The Philadelphia Eagles are now 10-2 in the 2017 NFL regular season schedule after losing to the Seattle Seahawks by a final score of 24 to 10 (recap here). Frustrating loss. Here’s a look at everything we learned from this game.
1 - The Eagles’ season isn’t over
Look, I get it. This was a frustrating loss. A very, very frustrating loss.
But if you’re one of those saying this loss proves the Eagles aren’t any good, or that the season is over, or that Carson Wentz sucks, or that Doug Pederson is an idiot … get a grip. It’s one game. The team is still 10-2.
Now, if these struggles continue over an extended period of time, then we can absolutely start having those conversations. For now, this loss could just be a blip on the radar. Need I remind you that, before eventually going to the Super Bowl, the 2004 Eagles lost to the Steelers in Pittsburgh by a final score of 27 to 3?
I’m not saying everything is guaranteed to be fine. But I am saying the Eagles have done too much good this year to be erased by one regular season loss on the road in a very tough environment (the Seahawks are now 43-8 in their last 51 home games). Now’s not the time to press the panic button.
2 - The Eagles need to stop making so many mistakes
The mistakes are too damn high!
For real, though, there were just way too many mistakes in this game. Here’s merely a sampling.
Carson Wentz missing Nelson Agholor wide open in the first quarter
Alshon Jeffery's holding penalty to wipe out a LeGarrette Blount run to the 2-yard line
Doug Pederson mismanaging the end of the first half
Wentz fumbling at the 1-yard line
Kenjon Barner stumbling on 4th-and-3
No challenge on the lateral that was a forward pass
The Eagles really did beat themselves. That’s not meant to take away from the Seahawks. They’re a pretty good team. But the Eagles’ self-inflicted wounds made it that much harder to beat Seattle.
Philadelphia got away with sloppy mistakes against the Bears last week. They managed to beat Chicago anyway because the Bears are bad. The Eagles just aren’t going to have that same kind of margin for error against good teams.
This game really should have been closer than the final score indicated. It’s not like the Seahawks totally outclassed the Eagles. Look at the numbers:
Total plays: Eagles 74, Seahawks 58
Total yards: Eagles 415, Seahawks 310
Yards per play: Eagles 5.7, Seahawks 5.3
The problem is that the Eagles went 0-2 in the red zone while Seattle 3-3. The Eagles also committed two turnovers (one in garbage time) while the Seahawks had none.
The Eagles picked a bad game to make big mistakes.
3 - Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson shoulder a lot of blame for this loss
The quarterback and head coach are obvious candidates for blame after any loss. But this sentiment holds especially true for this loss. Wentz and Pederson simply weren’t on their A-game on Sunday night.
Wentz finished the game 29/45 (64.4%) for 348 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and an 86.2 passer rating.
Oh, and one game-changing fumble that wiped out a potential touchdown and instead set up the Seahawks to take a 17-3 lead. That was a brutal turnover by No. 11. Can’t lose the ball like that.
Overall, Wentz’s stats weren’t terrible. But what WAS terrible was Wentz’s accuracy at times.
I still can’t get over this miss to Nelson Agholor early in the game. Nelly is WIDE open. Wentz wasn’t even pressured. How does he not complete this pass? (Answer: very bad footwork).
Wentz continued drop -accuracy issues pic.twitter.com/R5wighUaCz— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) December 4, 2017
Wentz had a completion to Agholor later in the game where the receiver had to go to the ground to make the grab instead of being led into the reception and having a chance to gains yards after the catch.
Wentz’s penchant for sailing passes is a frustrating issue that keeps popping up. Whereas Donovan McNabb had an issue throwing balls into the dirt (wormburners), Wentz tends to go too high.
I’ve seen this issue in person during OTAs and training camp practices. We all saw it early in the season when he couldn’t connect on deep shots down the field. There was even a play last week in the Bears game where Zach Ertz was standing wide open in the middle of the field and Wentz threw it like five yards above his head. Luckily it sailed incomplete.
Sometimes Wentz really makes the routine look impossible. He also makes the impossible look routine.
Wentz’s throw to set it up was amazinghttps://t.co/bEOnrGMxiU— BGN Radio (@BGN_Radio) December 4, 2017
Wentz’s drive to get the Eagles back into the game from 17-3 to 17-10 was nothing short of remarkable. It was characteristic of the MVP candidate we’ve seen all season along.
It’s always important to remember that Wentz isn’t a finished product. He’s only in Year 2. A few errant passes shouldn’t take away from the special season he’s having. The mistakes do server as a reminder that he still has room to improve, though.
