The Eagles fell to the Bengals 32-14. Let’s take a look at the talking points from the game.
1 Doug Pederson needs to run more
Carson Wentz attempted 60 passes against the Bengals. That’s the second most in a game by a rookie to Chris Weinke’s 63 in 2001. Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr and Jameis Winston all threw 50+ in their rookie years, and Luck and Carr did it multiple times, so the workload isn’t going to doom Wentz. But 60 passes by any QB is way too much. It’s only happened 18 times in the past ten seasons prior to Sunday. Ryan Mathews being out and a patchwork offensive line is going to contribute to the running game struggling, but abandoning it isn’t helping anyone. The Bengals have a mediocre run defense but are one of the best intercepting teams in the league. On the road, a run heavy offense to start the game was pretty much required, but it wasn’t there and hasn’t been there for weeks. The Eagles ran eleven plays in their first two possessions, seven were passes.
2 Paul Turner might be something
Turner was a preseason star, leading the league in receptions. And then no one wanted him on their 53 man roster to start the season as he passed through waivers. (The Chargers were interested in picking him up later in the year.) And in his debut Turner wasn’t even thrown at.
But against the Bengals he had a really nice 41 yard catch and run, a good shot in the arm to a lifeless group of WRs, and followed it up with 5 more catches, though for just 39 yards. Four of his catches gained a first down for one of the worst 3rd down offenses in the league. There’s a place on a roster for a low yards per catch receiver who can consistently move the chains, Turner has four more games to show he can fill that role.
3 Air balls are back
In training camp, a recurring flaw of Carson Wentz was that if missed a receiver, he was sailing the pass over his head. It was a fixable flaw, and when the season started, he had it under control. But the last few games, it’s come back. We know it can be corrected and we’ve seen it be corrected, so it’s not time to push the panic button. But it’s definitely an area of concern.
4 Pass rushers needed
Vinny Curry has 1.5 sacks, which is as many as Marcus Smith. Connor Barwin has 4. There are a lot of needs for the Eagles this offseason, and a pass rusher opposite Brandon Graham is unexpectedly one of them. Fletcher Cox is commanding a heavy dose of double teams, so the opportunities are there.
Bengals OT Jake Fisher was asked: "How different are Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham to play against?" Fisher: "Graham's a great player."— Josh Paunil (@JoshPaunil) December 5, 2016
5 The refs don’t hate the Eagles!
It wound up not mattering, but it was nice for the Eagles to be on the positive end of a bad call by the refs when they didn’t flag Nigel Bradham for pass interference in the red zone. The Eagles have gotten some awful calls against them, getting one back was a minor victory.
6 The playoff dream is dead
It was a long shot entering the Seahawks game and got further and further out of reach, but now it’s all but certain: after a 3-0 start, the Eagles aren’t making the playoffs. We didn’t expect them to when the season started, so taking the long view, the Eagles are who we thought they were, and that’s okay.
7 Mr. December is back
Zach Ertz caught his 11th career touchdown on Sunday. It was his 7th career touchdown in December. It’s that time of the year for the Eagles tight end, who averages 5 catches a game in December, and 3 catches a game the rest of the year.
8 Penalties are still a problem
The Eagles are the second most penalized team in the league, on Sunday they were flagged 10 times, including four false starts. Entering the game, only the Redskins had more false starts. Perhaps Carson Wentz needs to alter his cadence.
9 Everyone is frustrated
Think you’re frustrated with this season? So are the Eagles. Doug Pederson says Wentz’s overthrows are the fault of his mechanics. Wentz says it isn’t. Get on the same page guys. Fletcher Cox complained that it’s hard to get much of a pass rush when a defense is always dropping seven.
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.
The Bengals weren’t dinking and dunking, the Eagles just weren’t getting there. For now, we’ll chalk this up to the frustration of a three game losing streak. We’re all pissed.
It could be worse....
10 What a difference a year makes
Week 13 of 2015 was a great game and a turning point for all the wrong reasons. It was the game where the Eagles got a blocked punt return, an interception return and a punt return for touchdowns to beat the Patriots 35-28. It was a fun game, and then we learned that the team was fired up due to Jeffrey Lurie reminding them of who the boss is, and then DeMarco Murray thought it would be a good idea to complain to him on the plane ride home. It was the beginning of the final chapter for Chip Kelly.
Andy Reid and Doug Pederson/Donovan McNabb were 3-10 at this point of the 1999 season.
Yeah, the Eagles stink right now and it’s not fun. We’ve seen worse.