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10 Things We Learned in the Eagles loss to the Cowboys

Pointing blame where it’s due, and credit where it is

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

1 The Eagles offense is a one man army

On Saturday afternoon I had the Sixers-Hawks game on when my wife came home and asked me why I was watching basketball, a sport I normally care very little about. “I’m not watching basketball” I replied, “I’m watching Joel Embiid.” With Embiid on the court, the Sixers are competitive and entertaining. Without him, they’re unwatchable and I flipped back to college football.

The Eagles offense is in a similar boat. Outside of watching Carson Wentz pull plays out of his ass and some nifty running by Darren Sproles, it’s unwatchably bad because there is absolutely no help for Wentz. His receivers get no separation down field, his tight ends are unproductive, his starting running back barely played and no one complained. The replication of the start of the Andy Reid era means we have to take the good of a QB to build around and the bad of having crap for him to throw to to start his career.

2 Doug Pederson is still on the bye

The Eagles are 1-3 after their Week 4 bye, and each of the losses was a winnable game for different reasons. On Sunday night, Doug Pederson, and the lack of offensive talent, was the reason. The WR screens were ill timed and easily defended because Pederson has gone to them too much recently. Between Pederson, Frank Reich and John DeFilippo, the Eagles have three former offensive coordinators. They’ve got to come up with a better game plan.

3 There were actually a couple of positives

Pederson wasn’t completely flawed though. He rode the hot hand at running back, giving Darren Sproles 15 carries, his most since last year’s Patriots game and the third most of his career. And when the Eagles went no huddle, it gave the offense an advantage over a Cowboys defense that couldn’t adjust.

4 Carson Wentz is better than Dak Prescott

This was billed as a show down between the two rookie QBs, and so the aftermath will be billed as one being better than the other, based entirely on the outcome of the game. Which is bull. Dak Prescott was awful for almost the entire game, completing less than half his passes and was flustered when the Eagles pass rush got to him. His end zone interception to Jordan Hicks was simply horrible. As a runner Prescott was lethal, but as a passer he hamstrung the Cowboys, save for two good drives at the end. Wentz didn’t have his greatest game, but he was clearly the better QB for the whole game.

5 Ezekiel Elliott is really good

The Eagles stuffed Elliott at the line of scrimmage for most of the night but still had an overall good game, particularly effective as a receiver. And this was one of his less effective games. He’s going to be a nightmare. The one upside is that the Cowboys seem intent to run him into the ground, which will blunt his long term danger to the Eagles. But for now, he’s the best player on the Cowboys.

6 Zach Ertz is not good

The Eagles gave Ertz a 5 year, $42.5M contract extension, and he hasn’t remotely lived up to it. His 10.0 yards per reception is a career low, his three catches a game average is nearly a career low, and in five games he doesn’t have a TD catch. A good tight end can be a valuable resource for a rookie QB, and that’s what the Eagles paid for. They haven’t come close to getting that in return. Ertz can’t get himself open, can’t evade defenders, can’t break tackles, and has inconsistent hands.

7 Marcus Smith might be good decent

Good being a relative term, but Marcus Smith had himself a good game. He’s been an effective run defender this season, and on Sunday he had a nice sack of the Dak Prescott, who spent most of the game successfully evading the Eagles pass rush. He’s not starter worthy, but he’s showing he deserves some playing time.

8 Caleb Sturgis: actually good!

Admit it, when Sturgis’ first attempt from 55, which he nailed, was called off after a timeout by Jason Garrett (who once iced his own kicker), you thought he was going to miss the follow up. But he absolutely nailed that one too, going 3 for 3 from 50+ this season. The Eagles look like they’ve finally found their David Akers replacement.

9 Dave Fipp: also good!

Eagles special teams once again played their butts off. Josh Huff nearly broke one on a 53 yard kick return and the punt team trapped the Cowboys deep inside their own territory all game long.

Which only heightens the woes of the Eagles offense on Sunday night: they’re got a lot of help from their counterparts, the struggles are all on the offense.

10 This week is a must win

The Giants are coming off a bye, and they’ll be at home, which sounds a little familiar. Winner will be alone in 2nd place, loser in 4th. It’s likely the easiest game they’ll have for weeks. If there is a must win in early November, this is it.

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