Eagles news and notes for 12/11
On the eighth page of the 14-page comprehensive box score of the Eagles' 27-22 loss to the Redskins on Sunday, in italic font one-third of the way down, appeared perhaps the most profound euphemism in NFL history.
PENALTY on WAS-D. Everett, Interference with Opportunity to Catch, 15 yards, enforced at PHI 25.
Well, that's one way to describe what happened to the Eagles' Darren Sproles when he tried to catch a punt with 11 minutes, 27 seconds left in regulation. Another way would be to say that the Redskins' Deshazor Everett arrived a tad early to tackle Sproles and did not appear inclined either to alter his path to Sproles or to decelerate as he completed his journey. Yet a third way would be to say that Everett damn near decapitated Sproles, that he delivered a gratuitous helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless player, that the 15-yard penalty he was assessed seemed even in the moment to be far too lenient, and that the league - if it wants to maintain any credibility in its ostensible attempts to deter head injuries - ought to suspend Everett for at least a game. At least.
"Horrible," one Eagles tight end, Trey Burton, said. "Really bad. One of the worst I've ever seen."
"I thought it was BS," another Eagles tight end, Zach Ertz, said. "Darren didn't have the ball, and the guy tried to take his head off."
A third Eagles tight end, Brent Celek, had been the victim of a previous personal foul by Everett, a blindside block on an Eagles punt early in the fourth quarter. But that shot was a soft wet kiss compared to what Everett did to Sproles. After remaining prone on the ground for several minutes, Sproles left the game and didn't return, presumably entering the league's concussion protocol, and it was a wonder just to see him walk to the sideline.
1. The Eagles didn’t lose due to a lack of effort
The Eagles’ effort was fairly drawn into question last week as Philadelphia got down 29-0 to a 3-7-1 Bengals team during a must-win game. The Eagles may not have won this week, but their failure can’t be attributed to a lack of effort.
The Eagles showing fight is a good sign for Doug Pederson. Last week, there was concern that the players stopped playing hard for their coach. This week, the Eagles made it clear they wanted to win. They were right in this game until the end. Philadelphia edged out Washington in total first downs, passing first downs, third down efficiency, total net yards, total offensive plays, net yards passing, and time of possession.
Moral victories won’t placate the fans. A loss is ultimately a loss. With that said, this game had the potential to be a lot uglier than it ended up being for the Birds.
The Eagles losing due to a lack of effort is unacceptable. The Eagles losing due to a lack of talent is an unfortunate reality.
Coming off an abysmal outing in the Eagles' blowout loss to Cincinnati, Wentz came out firing: a third-down strike on a crossing route while on the run, a bootleg scramble for a first down, a beautiful deep ball to Nelson Agholor that resulted in a 44-yard defensive-pass interference penalty, another third-down conversion to Mattehws. All of this on the Eagles' first two drives.
"He shows me something every week," Jenkins said. "He's out there doing whatever he can to make plays, whether he's extending the play with his feet, whether he's diving, stepping out of sacks left and right. He's a competitor, man. He's been doing whatever he can within his ability to give us a chance to succeed. Today was no different."
You watch Wentz in games like this and you can't help but think that one day he'll look back and marvel at how easy the game seems. Dak Prescott might be winning the first-year battle, but the Eagles sure look like they're going to win the 10-year war: We might not know how Prescott would look if forced to play quarterback in a maelstrom like the one that engulfed Wentz against the Redskins, but it isn't too hard to project what Wentz would look like behind the Cowboys' offensive line. Give this guy time to drop five steps, give him a receiver who can go deep and keep his feet in bounds, give some semblance of a first-down running game, then see how that arm and those legs play.
"He came out and proved today why we drafted him," Pederson said.
The end has yet to be written. But the story is well under way.
"Anytime you play in the NFL, you always want to win, regardless of who you're playing for, who you're playing against," Jackson said. "That's our job, to work hard throughout the week, and this is the fun part, coming out here on Sundays, or Thursdays or Mondays and trying to win a football game.
"The outcome of the game definitely was important. If we even want to think about playoffs or talk about playoffs, we had to win this game first."
Still, while Jackson is focused on doing what he can, he couldn't help but notice a stark contrast of the Eagles' home crowd in 2016 compared to the past two seasons.
Maybe that's because this time, unlike his previous two trips to the Linc, the Eagles haven't been competitive and the crowd wasn't as fired up. Or perhaps it's the fans' desire for a star receiver in Philadelphia, or more talent at the position in general, an area Jackson could help as an impending free agent in 2017.
Whatever the case, Jackson was pleased.
"Who wants to get booed," Jackson asked. "Especially all you've done and you started your career somewhere. You definitely don't want to get booed, but it's always great to get support no matter who it's coming from."
As for the possibility of returning to the Eagles in the offseason, Jackson has been asked frequently throughout the year, even by an inquisitive security guard before kickoff on Sunday. This time, in the midst of a playoff race, he could only laugh — although he didn't dismiss it.
"You never know," Jackson said.
It was a blood-and-guts game and the Eagles left a lot of blood and played with a lot of guts at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
But it was still a loss.
“It feels lousy now,” said Burton, who had seven receptions for 65 yards and a long snap that Donnie Joneswent up the ladder and held to allow Caleb Sturgis to wobble through a 41-yard field goal that gave the Eagles a 22-21 lead with 4:59 remaining in the game. “I don’t know about the future. I’m not really thinking about that right now.”
After Washington took a 27-22 lead with 1:53 remaining thanks to a 25-yard Chris Thompson run that capped an eight-play, 77-yard drive, quarterback Carson Wentz used eight plays to move the football from the Philadelphia 25-yard line to the Washington 14-yard line. On the ninth play, with 21 seconds left on the clock and no timeouts remaining, noted Eagles-killer Ryan Kerrigan ripped past Tobin and blasted Wentz, forcing a fumble that Washington’s Trent Murphy recovered.
“I’m thinking touchdown right there,” said tight end Zach Ertz, who had a strong game with 10 receptions for 112 yards on 13 targets. “We were moving the ball. I felt we were going to finish off the game and score a touchdown and end it. I ran my route and I looked back and heard ‘ball.’ I don’t know what happened. I just knew that the game was over.”
When this whole thing turns around and the Eagles are more mature and have more pieces in place, they will win games like this.