LAST year (almost to the day), we lost 20 – 27 to the Chiefs, and I wrote something eerily prophetic about our championship run. If you were in any way disheartened by this loss, or you feel the Eagles are missing something, I urge you to re-read that review. It will help to put this game into perspective.
Eagles 21 – Buccaneers 27
Due to a vicious rash of injuries (some of which started last year), we had to dig very deep into the roster this week. Receivers like TE Joshua Perkins (4 – 57 – 14.2 – 0) and WR Kamar Aiken (5 – 39 – 7.8 – 0) were making serious contributions, with the game still in contention.
Starting RB Jay Ajayi (7 – 23 – 3.2 – 1 – 0) spent much of the game on the sideline getting treatment on his back. Meanwhile RB Corey Clement (6 – 30 – 5.0 – 1 – 0 / 5 – 55 – 11.0 – 0), and RB Wendell Smallwood (7 – 28 – 4.0 – 0 – 0), picked up the slack in our ground game.
The biggest head scratcher was QB Nick Foles (35/48 – 72.9% – 334 – 1 – 0). While many fans seem quick to bail on him, I’m going to talk about why I think he look the way he does. (But this article isn’t the place to do that. This drops Monday, that one drops Tuesday.)
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these “Four Things” articles. We introduce an idea of what needs addressing BEFORE the game, so that fans have to honestly answer questions about those things, AFTER the game. This helps to get us, and keep us, all on the same page.
So, of the Four Things we were looking for in this last game, what exactly did we see?
1) Chasing Private Ryan: We managed to get two sacks and a few hurries on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (27/33 – 81.8% – 402 – 4 – 1), but most of that was in the first half. With temperatures on the field reaching 102 degrees, our Defense simply didn’t have the same snap in the second half of the game. As a result, instead of allowing Fitzpatrick to complete 75% of his passes like he did against the Saints, we allowed him to complete 82%. No defense can survive that. NOT DONE
2) Run the rock: Our play selection was 48 passes to 24 runs. Three of those runs were by Nick Foles, two of which were QB Sneaks on 4th down. One was a 2 yard, (direct snap) Jet Sweep to WR Nelson Agholor (8rec – 88 – 11.0 – 1). That’s 48 passes to 20 hand-offs, against an undersized front seven which surrendered 81 yards and 2 touchdowns to our RB’s (4.0 per tote). This was a horrendous missed opportunity. NOT DONE
3) Play Cover Two: I specifically said that CB Jalen Mills (5 – 0 – 0 – 0) shouldn’t be matched up with WR DeSean Jackson (4 – 129 – 32.2 – 1). Djax drew Mills on the first play of the game, and tore his asshole open for a 75 yard score. WR Mike Evans (10 – 83 – 8.3 – 1) also victimized Mills for a 4 yard score. And still we STAYED in Single-high coverage despite the fact that it hardly even slowed down a journeyman QB. NOT DONE
4) Heavy play-action: This is a tough one. We sorta did this one, but we really didn’t do it at all. You can’t really employ play-action if you aren’t really running the ball. Also, play-action requires a QB to move after faking the hand-off. Many times Foles would fake it and then stand tall in the pocket. So while he went through the motions, he never bothered to sell it. That wouldn’t be so frustrating if we didn’t all know that Foles can and has, sold snake oil to defenses. NOT DONE
That brings this week’s Four Things score to 0 for 4, which puts us at 3 for 8 on the year. Word has been handed down that QB Carson Wentz will be cleared for contact this week. This has people (not me), hoping he starts at home, next week against the Colts. Hopefully the Eagles will give Wentz a week of shakedown time, and we’ll see Foles again.
On The Whole:
This is what happens when the Eagles skip a week of reading these articles. Let this loss serve as a lesson, Doug! And now I can begin to bitch about this loss, in earnest.
I’m kidding, I have nothing to bitch about. While this was a dumb loss, which I lay it at the feet of the coaching staff, I think we needed this sort of fight. It’s the start of the season, and we’re already the Walking Wounded. Plus we didn’t look great in the preseason.
This game had guys fighting though injury to play, and guys practically off the street, playing significant roles. This was a game where guys got a chance to step up and show what they can do, and maybe change the coaching staff’s mind about their place on the depth chart. This was a chance for our starters to get a look at their back-ups and to be motivated by what they see.
This game was a chance for this team to measure whether or not the players have enough fight in them. This was a chance to see if there were any quitters on the team, so that they can be weeded out early on.
I’m proud to say that I didn’t see that out there. Even the announcers remarked how there was no panic on our sideline. We looked and acted like champions out there. Even the new guys. Dumb loss, but not a bad one.