RELAX, everybody! Relax! Yes. This should have been a win, but there’s a lot of good to be mined out of this loss. I stated in the opening paragraph of Four Things that “This is the “look in the mirror” game that you need in Week 3 or 4.” Prior to the game, our QB said that the team is still trying to find it’s identity.
We needed this game. Not in terms of the win, but in terms of being knocked on our ass. Easy wins feed the win column, but gritty losses can build a champion. Just think back to how we lost to the Chiefs in Week 3, last year. You can’t respond to adversity until you face some. I
On a positive note (and there were some positives), the Eagles WR situation is now a building block instead of a stumbling block, or a weakness to hide. WR Alshon Jeffrey (8 – 105 – 13.1 – 1) played in his first game of the season and looked every bit the #1 option we need him to be. Returning Eagle WR Jordan Matthews (1 – 56 – 56.0 – 1) chipped in by hanging six, on Bill Belichik’s favorite CB. The problem was the 2015 version of WR Nelson Agholor (5 – 22 – 4.4 – 0 ). He seemed to drop as many passes as he caught. QB Carson Wentz (33/50 – 66.0% – 348 – 2 – 0) was sacked four times, and it felt like he got hit every time he dropped back, despite heavy use of play-action. Then again, if you want to sell play-action, you need to run the ball more than 22 times (22 – 109 – 4.9 – 0 – 0). Play selection that looks like 50 passes to 22 rushes (69.4% pass) will get your play-action ignored and make your QB a sitting duck.
Our Defensive Line was amazing. As usual. Our LB’s were solid as well. We amassed 3 sacks and held the Titans to 70 yards on 22 carries (3.1ypc). What blew chunks out the ass, was the Secondary. Again. Especially CB Jalen Mills (3 – 0 – 0 – 0):
FS Corey Graham (9 – 0 – 0 – 0) starting his first game in place of the injured Rod McLeod, seemed out of position on a few plays. Too many pass attempts seemed to be deeper than he was. (Not a good look!)
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) Rattle the cage: We needed to hit QB Marcus Mariota (30/43 – 69.7% – 344 – 2 – 1/ 10 – 46 – 4.6 – 1 – 0), early, often and hard. We didn’t. Instead, we allowed him to get comfy and complete just about 70% of his passes. Then again, that’s what happens when our Secondary is committed to playing a bad scheme. NOT DONE
2) More power running: I wanted ten to twelve runs up the gut and we had eleven, out of twenty-two rushes, got up the middle. This might have produced the desired effect, had our own play selection (50 passes, 22 rushes) not undercut the credibility of our play-action. Still, we did get it done. DONE
3) Start fast: We allowed the Titans to score on us on their opening drive, and didn’t score a single point until the second quarter. NOT DONE
4) Play our game: Wentz said that this team is still looking to find it’s identity, and that he was looking to see who’d step up. Well it would seem that we’ll be waiting yet another week for that answer. NOT DONE
This week we limped away with a 1 of 4 score, and even that was more of a technicality. For the year we sit at 6 of 16. Hopefully we get some of this cleaned up before our match-up against a Vikings team that will be using us as a measuring stick, next week.
On The Whole:
The knee jerk reaction is to be pissed over this loss. Every mistake in it gets magnified, and every great moment, grows an instant layer of dust. This would be an over-reaction. The idea of a measuring stick game, is that it tells a team what they need to sharpen, and what they can build on. There can be no excusing or getting around problems that so obviously presented themselves. Now the coaching staff can get down to the business of making the necessary improvements. (Pass defense, defensive scheme adjustment, securing catches…)