When Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception on the very first play, you thought it might be one of those days. It might be one of those days where a stinky team just rolls over and dies while collecting a game check and moving on to whatever comes next.
It did happen, but it happened to the Eagles, not the Dolphins. The Birds were the stinky team that rolled over and died, with Jim Schwartz’s defense putting up the resistance of a paper bag that once held ACME canned goods, but it got wet, the bottom fell out, and it was discarded along Oregon Avenue. The cornerbacks looked like Walmart greeters trying to prevent a Black Friday trampling.
It was worse than the scoreline would have you believe. The Eagles ran into an opponent with nothing to lose, coached by a staff that rolled out a kitchen sink of 4th down attempts, an onside kick, and a gadget play where the punter threw a touchdown to the kicker. Miami was fun and aggressive while the Eagles looked like a Wawa cashier struggling to find the right cigarettes for the guy standing at the front of the line, holding everybody else up and ultimately wasting our time.
I know Jeffrey Lurie isn’t the type of owner to speak after games, but if ever there was an opportunity for him to get in front of the cameras and call out this nonsense for what it is, it’s right now. Turns out the “new norm” is feckless football, complemented by a lack of heart, talent, and creativity. This is the lowest point we’ve hit since the Super Bowl win.
Other than all of that, it was a good team performance!
1. Carson Wentz and a moving pocket
They didn’t lose the game because of the quarterback, though I sense that Sunday’s outing wasn’t enough to satisfy the Carson Wentz haters. Theoretically, 31 points should be enough to beat the Miami Dolphins, and if Zach Ertz brought Freddie Mitchell’s hands to South Florida, then maybe things would have turned out differently.
What I liked from Wentz on Sunday:
- hitting Miles Sanders this time on a wide-open swing pass
- the back shoulder toss for Alshon Jeffery on the 2nd drive
- tight window to Nelson Agholor on that third down
- on the second touchdown pass, extending the play with his legs
- the very pretty pass on the two-point conversion
- staying in the pocket for the deep shot to Jeffery, which resulted in defensive pass interference
- the 4th quarter sideline throw for Agholor, which was overturned and ruled a catch
- the end zone toss to Ertz, which he couldn’t haul in
Honest to God, no sarcasm here, I thought Doug Pederson and Mike Groh did a better job getting Wentz moving with some designed roll outs and play-action plays. He looked better when he was mobile, and even though this one was improvised, I thought it was one of his best sequences of the day:
Third and goal, Wentz finds JJ Arcega-Whiteside for the touchdown! pic.twitter.com/hCvA83bHPG
— DIE-HARD 🦅 Fans (@Eaglesfans9) December 1, 2019
3rd and goal from the 15, so it’s touchdown or bust on that play. Good awareness to feel the pocket collapse, shift to his right, and then have enough patience to wait for a receiver to get open.
What I did not like:
- throwing the ball directly at a defender on the second drive
- sailing a ball high on Agholor
- on the play-action from the shotgun on the third drive, he probably should have just hit Ertz on the short release
- right before halftime, overthrowing Agholor in the flat
- held the ball too long on the 3rd and 7 sack, though nobody was open (just throw it away and take the shorter field goal try)
- overthrew Jeffery on the sideline in the 3rd quarter, play right after the penalty
- throwing deep into double coverage for Jeffery
Shrug. I dunno what else to say about Wentz. He threw for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns, and if Ertz converts one of those plays, we’re probably talking about a 6-6 Eagles squad right now. It would also have helped if the defense showed one-tenth of a pulse instead putting the team in a shootout with a god-awful Miami squad.
The quarterback can be better, as we all know, but he wasn’t problem #1 in this loss.
2. Paying homage to Izel Jenkins
If you’re under the age of 30, you probably don’t remember legendary Eagles cornerback Izel Jenkins, who was nicknamed “toast” because he always got burned by opposing receivers.
Sunday, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby were paying homage to the man as they took turns getting absolutely roasted by DeVante Parker and others.
Take your pick of plays, but I’ll go with this one, where Mills didn’t even jump to contest the pass:
They’re playing zone there, so Kamu Grugier-Hill is going to pass off Gesicki to Mills, who just.. I don’t know. He doesn’t jump. He doesn’t seem to think the ball is going in his direction. Fitzpatrick throws a nice high pass towards a size mismatch, but Mills does such a poor job tracking and timing whatever challenge that was.
I’ll say this, however –
At least Mills and Darby talked to reporters after the game. Some of the other main guys declined, which tells you all you need to know about this 2019 squad.
3. Driving down the field, with the Dolphins
Fitzpatrick has thrown for 767 yards and seven touchdowns in the last two games against Schwartz’s defense.
After the Eagles went up 10-0, he led the Dolphins on drives of:
- 6 plays, 84 yards, touchdown (2:40 off the clock)
- 13 plays, 75 yards, touchdown (6:29 off the clock)
- 6 plays, 75 yards, touchdown (2:59 off the clock)
- 6 plays, 61 yards, touchdown (3:24 off the clock)
- 9 plays, 96 yards, touchdown (3:36 off the clock)
- 13 plays, 50 yards, field goal (5:52 off the clock)
Those drives weren’t even long. Miami was just rolling right down the field, playing fast and loose and dropping bombs on your moms. Only two of their scoring drives went longer than 10 plays, and one of those was the field goal.
