My dog barfed all over the carpet around 10:26 p.m., following a Philadelphia Eagles punt.
Can you blame him? He was probably just as sick as the human beings watching that Birds performance, and could no longer hold his Rachael Ray Nutrish grain-free kibble.
Baxter ralphing all over the place seems like a symbolic moment to sum up the football game itself. It was barfy. Watching the Cowboys cruise up and down the field made you want to blow chunks, and the Eagles’ offense couldn’t do “diddly poo,” as the great Jim Mora once said. It was, by far, one of the most pitiful Birds games we’ve watched in the past 20 years, and God knows there have been some duds along the way.
But never fear, the Eagles can get this corrected over the next few games. They just have to run a gauntlet that includes the Chiefs, Panthers, Bucs, and Raiders. Good God. We’re quite possibly looking at 1-6 coming out of that stretch. Thankfully we’ll always have that preseason joint practice championship to look back on.
1) Hurts so bad
Jalen Hurts had a rough one. 25-39 for 326 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He had some nice throws in the second half and showed a lot of resilience, but the box score honestly makes the performance look better than it was. His early struggles contributed to Dallas getting out in front and building that lead.
Obviously the first interception was underthrown. Hurts lofted it up there. Seems like he’s trying to finesse the ball down the field rather than driving it, which was the issue in Week 2. Peyton Manning noted on the alternate broadcast that Jalen Reagor got a little pinned to the sideline on that play, similar to what happened last week with the touchdown that was called back due to illegal touching.
Later, on the second interception, the pick 6, DeVonta Smith fell down, but Trevon Diggs had such a jump on that ball that he may have picked it anyway. Easy pass break up at the very least:
Eli Manning: "Receivers should not be allowed to fall down on a route. You got one thing to do: run your route, do not trip." 😂 pic.twitter.com/UYlIzTshsy
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) September 28, 2021
Nothing profound to say here. Hurts has to be better. He knows it, too. He equated the loss to taking a dump that you don’t look at, but flush down the toilet instead.
2) Roll that Blount, please
The Eagles finished with one rushing attempt in the first quarter. One! And only two Miles Sanders carries in the first half. On the evening, they went 12 times on the ground for 64 yards while throwing the ball 39 times.
The most ridiculous stat of the game goes something like this:
Corey Clement, who is the Cowboys’ third running back, got more carries than Miles Sanders.
No joke. Clement got three carries in garbage time and Sanders got two in the entire game. That is coaching malpractice on Nick Sirianni’s part.
The Eagles needed to “Roll that Blount,” as those random dudes outside NovaCare said a few years ago:
3) Three-man rush
If you’ve read this column over the years, you know my disdain for drop-eight zone coverage. It works in the college game, when you’re playing bullshit Big 12 football, but in the NFL those three-man rushes are so much less effective against seasoned professionals.
Case in point, the Birds went with that coverage on the fourth down play the Cowboys scored on. Here’s the sequence:
— Dallas Cowboys Collaboration (@mailman_phil) September 28, 2021
They drop Derek Barnett into coverage and spy Dak Prescott with Patrick Johnson. But with no pressure he’s just going to slide out of the pocket and wait for somebody to get open. In this case, Darius Slay is asked to cover Cedrick Wilson for more than five seconds, which just isn’t feasible.
Not a fan of that coverage, not in that situation and not ever. In a 3v5 up front, two defensive lineman are going to be double-teamed, so you’re reliant on the third guy to win his 1v1 battle or the spy/spur/bandit linebacker needs to address the quarterback. Jonathan Gannon made some second-half adjustments, but for the most part his two-deep scheme was gashed by a Cowboys team that bossed the line of scrimmage and pounded this subpar linebacker corps.
That's 12 penalties tonight and 34 in three games, most in franchise history, breaking a 65-year-old record.
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) September 28, 2021
Great job! The Eagles are the most penalized NFL team through three weeks.
5) Got one from the refs
The Eagles actually got a call in Dallas (and still lost by 20 points). Never thought we’d see the day.
