The Philadelphia Eagles are now 3-4 on the 2015 NFL regular season schedule after being defeated by the Carolina Panthers by a final score of 27 to 16. Here are 10 things we learned from this game. There is a lot to discuss, so let's get right to it.
1) The Eagles can't f***ing catch a pass
At this point I'm becoming surprised when the Eagles make a clean catch. It's just ridiculous. Drops have infected this team like an incurable virus. Week after week the Eagles fail to execute such a fundamental aspect of the sport. It's not just one player, either. It's everyone. It's Jordan Matthews. It's Josh Huff. It's Miles Austin. It's Nelson Agholor. It's Riley Cooper. It's Zach Ertz. It's Darren Sproles. It's Ryan Mathews. It's DeMarco Murray. You name it, they drop it. Quite frankly, it's demoralizing.
2) It's time for more Ryan Mathews
DeMarco Murray ran for 65 yards on 18 carries. Ryan Mathews ran for 97 yards and one touchdown on six carries. It's no secret that Mathews looks like the more dangerous runner. Murray just looks slow, and especially when the Eagles get him running east-west for no good reason. Murray has value in this offense. The Eagles did a nice job of getting him running north-south at times and fighting through contact to pick up tough yards. That's his strength. But Mathews is the better overall weapon right now and it's time to feed him the ball more often.
3) The Panthers are good
The Eagles deserve a lot of criticism, for sure, but the Panthers also deserve credit. They're 6-0 for a reason. It's true that they haven't had the toughest schedule, yeah, but they are legitimately good. Their defense is certainly formidable. The Panthers' offense ran the ball a lot better than I expected against this usually-stout Philadelphia run defense. Cam Newton is actually a legitimate franchise quarterback, which is something the Eagles can't say they have. This loss is by no means a moral victory for the Eagles, but just try to keep it in perspective ... there are worse defeats than losing like the Eagles did on the road to an undefeated team.
4) Jordan Matthews is severely disappointing
Talk about a sophomore slump. After showing some real promise as a rookie and having a great offseason, Matthews hasn't done much to inspire confidence this season. He's already dropped 6 passes through seven games. To put that in perspective, Matthews only had five drops in 16 games last season. Drops have always been an issue for Matthews dating back to his college days and it certainly looks like he's not improving in that area.
5) Sam Bradford isn't the solution
Bradford's final stats: 26 completions on 46 attempts for 205 yards for a pathetic 4.5 yards per attempt, zero touchdowns, one interception, and a 58.7 rating. Drops obviously hurt Bradford, but that's still not good. Bradford is far from the Eagles' only problem on offense, but he's not the solution either.
6) Maybe the Eagles need DeMeco Ryans more than we thought
Philadelphia allowed an individual 100-yard rusher for the first time in 18 games against Carolina. I wonder how much the loss of Ryans hurt them. Ryans is typically a stout run defender so I wonder if his absence played into some of the defensive struggles.
7) Malcolm Jenkins deserves to go to the Pro Bowl
Here's a positive. Jenkins playing at a really high level. He had another big interception in this game right before the end of the first half. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they only managed to get three points off of it. Jenkins has been consistently good this season.
8) Discipline is an issue
The penalties really need to be cleaned up. What was especially concerning about some of the flags is that they were repeat mistakes. Lane Johnson had two false starts not too far apart. Bennie Logan somehow managed to commit encroachment on two consecutive plays. Not only are the Eagles making mistakes, but they're not learning from them. That's concerning.
9) Caleb Sturgis might be making some progress, but he's still frustrating
It was surprising to see Sturgis actually make a 52-yard attempt. That's an encouraging sign. Of course, Sturgis then proceeded to kick the ensuing kickoff out of bounds. He also missed a 50-yard attempt, but Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos took responsibility for that one. Sturgis is far from a great kicker but at least he's doing enough to prove he's worth keeping around.
10) The bye comes at a good time
The Eagles are a flawed team, and rest alone is not going to fix that. But it certainly can't hurt.