I’m not exactly sure how the Eagles do a fantastic job against the Patriots (Tom Brady) and Seahawks (Russell Wilson), then get sliced and diced by the Dolphins. It’s beyond appalling.
4. “High-pointing” the football
I rarely devote an entry to an opposing player, but it was genuinely enjoyable watching DeVante Parker play on Sunday.
Because he does what Eagle receivers haven’t been able to do for years, which is high-point a ball. That’s just a fancy way of saying that he attacks the ball at a position where he can extend over the defensive back and limit the chance of a pass break-up.
Behold, some screen shots of Parker snagging footballs in perfect spots:
I’d love to see an Eagle receiver do that. One can dream.
5. When the punter throws a touchdown pass to the kicker
For the third straight week, the Eagles were cooked on a trick play.
This time the god damn kicker caught a SHOVEL PASS from the punter, who had lined up behind a single lineman with the nine other players split out wide. Andy Reid would have loved to come up with this play:
(Video by Miami Dolphins/Twitter) pic.twitter.com/YeclSoQgNk
— CapSportsReport (@CapSportsReport) December 1, 2019
Why not call a timeout there? Get yourself sorted, first off. Second, the stoppage also serves to make Miami think twice about running that play, right? Maybe they say, ‘you know what, fuck it, let’s just kick the field goal instead.’
But yeah, somebody has gotta be running down the sideline there screaming for a timeout. Run onto the field, throw your hat at the ref, do something like that.
6. Mistakes and breaks
Shockingly, the Eagles committed more gaffes:
- false start penalty on the 4th and 2 roll out that would have moved the sticks
- a second false start in the red zone
- Ertz dropped pass (might have found the end zone on the first one)
- Jake Elliott missing his first field goal of the season
- Tim Jernigan not exactly a fantastic penalty for hitting Fitzpatrick (had two on the day)
- Nigel Bradham dropping what looked like a pick-six
- Ertz another end zone drop (good defensive play as well, in my mind)
OF COURSE Jake Elliott missed his first field after signing the new contract. He’s now 17-18 this year and that 49-yard miss would have put the Birds up 31-20 with 4:34 remaining in the third.
- Dolphins corner dropping the interception after Ertz fell down
- Miami missed extra point
RE: the refs –
I’m not sure what the hell was up with the called pick play on the 3rd down where Jeffery was also contacted beyond the line of scrimmage. Just throw offsetting flags and replay the down. Thankfully for the Eagles, that Agholor catch was overturned, which gave them some life, but it felt like the refs were inconsistent overall on the day.
7. Ancillary wins and losses
Only two truly bad numbers here:
- lost time of possession 31:18 to 28:42
- 0 turnover margin (was +1 until final play of the game)
- 7-14 on third down (50%)
- 0-0 on fourth down
- allowed Dolphins to go 5-12 on third down (41.6%)
- lost 16 yards on 2 sacks
- 3-4 success rate in the red zone
- 10 penalties for 91 yards
- 23 first downs, 26 for Dolphins
- ran 67 total plays, Miami 63
Penalties and time of possession, not great. They typically do well in both of those areas but stunk it up on Sunday. Everything else was typical Eagles – good third down number, didn’t take too many sacks, etc. Bummer.
8. Doug’s best call?
Some of the designed pocket-moving plays for Wentz.
9. Doug’s worst call?
Not enough running of the ball. A 46 to 19 pass/run ratio against a team that is hideous against the run is just unfathomable to me. Miles Sanders was running for 4.9 yards a pop and only got the ball 17 times, which very easily could have been 18-22 carries in Jordan Howard’s absence. Miami came into this game allowing 148.2 yards on the ground and the Eagles mustered only 92 because they decided to chuck it on 71% of their plays instead.
Here’s how Judge Judy reacted when finding out that the Eagles only ran the ball 19 times against the NFL’s 31st-ranked run defense:
10. Broadcast notes
Kenny Albert and Ronde Barber with Pete Schrager. The Eagles always play like dog shit when Albert is on the call and I’m not sure why that is.
Barber seemed to be having fun, not taking the game too seriously. I heard him say Nathan “Jerry” at one point, and Carson “Palmer” was another good flub, though he corrected himself mid-sentence on that one. I also believe there was a shot during the broadcast where people appeared to be playing dominoes, and Barber said “that’s definitely Mahjong.”
But the best of all was the accidental F bomb heard on live television:
Haha he did pic.twitter.com/pe1qZIlA35
— Ryan Maloney (@_ryanmaloney) December 1, 2019
“…to run up and throw on the move like he does, but he fucking, he finds plays…”
Good point by Barber; Fitzpatrick does fucking find plays to make, especially against Philadelphia.
I also agreed with Ronde when he said the Eagles would be “disappointed” with this performance. That was a good observation by him.
Anyway, it’s another crappy and cold Monday in the Delaware Valley, but let’s try to have a laugh as we wrap up this Pulitzer Prize-winning article: