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Eagles news: Doug Pederson was right to go for it

News and notes for 12/19

Philadelphia Eagles v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Eagles go for it in a season already gone - Inquirer

Unfortunately for the Eagles, this is the way the flips have gone this season. Pederson got the all-out blitz he expected from the Ravens, Jordan Matthews got a step ahead of his defender on a quick slant over the middle, and Carson Wentz got the ball out before the rush could reach him. But all those things going right didn't help when the ball was tipped at the line and fluttered toward Matthews only to be knocked down.

"I wanted to win, whether it was desperation or not," Pederson said.

Desperation actually went out the window for the Eagles a couple of weeks ago. They are beyond clawing toward anything meaningful this season. Now they are playing to make the final record as respectable as possible. Six wins would be better than five and Pederson rightly thought that playing a longer game against the Ravens probably wasn't his best bet.

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Ravens game - Philly Voice

As noted above, the Eagles ran for 169 yards against the best run defense in the NFL, and a lot of the credit for that should go to the Eagles' offensive line. The Birds also only allowed one sack on 42 pass attempts. The Eagles' offensive line was down two starters as well as several reserves and was playing a rookie guard at RT against a guy with 98 career sacks. They more than held up.

His name isn't often brought up, but offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland has done a hell of job this season.

If Eagles are rebuilding, who is developing? - Inquirer

But the Eagles are still 5-9 and have lost five straight games, and who among their unknowns has established himself as indispensable? Who took a great leap forward this season? Who did the coaching staff develop? Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks was a playmaker as a rookie and has been solid again this season. Jordan Matthews is productive, smart, and a good teammate - all the things he was during his first two seasons here. Neither emerged as a dominant force at his position.

Nelson Agholor has offered little evidence that he can or will justify being a first-round pick. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, after his inauspicious debut against the Redskins, looked a bit better before suffering an MCL sprain. Isaac Seumalo held his own at right tackle Sunday and is a natural guard, but he has started three games, just three. Are those two surefire starters on an above-average offensive line?

Mills has loads of aggression and self-confidence, and he is forever undaunted in his post-incompletion finger wags, but can the Eagles pencil him in at one of their cornerback spots next season? Will Wendell Smallwood and Byron Marshall be the starting backfield? There was an Eagles running back who racked up 128 yards on 20 carries Sunday, but everyone already knew that Ryan Mathews, when healthy, runs hard and powerfully. The true revelation was that Marshall, in his first action of the season, used a nifty jump-cut to rip off runs of 12 yards and 10 yards on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter.

Eagles' comeback falls short in Baltimore: 3 big things we learned - Penn Live

The Eagles' defense struggled to get after quarterbacks during its midseason slide from playoff contender to NFC East bottomfeeder, but Sunday, the Birds disrupted Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco plenty.

Fletcher Cox, the $102 million defensive tackle, recorded a sack for a second straight game after a two-month stretch without one and busted into the backfield a few other times. Nigel Bradham forced Joe Flacco to fumble after darting toward on a blitz. And defensive linemen Brandon Graham and Beau Allen pulled Flacco down once in the first half.

Even so, the Eagles' defense had some lapses Sunday against a middling Ravens offense.

Why? Well, anytime the Birds didn't pressure Flacco, trouble enued. Baltimore's big-armed quarterback hit Steve Smith for a long touchdown down the right sideline in the first half, and running back Kenneth Dixon plowed into the end zone in the fourth quarter.

By then, it was clear the Eagles' defensive inconsistency and the shaky play of their secondary was too much to overcome.

The Eagles need their vaunted front four to make plays. If they don't, the lack of talent in the backend of their defense gets exposed.