates the burden on Wentz to throw the team to victory, it gets your play-action game going, and it lets the offensive line rumble downhill and move guys out of the way, which balances out the game for the the big guys so they aren’t sitting in pass protection for 65% of the snaps. Both Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders looked great running the ball last night, enough to justify giving each guy at least 10-12 touches next weekend and hopefully moving forward.

Maybe most impressive was on the 4th quarter drive, backed up on the one yard line, when they opened with runs of 7 yards and 10 yards, just muscling forward and digging out of that brutal field position hole. That’s not something the Eagles would have even attempted last year with Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood leading the line. You would have likely seen a Wentz sneak then a couple of passing plays.

The guys who showed up at the NovaCare complex in 2017 were right. We need to run the ball. We need to “Roll that Blount” –

4. Blitzing and not getting there, again

Felt like deja vu watching this play here, the second time in five days the Eagles were burned for a touchdown while blitzing.

This was the Jimmy Graham improvised out-and-up that Aaron Rodgers basically tossed into the corner and asked him to grab:

You see Rodney McLeod float a bit before the snap because the Eagles are trying to convince Rodgers that this is Cover 1 with Malcolm Jenkins in the slot. But Jenkins actually rushes off the edge, McLeod comes down into the slot, and even though the Eagles are rushing 7v6 with Nigel Bradham completely free, Rodgers buys himself enough time to float that ball up for Graham with Sendejo in coverage. It’s another cover zero with man-to-man assignments, same as the Marvin Jones touchdown this past Sunday.

The defense is still having trouble getting to the quarterback, just the strip sack and two QB hits in this game. The interior defensive line and secondary are banged up and Jim Schwartz is sending some pressure to try to take the pressure off the defensive backs, but oftentimes it’s just not getting there.

We should all be concerned about the D going forward (that’s what she said).

5. The 6th drive

A thing of beauty, the Eagles went 76 yards in eight plays while taking 3:43 off the clock.

It was probably Doug’s best-called drive of the entire season, capped off by a pretty jet motion screen play and ensuing wheel route that showed off a pass-catching ability that I did not know Jordan Howard possessed. These were the types of plays Miles Sanders was supposed to be running this year, and one of the biggest knocks on Howard as a one-dimensional ball carrier with no hands:

I thought for sure they were gonna get Jeffery Mack Hollins there on the pick play, but nope, they didn’t call this:

Love it. Love a good wheel route. The play calling was fantastic on that drive, more like the Doug Pederson we saw in 2017.

6. Mistakes and breaks

This entry was way too long last week, and while the Birds did do some dumb things on Thursday night, they didn’t drop the ball or put it on the ground.

Mistakes:

  • Derek Barnett late (and cheap) hit on Jamaal Williams
  • Mack Hollins quitting on a route, or whatever the hell that was
  • Zach Brown facemask (face visor?) penalty to move the sticks
  • 3rd down: offsides and facemask on the same damn play
  • Nigel Bradham dropped what looked like a pick-six
  • Lost a a timeout on a failed pass interference challenge
  • couldn’t convert two-point attempt
  • Zach Brown “unnecessary roughness” play (corny call by the refs)
  • didn’t challenge the 4th quarter pass that hit the ground, probably because they only had one timeout left and didn’t want to take the risk

Breaks:

  • Barnett not getting ejected for his late hit (which he made up for with the strip sack)
  • incredibly wonky blocking scheme on the Aaron Rodgers slow-developing fumble play (the tight end had to come from the other side of the field to pick up Barnett)
  • Green Bay kickoff out of bounds
  • Packers also lost a timeout after pass interference challenge
  • questionable red zone Green Bay play calling in general (abandoned the run, tried a ridiculous slant on the final play of the game)

Green Bay didn’t make a ton of mistakes but that strip sack really tilted the flow of the game in the Eagles’ favor. The Birds also scored after the illegal procedure.

