Apologies if you read anything in this column that doesn’t make sense. I woke up Sunday in Oklahoma, got dicked out of a flight by American Airlines, drove to Texas instead, and then got into Philly at 9:15 p.m after another flight delay. It was the worst traveling and customer service experience I’ve ever had.
But it wasn’t nearly as bad as last night’s Eagles performance. Good God was that hideous. Before I even got off the plane they had turned the ball over twice while the defense put up as much resistance as a wet paper bag en route to a 14-0 deficit. They looked unprepared and, even worse, uninterested.
It’s clear that Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman were trying to send a message with the Zach Brown release earlier this week. Doug’s “we’re gonna win” comments from Monday were also meant to light a fire under these players asses, yet they came out flat and played even worse than they did the week before. And this was against a division rival!
Does it feel to you like this team never really embraced the “new norm” thing? They started 4-6 last year, when they were supposed to be defending their title, then couldn’t wait to fall back on the “underdogs” card when everybody started to point out that they were playing like dog poop. The running theory was that last year was a “hangover” year, just a down season following the Super Bowl. Carson Wentz was injured and blah blah. This year they were supposed to be healthy and focused and rejuvenated, right? Nah. It’s the same exact team as last year. It’s ‘meh.’ This team is ‘meh’ personified.
What’s worse is that each crappy performance just adds more fuel to the “they got hot in 2017” narrative/fire. Nick Foles came in, caught lightning in a bottle, and the home field advantage-plus-disrespect angle created the perfect storm of motivation to get the job done and finally win a title.
But when anything is expected of the Eagles, when the talent is there on paper, they crumble. They show zero heart and zero effort, unlike the resident soccer team, which dug deep on Sunday to complete a 4-3 comeback playoff win. It’s appalling to think that the Union would go balls out to win a game while the Eagles just half-assed their way through another malodorous loss.
This team is really depressing to watch. Smelly and fetid. Let’s dive in anyway. Whatever.
1. Carson Wentz
He was fine last week, but this week he was just not good enough. The Dallas Goedert fumble is obviously not his fault, and Lane Johnson got beat on the next drive, but I though Carson would at least see one of those sacks coming on his strong side and try to step through and up into the pocket. Later in the game, the Eagles are inevitably chasing, then he’s forcing an interception and fumbling a shotgun snap after taking your eyes off the ball. Those plays don’t count for much, but they’re still bad.
I’ve been on record saying I think that Wentz is maybe problem #6 or #7 right now. Clearly these receivers are not very good, the offensive line can be better, Zach Ertz fell off the face of the Earth, and I don’t know what the hell Mike Groh is contributing behind the scenes. But Wentz is always going to be a focal point since he’s the guy making the reads, throwing the ball, and changing play calls at the line of scrimmage.
Two more specific thoughts on Wentz:
The pass that went over Alshon Jeffery’s head was two things. 1, it was a little high. 2, Jeffery did jump early. Two things can be true at once.
Also in the “two things can true at once” department was the Nelson Agholor deep throw. There are a couple of different angles out there, but I grabbed this one:
Does Agholor know he’s allowed to catch this? pic.twitter.com/sFCqyEdvP8
— Patrick (@EaglesPMC) October 21, 2019
That’s not the best ball. Look at where Agholor is when Wentz releases that. There’s too much ground for him to cover horizontally to get to where it’s thrown, but of course he looks like he has trouble tracking the ball and finishing the play. Even laying out there gives the impression that he’s busting his ass to try to snag a pass that isn’t 100% accurate.
Let’s get Seth Joyner’s take:
Seth Joyner just ended Nelson Agholor’s whole career pic.twitter.com/IhiM83aOsi
— jay (@JMillzTheReal) October 21, 2019
Hmm.. well I don’t disagree.
The QB talk is gonna be hideous this week. I’m gonna try to stay off Twitter.
2. First quarter woes, again
Sleepwalking again in the first quarter. They come out so flat and so uninspired.
Here’s how they’ve finished the first 15 minutes through seven weeks:
- week 1 / Redskins: 10-0
- week 2 / Falcons: 3-0
- week 3 / Lions: (actually won first quarter 10-7)
- week 4 / Packers: 7-0
- week 5 / Jets : (won first quarter 14-0)
- week 6 / Vikings: 10-0
- week 7 / Cowboys: 14-7
They’ve been outscored 51 to 31 in the first quarter this season. Take away that Luke Falk game and it’s 51 to 17 in the other six weeks.
3. Stinky defense
The Birds defense got screwed with some short fields last night after the early turnovers, but still gave up chunk yardage and first downs when they did have decent starting points.
