Penalties continue to be a problem. The Eagles came in as the third-most penalized team in the NFL (90) and added to that total with 10 infractions for 88 yards. Part of that might be related to talent, but lack of discipline reflects largely on the coaching staff.
With four games remaining, attention turns to the man at the top. The Eagles (5-7) have dropped seven of nine and are in jeopardy of going into full free-fall mode. First year or not, Pederson needs to show that he has control of this team.
During the week, Pederson said he is confident the Eagles are heading in the right direction because they continue to give effort. On Sunday, that effort was brought into question. If nothing else, he has to get this group to live up to that rather low standard.
In the locker room, though, Philly's players didn't question effort or schemes or say the Bengals caught them off guard.
"They didn't do anything we weren't expecting," cornerback Leodis McKelvin said.
Rather, several Eagles and coach Doug Pederson pointed to similar factors to explain the Birds' seventh loss in nine games: Untimely missteps and a lack of consistent execution. But of all the players who spoke, none said Philadelphia needs to make fundamental fixes.
"There's nothing really to change," said quarterback Carson Wentz, who threw a career-high three picks Sunday. "We've just got to lock in, and we've got to be more disciplined."
Such stubbornness has two interpretations for a team that's let a promising season slip out of its grasp. Either the Eagles have a deep belief in their roster and staff or they're just unsure how to answer for immense struggles that have derailed their campaign.
It’s also worth noting that there were several moments when Wentz reminded everybody why the Eagles had sacrificed what they did to draft him. His scrambling ability helped the Eagles pick up a couple of first downs in long situations. On several throws, he showed the easy arm strength that enables him to put balls into windows that simply are not available to most quarterbacks (one example was a pass to Trey Burton early in the fourth quarter; the play was ultimately ruled incomplete, but the throw itself was quite pretty, going from Wentz’s hand to the sideline 15 yards down the field in a blink).
More than anything, Sunday’s loss to the Bengals was a reminder that Wentz is nowhere near a finished product, and that the Eagles cannot dawdle in their attempt to surround him with the kind of talent he will need to give him the best chance to make the sorts of strides that he’ll need to make to establish himself as a legitimate, top-tier NFL quarterback.
"Last couple of weeks have been frustrating," cornerback Nolan Carroll said. "To not get off on third downs - it's something we've done well, and the past couple of weeks, we haven't been able to get it done. It [stinks], and we can be mad at ourselves for it. We get them in these third-and-long situations, but it's something or another and they convert it."
The Bengals had conversions of 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, and 5 yards on Sunday. Those would seem to be good opportunities for the pass rush to pressure Dalton, but he was not sacked and was hit only once.
This has been an ongoing problem for the Eagles defense. They didn't have any sacks last week, either, and they have only six sacks in their last six games.
"It's definitely not a problem," insisted defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who hasn't recorded a sack since Oct. 9. "Obviously, we aren't getting to the quarterback the way we should. When teams have success dinking and dunking us, and they see previous teams dinking and dunking, it's a copycat league. Teams are going to do that. They're going to get rid of the ball quick. And when they get ready to go deep, they have seven-man protect. And we're rushing with four, so you do the math."
Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Bengals game - Philly Voice
The 'Andy' Award: Doug Pederson
Carson Wentz threw 60 times today, while the Eagles ran the ball just 19 times. That, of course, is a pass:run ratio of about 3:1. Last week, Wentz threw 36 times and the Eagles ran it 18 times, for a 2:1 ratio.
Wentz is on pace to attempt 522 passes this season, which would be seventh-most for a rookie in NFL history.