Honestly, the pass interference replays were especially ridiculous. I’m stunned that both were upheld and not overturned. Here’s the Avonte Maddox sequence:

Face guarding is legal, but you can’t run into the guy and contact him before he catches the ball, which is what Maddox did. And on the Eagles’ replay, Alshon Jeffery clearly has his arm knocked away before the ball got there.

Doesn’t it seem to you like the replay officials are almost telling the coaches to fuck off? It’s like, ‘you’re gonna challenge our call? How dare you!’ That’s what it seems like to me. It’s like they’re offended that their calls are being challenged at all. So now what’s happening is we’re getting these ridiculous delays in the game, more commercial breaks, more flow-killing, all to replay sequences that aren’t being overturned despite what looks like clear and obvious video evidence to me.

I dunno man.

7. Ancillary wins and losses

Here we go:

  • Eagles lost time of possession 32:21 to 27:39
  • +2 turnover margin
  • 5-9 on third down (55.5%)
  • 0-0 on fourth down
  • allowed Packers to go 6-11 on third down (54.5%)
  • lost 0 yards on 0 sacks
  • 4-4 success rate in the red zone
  • 9 penalties for 93 yards
  • 24 first downs, 31 for GB
  • ran 60 total plays, GB 74

They lost TOP for the first time this season because their scoring drives were much shorter than they typically are, partly due to the strong field position starts. The defense also had some trouble getting off the field.

One thing that really killed the Eagles was penalty first downs, of which they committed eight. EIGHT! That means eight of their penalties resulted in Green Bay first downs. That almost killed this game for them, but the +2 turnover margin and red zone success ended up balancing that out. Both teams were moving the ball up and down the field with relative ease and the Birds’ ability to protect the ball allowed them to climb back into the game and then take the lead.

8. Doug’s best call?

I liked the tight end screen to Dallas Goedert on the third drive, really sexy play call right there. Then the Howard screen followed by the natural pick on the wheel route was a thing of beauty, which I mentioned earlier.

Here’s that Goedert screen pass:

Nice play call. You’re gonna motion Sproles, fake the flat pass/bubble screen to him, then come back to the short side with the tight end instead. Tasty.

I’m also a fan of ever Carson Wentz sneak ever, since those plays are seemingly converted at a 99.9% clip.

Really solid Doug Pederson game from a play-calling standpoint.

9. Doug’s worst call?

Not totally on him, but would have liked to see a timeout on the Packers’ 70 yard drive that ended the first half. Just settle it down and get reorganized there. The defense looked out of sorts after the big Geronimo Allison catch down the middle of the field, which came on a play where Malcolm Jenkins and Nigel Bradham blitzed and didn’t get home.

Not sure about the back shoulder fade to Jeffery on the two-point conversion. Additionally did not like the 3rd and 5 toss to Jeffery, which came after a crappy timeout. And the pass interference challenge, I think the call SHOULD have been overturned, but judging by the earlier call that went in their favor, maybe the dudes upstairs advising Doug should have told him to just let that one go based on prior precedent.

That bit the Eagles on the ass, because they only had one timeout remaining and decided not to risk it on challenging the pass that obviously hit the ground in the fourth quarter.

Also this:

Sharp is talking about the Avonte Maddox hit. I, too, hate that rule.

10. Broadcast notes

I honestly didn’t catch too many things from the broadcast team that jumped out at me. I generally think Joe Buck and Troy Aikman do a good job.

Couple random notes:

  • Why do national folks have trouble with Rasul Douglas’ name? They always say “Rah-sool” Douglas instead of “Ruh-sool,” which is what he’s been called for the six years I’ve been watching him play football.
  • Also think it’s kind of weird that they had Michael Strahan and the rest of the crew in New York for pregame and halftime, standing outside with fans. I guess they had to do it that way so Strahan could do Good Morning America today.
  • too many god damn commercials overall
  • they were having iris issues with the end zone camera – twice in this game they cut to field level and the picture was really dark because the operator didn’t open up the iris enough

On the Goedert touchdown pass and Lambeau leap, check out the guy on the right, the Packers fan, trying to push him off the ledge:

What a loser!

Finally, I’d like to see the Thursday night game go the way of the Dodo Bird and Passenger Pigeon. Just give each team the full week to recover before suiting up. I don’t think it’s fair to put these guys on a plane and ask them to play again after just three days of rest.

The weekend is here. Enjoy your weekend.

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22 Comments

  • Would love to eat Karen hepp’s rear end September 27, 2019 at 8:42 am

    The best hangover ever. What a win . Now get Ramsey

    Do the deal as drunk Sal pal
    Would say !!!!

    Reply
    • Due to injuries, the Eagles are now without 5 cornerbacks so if ever there was a time to do a deal with Jacksonville for Jalen Ramsey...the time is now! September 27, 2019 at 9:48 am

      Just saying.

      Reply
  • Ginger September 27, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Carson needed to get one more first down to get the team into field goal range on the last drive. . Two choke throws later we are punting.

    Good win but still have the same question. Is there enough ginger sac?

    Reply
    • Foles is the future September 27, 2019 at 9:54 am

      Yourr not lying, but they held up and got the W

      Reply
    • How many Choke Throws... September 27, 2019 at 11:53 am

      Did Rodgers Have?

      Is he still considered elite?

      Reply
  • STB5048 September 27, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Just a quick point based on a mistake you made regarding point #5. That was Mack Collins, not Alshon Jeffery setting the pick you thought he could have been possibly called for offensive PI. Which would be hilariously on-brand if he did get called for it.

    Also, where was Nelson Agholor this whole game? Was he a decoy? Have the best cover corner on him? I just assumed he was injured, but he had the most snaps of any receiver. Considering they never went downfield, and Agholor is the only downfield threat, something is telling here. I’m just not smart enough to form a conclusion.

    Reply
    • Kevin Kinkead September 27, 2019 at 9:43 am

      good call, Jeffery is down there on the bottom of the screen, lemme fix

      Reply
    • Who’s Mack Collins? September 27, 2019 at 9:57 am

      ??

      Reply
  • Defillipo youre hired September 27, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Wentz was excellent? The guy is inaccurate AF and has quite possibly the worst foot work of any QB in the league. Watching his pregame work out will show you why he’s inaccurate. Warms up by throwing off balance and jumping. Zit Neck needs stern coaching STAT

    Reply
  • Waiting for the Carson Hate...you wont appreciate until its not here... September 27, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Waiting for the Wentz hate Today, literally waiting for it.
    From “he can’t beat a winning team”
    “or hell choke eventually.”
    He’s gimpy and has inflated wallet.

    Heres a few things:
    **Prior to last night, Aaron Rodgers was 58-0-1 in his career at Lambeau when having a 10 point lead in the first qtr.
    **TDs on 5 of the last 7 Drives (one of those drives was the end of half kneel)

    Had Carson did what Arod did at the end of the game or entire 2nd half he would be crucified. One drive in the second half that led to points and that is because Zendajo fell down and got beat in coverage.

    Or are you IDIOTs really going to get hypocritical and say well he lost his best option to injury. I’m sorry what was Carson playing with the last 2 weeks?

    5 Plays in the 4th Qtr, from inside the 5 all passes, 1 INT, no PTS,…YOU IDIOTS WOULD BE ALL OVER CARSON if that was him.

    Yet you will still say Aaron Rodgers is top 3 QB in the league.

    Yet, praise will go to Doug, the running game and the defense, never the QB.

    He loses you hate him, he wins, outduels a top 5 doesn’t get sacked, doesn’t turn it over, and wins a road game on a short week against an undefeated team….and its he had nothing to do with it…

    Reply
    • So Taguchi - Phillies Legend September 27, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Look man, I was one of the loudest voices here who wanted Foles over Carson. I haven’t changed my opinion, but credit where credit is due. Carson has been good when he needs to be, has gotten away from the Ertz safety blanket, and he certainly is not the reason we are 2-2. Now lets see if he can stay healthy all year (which was my major concern) and all the injuries on D this year doesn’t render it a moot point.