This was very obviously a touchdown, but the refs ruled this a fumble in live action and then didn’t have enough video evidence to overturn it. My understanding is that this overhead view from ESPN was not accessible to the zebras, and so they couldn’t come up with anything conclusive for a reversal and the call on the field stood:
We’ll take it. Too bad they couldn’t do anything meaningful with that bit of fortune.
6) Mistakes and breaks
I have to be honest with you; I was up late with a two-week old and was incredibly distracted while watching this terrible performance. I probably missed a number of things in this section.
- Hurts interceptions (2x)
- Too many players on the field coming out of a timeout.
- Marcus Epps getting whistled for a facemask.
- Derek Barnett juuuuuust a little early on that offside call.
- Holding penalty wiping out a good Hurts pass.
- Zach Ertz false start
- ineligible man downfield to start a drive
- Milton Williams offside
- blah blah blah I stopped keeping track
Derek Barnett drives me absolutely crazy. He’s got the Andrew Sendejo gene, i.e. he MUST commit one dumbass penalty per game. You know it, I know it, and the coaches know it, too:
i’m dead Derek Barnett got a penalty and you can read the Eagles HC lips
“it’s always him” 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/INbtEF1PyV
— Terrence Murphy (@PhirstPharaoh) September 28, 2021
- CeeDee Lamb slipping and/or running a crappy route on the Dak end zone fumble.
- Dak touchdown overturned.
- Dallas holding call giving them first and goal at the 20 yard line.
- Dallas missing an extra point.
- IDIOT Cowboys not calling timeouts before halftime. What a bunch of dopes.
There was a lot of talk on Twitter about that call the refs overturned before halftime. Cedrick Wilson down the sideline. Not sure what the zebra was looking at there, but it seemed like he was just wowed by the athleticism of the catch and just said “fuck it, I guess both feet were in,” even though they clearly were not. Sirianni shouldn’t have had to throw the challenge flag on that, but alas…
7) Ancillary wins and losses
- lost time of possession 34:58 to 25:02
- -1 turnover margin
- 4-12 on third down (33%)
- 0-2 on fourth down
- allowed Cowboys to go 6-12 on third down (50%)
- lost 23 yards on two sacks
- 2-2 success rate in the red zone
- 13 penalties for 86 yards
- 12 first downs, 27 for Dallas
- ran 53 total plays, Dallas 77
At halftime, the Cowboys had more first downs than the Eagles had total plays run. That’s insane. And when you don’t run the ball and can’t chew clock, you get bossed in time of possession. This is the second straight week that the Eagles were crushed in TOP by an almost-10 minute margin. That is alarming, and if you go back to 2017 when the Birds won it all, they were a top-three NFL team at eating clock, keeping the offense on the field, and wearing down opposing defenses.
8) Nick’s best call?
Probably simplifying things on the big third quarter touchdown drive.
That’s all I can think of. He did not have a good game.
9) Nick’s worst call?
Did not like the second drive, with three straight passes while backed up in their own end zone. Run the damn football.
You could also question the decision to punt right before halftime, since Dallas decided not to use any timeouts. It was 4th and 5 from the Dallas 49 and they had about 20 seconds to move into field goal range. There was an earlier punt, too, also on 4th and 5 at the Dallas 46 with 5:06 left in the second. Both of those choices felt somewhat conservative for a guy who we thought was going to be more aggressive.
10) Broadcasting choices
Multiple options for this game. Regular ESPN broadcast. Peyton and Eli Manning broadcast. Merrill Reese on the radio call.
I went with Peyton and Eli because you just learn more from two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks who are explaining defensive looks and coverages. There are things you get that you just wouldn’t get from the main broadcast. The only issue I think is that you miss some of the on-field explanations, penalties, reviews, and things like that, since Eli and Peyton are just sort of riffing. But bringing on guests like LeBron James and Nick Saban is really cool and unique. I also appreciated Eli flipping the double birds and saying “you can blur that out, right?”
I did go back to the regular broadcast for a bit and caught that shout out for Giovanni Hamilton, which was nice. A bright spot during an otherwise utterly forgettable game. Put this one in the bagster. We suck again!