It Was Never in Doubt – Ten Takeaways from Eagles 22, Giants 21

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It shouldn’t have come down to that.

It shouldn’t require two fourth quarter touchdowns to beat the stinky New York Giants at home, but that’s what was required. The Eagles erased an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to scrape by with a comeback win and improve to 2-4-1 on the season as the Giants did what they normally do, which is pitifully collapse under pressure.

Prior to the rally, the original title of this story was “Somebody Needs to be Fired,” which would have been justified considering they were about to lose to a sad excuse of a football team. Instead we’ll call it a stay of execution. We’re happy about the win but wary of what the future holds.

We know this team is not a playoff threat as currently constructed, but since the NFC East is pathetic, our glass-half-full scenario is that the Birds get some guys healthy, round into form in the coming weeks, and try to salvage a thus far forgettable season.

In the meantime, we’ll enjoy an Eagles win on a Friday morning. It’s a… VICTORYYYYYYYY, as Ike Reese would say.

1. Jekyll and Hyde under center

I don’t get it.

One minute, Carson Wentz looks like Christian Hackenberg-meets-Blake Bortles out there, then he comes out and throws an insane dart right over Jabrill Peppers for a game-winning touchdown. An insane dart to a 5’7″ backup running back.

Wentz finished 25-43, threw a bad interception and took a couple of bad sacks, but he led the Eagles on touchdown drives of 71 and 78 yards to come back and win. 359 yards was a season high and again he spread the ball around, finding eight different receivers on the evening.

It’s like riding the world’s most maddening rollercoaster, because you see these extreme moments of greatness coupled with extremely boneheaded mistakes and errors. If only there was a way to pull it out of him consistently and even the curve, instead of experiencing these outrageously high highs and ridiculously low lows.

I am begging you, Carson, please find the consistency. Please help me help you. You can quiet all of the noise by playing like you did in the 4th quarter last night.

2. His best pass of the year?

Said Wentz about his throw to Boston Scott:

“He wasn’t the primary read on that play. The way it happened – I stepped up in the pocket – and Peppers had pretty good coverage. But (I gave) Boston a chance there to make a play and he did. He plays bigger than whatever he is – five-foot seven – he plays bigger than that. He made a great play. I was pretty surprised when we pulled it off. When I threw it I thought it was a little high, but like I said, he plays bigger than he is. 

“There were a couple different options. All the guys – not all the guys – a lot of them were breaking into the end zone. Just the way it kind of played out, they had bracket coverage on guys and Boston had one-on-one coverage down there on the sideline. Again, it wasn’t necessarily that he was the primary, but find the guy that had one-on-one coverage when they play that type of matchup and we did and obviously hit big on it.”

These are the kinds of throws Carson was missing on earlier in the year, stuff down the sidelines where he was putting the ball too far inside instead of laying it towards the boundary and letting guys make a play:

And not to stir the pot or create any kind of unnecessary drama, but that’s a Nick Foles throw. That’s a “I’m gonna put it into this area and give you a chance” kind of throw, which you don’t always attempt when throwing to backups and practice squad guys. Every single one of these tough completions can only do good things for Carson’s psyche moving forward, and maybe it results in more consistency.

3. Take the points, Doug

Down 14-10 at the beginning of the 4th quarter, they were on a eight-play drive that went 66 yards down the field.

Please, Doug, just kick the field goal and take the points. And I know Jake Elliott missed one earlier, but surely he’s not gonna miss a second one from that distance.

Instead, Doug Pederson calls a quarterback draw on 3rd and goal (his second of the night) and then the 4th down play is a fade to Hakeem Butler. Seriously? Hakeem Butler, who wasn’t on the team to begin the year and has zero targets this season?

Not for nothing, but he was interfered with on the play:

Still, that’s such a bad sequence. You have to come up with something better than that in the red zone. Better 2-point conversion plays, too. Doug is just overthinking it entirely; it’s oftentimes bad decision making masked as “aggressiveness.”

4. Daniel Jones, tackled by ghosts

Surely one of the best NFL plays of all time. Daniel Jones was going into the Giants history books with this run, then he inexplicably just lost his balance and fell over before making it to the end zone:

Said Jones afterward:

“I just tried to run faster than I was running and I got caught up. We finished the drive and scored a touchdown. That was a relief to me for sure.”

I kept watching that and thinking to myself, ‘jeez, Daniel Jones is pretty fast.’ You watch Jalen Mills and Nickell Robey-Coleman try to keep up and they look like they’re running in molasses, in comparison, but good on Mills specifically to haul ass down the field and not give up on the play.

5. Is Jake Elliott a problem?

He missed from 29 yards last night and missed from 50+ on Sunday. One of those is forgivable and one is not, but he’s now 25% over his last four kicks and just 8-12 on the season.

Some of these kicks are not easy, and we can put a big asterisk on the 57-yarder from a few weeks back, but sometimes when you’re missing those it starts to trickle down into other easier kicks, and then your confidence starts to waver.