      Reply
      • That is part of probelm.. September 27, 2019 at 10:41 am

        its like everyone forgets 2017..because Nick Foles was touched by God for 10 Quarters…..

        10 Quarters, and I wont rip him, he did the job but everyone forgets about the 11-2 prior..

        Your acting like Nick Foles is the posterchild of health?
        Is he avaialbe this week?

        Take a healthy Carson
        Take a healthy Nick

        Which one do you take one all is equal?

        Carson was never at any point last year, this stuff needs to stop.

        Reply
        • So Taguchi - Phillies Legend September 27, 2019 at 11:15 am

          It wasn’t 10 quarters, though. He stepped in last year for a team that was dead in the water when Carson went down and led them within a dropped pass by Alshon to the NFC Championship game. And it wasn’t just picking Foles over Carson, it was Foles and potentially 2 first round picks or whatever bounty they could get over Carson.

          Reply
          • 10 Quarters... September 27, 2019 at 11:24 am

            and the injuries?

            Do we just gloss that over?

            When was the last time Nick Foles played a complete year?

            Also, have you seen this team draft recently, what is two first-round picks? I love Howie except for drafting..he would literally screw that up?

            ***Also that defense held New Orleans to 20 points in their building last year. The d left it all out there, had Nick Foles done anything after the first two drives, then they are in the championship game. Again it was 10 quarters.

            You’re not even in that saint’s game if not for a double doink–and Mitchell Trubisky…being Mitchell Trubisky…

          • He is a decent QB September 27, 2019 at 11:56 am

            Turned him into a game manager last night. Smart move.

            If you put the game in his hands and throw all day he ends up hanging in the pocket, getting sacked and being a .500 QB.

          • half empty / half full September 27, 2019 at 4:55 pm

            why do people keep saying that they were one dropped pass away from whatever? They were literally one double doink away from losing the first game to a not very good Bears team….let’s please get over the one dropped pass deal. even if he had caught it, they still needed to score a TD and also, may have given the Saints time to recover (I don’t remember how much time was left)….

  • SRos September 27, 2019 at 9:42 am

    I think the lights were dimmed for the fireworks. No iris problem.

    Reply
    • Carson is showing flashes from '17, still, foles is the future September 27, 2019 at 9:59 am

      Yeah they dimmed the lights.
      My problem was audio issues.
      I was watching on amazon prime video, they do the Thursday night games and the audio was horrible, reverb suring the play by play

      Reply
  • Anthony Quinto September 27, 2019 at 9:46 am

    The PI challenge was put in place as a result of the non call in the NO game last year which was a total F up. The non calls last night happen all the time. The play against Alshon didn’t look like PI in real time, even Alshon was pointing to the lights. Slowing the play down frame by frame to determine PI is not how that rule was intended.

    Reply
  • The Dawg September 27, 2019 at 10:26 am

    I will be honest and say I was freaking the heck out in the first quarter as Davante Adams was running all over the field catching everything thrown his way, Carson was off on his first few throws, and the running game looked strong but Doug wasn’t continuing to run it down their throats. Then Miles Sanders makes that huge return and the game completely changed. What I really liked seeing was the staple Doug offense of those RPO’s. I don’t know if it was the run game that helped open it up or if it was something Doug specifically schemed for, but it looked good as long as Carson was accurate on his throws. This is the kind of quality win that can propel this team to get on a good streak. Also how do defensive coordinators continuously run single high safeties against quality QBs? If you are playing a Brady, Mahomes, or Rodgers DON”T play single high safety! They will SHRED your defense.

    Reply
  • Iris's? We're talking about iris's? ;) September 27, 2019 at 10:31 am

    The camera work on the Packer’s celebrations looked off because of the lighting in the stadium,. After one of their touchdowns they panned to an overhead shot of the stadium and you see that they turn their field lights into a dancing light display for touchdown celebrations. I’m not sure this was an iris issue or just poor lighting.

    Reply
  • a fan September 27, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Anyone else feel like the fans outside during the fox halftime and pregame show were all actors? Seemed very odd is all.

    Reply
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