THIS was a well deserved loss. We earned that shit. Yay, us. Whether you want to point to the Special Teams celebrating before a kick-off, the Offense throwing shallow routes to players that then headed out of bounds in the 4th quarter, or the Defense being yet again incapable of generating a turnover, there is plenty of blame and SHAME to go around this week.
Eagles 17 – Panthers 21
Don’t get cute. That’s what cost the Eagles this game. Just like the Titans game. Not being able to finish at the end, can be pointed to as a cause of this team now being sub .500. Let me say that again. The Eagles are SUB .500.
QB Carson Wentz (30/37 – 81.0 – 310 – 2 – 0) was completely on his game, save for that one errant throw that left his hand weird, on the last drive. WR Alshon Jeffery (7 – 88 – 12.5 – 1) and TE Zach Ertz (9 -138 – 15.3 – 0) were out there looking like the Dynamic Duo. They seemed to ZAP! POW! ZLORP! any coverage they faced all day. After watching RB Wendell Smallwood (9 – 32 – 3.6 – 0 – 0) demonstrate that he’s NEVER a threat to break one, and RB Corey Clement (8 – 6 – 0.7 – 0 – 1) nearly ruin a scoring drive, GM Howie Roseman is probably pantless and bent over a desk with Pittsburgh as you read this.
Defensively? Our defenders should be paid 75 cents on the dollar for this week. It would only be fair.
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) Make their RB beat us: That was going well until the Defense shrugged their shoulders and left to get an early dinner or whatever. RB Christian McCaffery (7 – 29 – 4.1 – 0 – 0 / 6 – 51 – 8.5 – 0) was held in check even as the intermediate and deep passing game was taken away from the Panthers. It makes this part hard to grade, because for three quarters we were pitching a shutout with this approach. It wasn’t until we… You know what. When we did it, it worked, and we did it for over half the game. I’m going to grade it on a technicality and on that alone. DONE
2) Get a second WR involved: WR Nelson Agholor (6 – 20 – 3.3 – 0) didn’t even average 5 yards (just half a first down) per catch, so it’s hard to put him down as “involved”. As a result, the run game yielded 58 yards on 24 carries for a grand average of 2.4 yards. No serious offense can live that way. NOT DONE
3) Surprise me!: Given our thin cupboard at DT, the Eagles said this week that they had a plan. The “plan” turned out to be starting DT Treyvon Hester (1 – 0 – 0 – 0) and rotating in, DT Bruce Hector (0 – 0.5 – 0 – 0). I chose to be kind here and wonder if both players couldn’t get penetration, because they just ran out of gas late in the game. Especially given that Hester doesn’t generally see much playing time, and Hector was basically called off his couch a few days ago. Hector’s re-signing was hardly a surprise given that he was here during preseason. NOT DONE
4) Maintain balance: “Not 35, 37, or 38.9999999. We need at least 40 percent.” Those are my exact words from Four Things. In this game of the 61 plays we ran, 37 were passes, 24 were runs. The run selection percentage? 39.3. Leading 17 – 14 with 7 minutes and change left in the game, is what your run game is for. That is not the time to throw short passes to the flat, near the sideline. This is is where getting cute HURTS. This is where you need to be able to FINISH. Instead, we let incompletions and poor choices allow time for the opponent to come back and cut our throats. NOT DONE
So this week’s score is a dismal 1 out of 4, bringing the yearly to 11 of 28. It’s an appalling score, but one befitting a 3 – 4 team that likes to give games away. Next week we travel across the pond to see if we can survive a reeling Jaguars team and claw back to .500.
On The Whole:
The more I write about this, the more stunned I become. You’d think the loss of the lead would have been the stunner, but nope. It’s all the ignored fundamentals that seem like they’re just dangling at the tips of our fingers. It’s almost like Head Coach Doug Pederson is waiting for the moment to turn it on.
For instance, why are we starting Wendell Smallwood? He has no big play ability and there isn’t a player, a coach, or a ball-boy who doesn’t know it. It’s a handicap that we’ve given ourselves.
Why are we bunching the WR’s up on the ends of the line, instead of spreading out the formation? This is hurting the run game, as it keeps more defenders around to clog up lanes. (And no, this can’t be used to exonerate Smallwood, since even when he does pop free, he’s easy to run down.)
Why are we leaving the outside arm of the DE’s uncovered so much? It makes it hard to set the edge on Sweeps, Jet-Sweeps, Tosses, and Pitches. It also means the QB doesn’t have to take a second look, before throwing a Screen.
Why doesn’t Doug TELL Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz, to blitz a little more often? We’ve gotten to a point where we get pressure, but it doesn’t cause turnovers. If anything it makes opposing QB’s look like old-school heroes. Week in and week out they seem content to stand in the pocket and trade a small hit for a big completion.
We’re 3 – 4 on a season where we should be 5 – 2. (The losses to Tampa and Minny were legit losses.) The more I think about this loss, the more stunned I become. By next Sunday, I may be catatonic. Pray for me.