For some necessary context, Elliott earns top-10 kicker money following that extension he signed last November. But he’s only 19-26 since signing that deal (73%), which ranks him bottom ten among all NFL kickers. The Eagles aren’t getting what they paid for.

6. Mistakes and breaks

Pretty long lists for both teams:

Mistakes:

  1. Matt Pryor illegal formation penalty on the first Jalen Hurts play.
  2. Darius Slay early DPI (iffy?)
  3. Sua Opeta holding on a nice running play.
  4. Carson Wentz horrific intentional grounding.
  5. Calling timeout on 2nd and 26.
  6. Wentz interception.
  7. Elliott missing a 29-yard field goal
  8. NRC defensive pass interference in the end zone.
  9. Cre’Von LeBlanc DPI on third down.
  10. Not getting the challenge flag out fast enough on the Giants’ 3rd and 9 conversion in the red zone.
  11. Jason Kelce facemask penalty at the end of the 4th.

 

Couple big ones there, point swings and whatnot. The 3rd and 9 was a big deal and could have been the difference between seven points or three, but Doug was trying to throw the challenge flag and just didn’t get it out before the next play.

Breaks:

  1. Giants OPI on their opening drive.
  2. Not getting burned on the first punt, when they were having issues getting the correct personnel on the field.
  3. Wentz’s ridiculous cross-field pass not being picked off.
  4. Dion Lewis fumble.
  5. Duke Riley not bobbling the inexplicable Rodney McLeod lateral.
  6. Daniel Jones falling over before making it to the end zone.
  7. Evan Engram alligator-arms on the 4th quarter drop.
  8. Defensive holding in the end zone on final drive.
  9. Giants’ offensive holding penalty on their final attempt to get in field goal range.

 

Evan Engram’s drop could have iced the game. What an absolutely brutal play for them. Going over the quote sheet, that was a recurring question from Giants reporters, and Joe Judge and Daniel Jones didn’t want to throw Engram under the bus, but he clearly did not get full extension on that pass attempt and came up small in a really big moment.

Imagine if an Eagle dropped this ball:

It would be “Unlike Agholor” times 10,000.

7. Ancillary wins and losses

Let’s take a look, shall we?

  • won time of possession 32:17 to 27:43
  • +2 turnover margin
  • 4-13 on third down (30.7%)
  • 1-2  on fourth down
  • allowed Giants to go 3-10 on third down (30%)
  • lost 13 yards on three sacks (grounding not included)
  • 3-8 success rate in the red zone
  • 7 penalties for 75 yards
  • 27 first downs, 17 for New York
  • ran 72 total plays, New York 55

 

Those are 2017 Eagles numbers in TOP, turnover margin, and the limitation of opponent third downs, though they did allow some via committed penalties.

That 3-8 red zone number really pops though. That’s the single-worst red zone number I’ve seen since I started writing this column more than three years ago. It’s something they really need to work on with the extra practice time they’ll get this week.

8. Doug’s best call?

Liked the decision to get DeSean Jackson the ball on the very first play, try to get him involved right off the bat and make him part of the game. Unfortunately he got injured on a bullshit cheap shot and can’t catch a break.

I also liked the 3rd and 3 quarterback draw play, not the second one, but the first one, which just allowed Carson to keep working his feet and building that dynamic back into his game.

Overall, the Birds were good in tempo and bad in everything else.

9. Doug’s worst call?

You have to let Jalen Hurts throw the ball at some point. When he’s in the game it’s nothing but zone read and option (until the final failed two-point conversion attempt). This is a guy who threw for 3,800 yards in the Big 12 and had two 2,000+ passing yards in the SEC as a younger player. And no, the Big 12 is not rolling out good defenses on a weekly basis, but the guy is not a scrub. He has a highlight reel of very good throws over a four-year college career, so you’re only limiting him when you put him in the game to run nothing but read and option plays.

Other bad calls? Just didn’t like anything Doug did in the red zone in this game. Didn’t like the two-point conversions, didn’t like the Hakeem Butler fade, etc.

10. Bored broadcasters

No hot mic comments about military flyovers during this broadcast. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman did an admirable job calling this stinker of a game. You could tell they were thinking to themselves, “I can’t believe we have to watch this slop.”

I also have to shout out the FOX producer who gave us Rush after first TD. He played ‘The Spirit of Radio’ out to commercial break, which was a great job by her or she. They also played The Dead Milkmen’s ‘Punk Rock Girl,’ which is a cool deep cut. Local band, too. The Dead Milkmen are from Philly. 

Also, the sideline reporter, Kristina Pink, did anyone do a double take when she said that Lansdale is 40 miles from Philadelphia?  I think she meant to say 40 minutes, because 40 miles would get you all the way to Pottstown from Center City. We discussed this on Twitter and determined that the Lansdale train station is 37.3 miles from Lincoln Financial Field, so she probably just mapped it from the stadium and then rounded up. If you re-run it from Lansdale to City Hall, you get 32.4 miles.

So there you go. You get a geography lesson and a Philadelphia Eagles victory on a Friday morning. It’s a great way to start your weekend.

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