Dallas went 8-14 on third down, which is 57%. That number was so high that the Cowboys reclaimed the #1 spot in the NFL for third down conversion rate, sitting at the top with 51.8%. They moved the chains and controlled the clock and did what the Eagles used to do two seasons ago.
This was a good thread to highlight how smelly the Birds have been defensively this year, so I wanted to share it with y’all this morning:
In the last 30 years, no team has allowed 20+ first half points thru week 7 more times than the Eagles (5 times).
They are tied with the 2002 Bengals, who also allowed 20+ first half points 5 times.
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 21, 2019
My God. The 2002 Bengals were 2-14. They were horrible. They had Chad Johnson, Corey Dillon, Lorenzo Neal, Takeo Spikes, and that’s about it.
Are the Eagles the 2002 Bengals?
4. Blitzing and not getting there, part 3
I feel like I use a clip like this every week.
One of the problems is that the Eagles can’t cover anybody, nor do they consistently pressure the quarterback with their once-stellar pass rush. So Jim Schwartz dials up blitzes that just don’t get there, and quarterbacks are recognizing this pre-snap and simply calling audibles that are cooking the Eagles down the field:
That’s another zero cover blitz, where the four defensive backs are in man coverage with no safety help. Dak Prescott knows nobody is going to be in the middle of the field, so he just kills the play, throws the slant to Randall Cobb, and Orlando Scandrick is starting 10 yards deep, which leaves a huge gap right between the hash marks.
Look at the space here:
5. Chunky yards
Do they still do that segment called “c’mon man” on ESPN? The one with Keyshawn Johnson and Cris Carter?
This is my “c’mon man” nomination from the game:
3rd and 12, again Schwartz is dialing up pressure, which is negated by the perfectly called screen pass.
Thing that bugs me is that Jalen Mills is so far off his assignment on the weak side that he’s in no position to do anything. La’el Collins is out in the flat before he can close on Michael Gallup, so he tries to re-route and then runs into Zack Martin, who is shoving Josh Sweat down the field after the D-end is asked to drop into coverage on the opposite side of the blitz.
Look at where Mills is here, trying to make a play, then stopping because he knows he’s screwed:
6. Mistakes and Breaks
Turd sandwich right here.
- Goedert fumble
- holding on kick return after first Dallas touchdown
- Wentz fumble
- defensive confusion on the third Cowboy touchdown, with 12th man trying to get off the field
- block in the back on Boston Scott’s good punt return
- roughing the passer penalty against Jaylon Smith on 3rd and 10 of the third drive (I hate this call and we would be bitching if was whistled against an Eagle)
- Leighton Vander Esch having to come out of the game
- Robert Quinn also leaving the game
Not a lot to write, really. They just got slapped around. It wasn’t a very dramatic or detailed game, was it? It was rather straightforward. The Cowboys proceeded straightforward into the end zone.
7. Ancillary wins and losses
Defeats across the board:
- lost time of possession 32:33 to 27:38
- -3 turnover margin
- 3-9 on third down (33%)
- 1-2 on fourth down
- allowed Cowboys to go 8-14 on third down (57.1%)
- lost 23 yards on 3 sacks
- 0-2 success rate in the red zone
- 5 penalties for 40 yards
- 16 first downs, 23 for Dallas
- ran 57 total plays, Dallas 66
Pretty hideous marks there. They lost in pretty much every department, from TOP to turnovers, third down rate and everything in between.
8. Doug’s best call
For the second week in a row, I have nothing to write in this entry.
I guess you could go to the Wentz touchdown pass and say that they did a nice job sending the tight end from the zone side of the field to the man side of the field, which Cris Collinsworth talked about on the broadcast.
There. That’s the one thing I could think of.
9. Doug’s worst call
Wasn’t a huge fan of the 3rd and 4 draw play on the fourth drive. Felt like an Andy Reid type of call. They went with three straight runs on that drive, which was a three and out, when the game was only 14-7 and the defense had just forced a punt.
Also wasn’t a fan of whatever the hell this team did in practice this week. I’m not big on the “(coach) has lost the locker room” narrative, but you can definitely tell that this team is not buying in the way they used to.
Malpractice, too, the way Roseman has handled the linebacker position over the last two years.
10. Sunday night football
Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.
I honestly didn’t pay too much attention, since I was in a pseudo-daze, but I’ve said before that I don’t think Collinsworth is as bad as everybody makes him out to be. He talks about Xs and Os. He’ll get out the telestrator and try to explain things to us.
One thing I did enjoy was NBC mics picking up that guy yelling “are you fucking kidding me?” from the crowd. I laughed at that.
But this game was so bad that I swear I heard Michaels talking about the Miracle on Ice in the fourth quarter. I don’t blame him either, since the game was over and it was boring. Gotta fill time with something interesting.
Final word goes to Charles Barkley, who described the Birds loss as such: