EAGLES 21 – Commanders 32
Categories include an EXCLUSIVE weekly Offensive Line Report (Rushing TD’s (6 points) + 3rd downs converted by handoffs (1 point) + sacks allowed (-2 points) = score); as well as Drive Killer (Int – FR – 4th down Tackles – FF – TD).
New Category Ace is for Kick return TD’s, Returners run-down, kicks blocked, etc.
Passing : (S) QB Jalen Hurts (17/26 – 65.3% – 175 – 2 – 1)
Rushing : (S) RB Miles Sanders (12 – 54 – 4.5 – 0 – 0)
Receiving : (B) WR Quez Watkins (4 – 4 – 80 – 20.0 – 0)
Offensive Line Report/Enforcer : (6 + 1 – 2 = 5) C Jason Kelce
Drive Killer : (S) DE Josh Sweat (0 – 0 – 0 – 1 – 0)
Sack Leader : (S) DE Josh Sweat (2 – 1.0 – 0 – 1)
Ace : N/A
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for these Four Things articles. It’s to point out what we need to address BEFORE the game. Then AFTER the game, there’s a no-bullshit assessment of whether or not the Eagles did any of what they needed to do, to ensure the win.
So how much of what I mentioned in Four Things: COMMANDERS did the Eagles actually get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Set hard edges: Can’t really complain about this one, though. Washington didn’t do a great job of running the ball (44 – 142 – 3.2 – 1 – 0), but they did commit to it. So it was enough to do two very important things A) Keep the ball out of our Offense’s hands; and B) Tire out our Defensive Front seven.
We wanted Washington to run inside, and Washington wanted to run inside. So in a weird sense, both teams got what they wanted. At least on first and second downs. There were many third downs that were marked as 3rd and 1, that were more like 3rd and a foot, foot and a half. Unfortunately, even though these runs happened where we wanted, those were easy to convert, and kept our Defense on the field. Still we kept most runs bottled, and no one broke anything crazy. (DONE)
2) Invert the Pocket: Nawp! Their QB not only made a habit of getting the ball out quickly, but we didn’t push the pocket in the middle much. That’s a little harder to do, when a defensive lineman is gassed from eating double helpings of run blocking.
Of course, our pass rush wasn’t helped at all, by all the off-coverage that was called in this game. For half the game, I had trouble figuring out who Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon wanted to win the game. There was more heat in the second half, but by then Washington had a full head of confidence. (NOT DONE)
3) Run the Ball More: In our victory, there were 21 hand-offs, so in this one, the order was for MORE of that. Instead, in this game there were just 14 hand-offs, with all of 2 (to two different RB’s), in the first half. (NOT DONE)
4) Devonta De Decoy: I said that if Washington doesn’t shade to whichever side WR Devonta Smith (8 – 6 – 39 – 6.5 – 1) is on, then the Eagles should do what we did in the first game and, let Smith put on a clinic. And we did just that!
Sadly, with us not running the ball, Smith didn’t have as much room to operate and ended the night averaging under seven yards per catch. It also created no room to roam for the other receivers. So this was clearly done, but the spirit of it was corrupted by a lack of commitment to core football. (DONE)
Despite doing 2 of the Four Things, we lost still lost the game. Next week do battle with the NFL’s strangest situation, as we travel to Indianapolis to take on the 4 – 5 – 1 Colts.
On The Whole:
This game was a well-deserved loss. The Eagles did everything they could to lose this game, and the more I think about it, the more grateful I am for the loss. To non-Eagles fans that will come across like bullshit. Fuck ‘em. As an Eagles fan, keep reading and you will soon get where I’m coming from. (And you’ll likely agree.)
Right now, it’s 3:33a.m. I’ve changed the cat litter, grabbed a shower, and put dinner in the crock-pot. My point is, before I started writing, I had some time to think, instead of just writing in the moment. So much of that game didn’t sit right with me, and eventually I figured out what it was. It felt like Chip Kelly was coaching.
Remember scoring quickly and leaving the Defense out there, unable to get off the field? Remember having our Defense grow more and more tired as the game went on? Then there was Gannon doing his Bill Davis impersonation. Big time talent at CB, playing on huge cushions, making sure that we couldn’t get pass rush. Remember two seasons of 10 – 6, that led to zero playoff wins?
I would rather lose this game, and have Head Coach Nick Sirianni learn that he can’t get away with Kelly-ing, then to have him (and the team), think that this is a viable formula. Take the loss now, so that we don’t try this shit in the playoffs. Take it now, so that we don’t take it against a Colts team, coached by a guy with a 20 – 16 high school coaching record.
Look, we got away with sleepwalking against the Texans last week, which is probably why we came out so flat this week. We got away with it last week. Taking this loss to an inferior Washington team is embarrassing, but not humiliating. It’s a decent wake-up call, but it won’t wreck anyone’s confidence. It’s just a hard slap in the face.
Better still, teams are going to look at this as the blueprint for how to beat us. Heavy run, control the clock, get turnovers from each of our top four receivers. There are no subtleties about that formula. Nothing is nebulous. Everything is broad. So it gives the Eagles things to work on both as a Defense, and as an Offense.
It gives us some specific things to focus on, which could go a long way to fixing the problems we’ve been having all season long. Things like not playing well for four quarters. Taking our foot off the gas. This loss could make us stronger than we truly were, when we were undefeated. So I’m grateful that it came exactly where it did.
There are no moral victories here. This isn’t about silver linings. In fact, if we don’t put in the work, there’s no reason for optimism. However after this, if this team puts in the work, our best football will be here shortly.