As Doug Pederson, I don’t think his play-calling was poor. Look at the yard stats I posted above. The Eagles were moving the ball. The bigger issue was Pederson’s decision-making in crucial situations.
Pederson’s call to punt on 4th-and-1 early in the game was so out of character. Where was the aggressiveness we’re used to seeing? Seemed like he was coaching scared. The Eagles have been so good at converting those situations.
Then there was the decision to not go for a conversion near the end of the second quarter. There’s 18 seconds left on the clock. Even if you don’t get the first and turn the ball over on downs, can’t you run a play that would at least kill some time? Would it really be that terrible for the Seahawks to be attempting a long field goal with the inconsistent Blair Walsh?
Pederson’s decision to not challenge Russell Wilson’s lateral, which was really a forward pass, was understandable in the sense he may not have fully known what happened on the play. He wasn’t the one who had a good angle on what happened. He had to rely on his broadcast booth person to tell him to challenge or not. The Seahawks made life tough on Pederson by rushing to the line so the Eagles head coach didn’t have much time to think about throwing his red flag. Still, that could be a point where Pederson should throw the flag regardless if he has full evidence. The reward outweighed the risk there. If Pederson gets the challenge wrong, he’s out of challenges and loses a timeout. Pederson used this explanation in defense of his decision not to challenge. That hurts, for sure, but the reward would have been a 5-yard penalty and a loss of down for Seattle. The Seahawks likely would’ve had to punt. What would you rather have: a possession or a timeout?
Again, one game alone doesn’t completely detract from the season Pederson is having. He’s done a great job this year. He just wasn’t at his best in a key game. Like Wentz, he has room for improvement.
4 - Philadelphia is no longer in control of their destiny for the No. 1 seed
Sunday was terrible for the Eagles. Literally nothing went right for them in Week 13. Ugh!
The Eagles no longer control their destiny to get the No. 1 seed. If they win out and the Vikings win out, Minnesota will be No. 1 due to the tie-breaking procedure. The Eagles really need the Vikings to drop a game down the stretch. Here’s a look at the remaining schedules for both teams.
VIKINGS LAST FOUR GAMES
EAGLES LAST FOUR GAMES
The Vikings-Panthers game might be the best hope at a Minnesota loss. The Vikings-Packers game could be interesting if Aaron Rodgers is able to return by then.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, the good news is the Eagles still control their destiny for a first-round bye. But with the Saints and Rams right behind them, there’s not a lot of room for error. The Eagles really need to keep winning in order to maintain good playoff seeding.
5 - The absence of Jason Peters is starting to show
Bad game by Halapoulivaati Vaitai. According to Pro Football Focus, Big V allowed two sacks, one quarterback hit, and seven hurries. He struggled while going up against Frank Clark.
As a unit, the Eagles offensive line played their worst game in pass protection this season.
#Eagles O line allowed 27 QB pressures (2 sacks, 6 QB hits, 19 hurries) vs. Seattle, according to @PFF That's 8 more pressures than any other O line had this weekend. The team's highest number allowed was 13 twice, back in Weeks 1 and 2.— Ed Kracz (@kracze) December 4, 2017
This isn’t terribly surprising considering the Seahawks have a good defensive line. Philly’s o-line is supposed to be the strength of their team, though. The Eagles needed more from the guys up front.
6 - Nelson Agholor was a bright spot
Let’s talk about something positive!
Last year’s Seattle game was the lowest point of Agholor’s career. He single-highhandedly took them out of that game with a touchdown-canceling procedural penalty and a terrible drop over the middle.
This year was a much different story. Agholor finished the game with seven receptions for 141 yards (20.1 average) and one touchdown. Pretty satisfying to see him beat Byron Maxwell in coverage.
Agholor’s been having a great season. He’s certainly looking like a long-term piece for this team. Who would’ve thought?
7 - I don’t know how the Seahawks don’t win the Super Bowl every year
Playing the Seahawks is really frustrating. Based on how they play against the Eagles, I don’t know how they don’t go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl every year.
Russell Wilson is damn near impossible to guard. It didn’t even matter that the Eagles’ defensive line had a big advantage over Seattle’s offensive line. Wilson is able to run around, avoid pressure, and then make big plays down the field.
The Eagles have Wentz now, so passing on Wilson three times in 2012 hurts less than it used to, but it still does hurt. The dude literally told the Eagles they’d win championships if he drafted him. Andy Reid/Howie Roseman tried to get too cute an missed out on him instead.
Seattle’s defense is also really annoying. The Seahawks’ Cover 3 scheme limits what their opponents can do. And even though they some key injuries, they still have a number of good players who can contribute.
Add in the fact that CenturyLink Field is a tough enviroment and you can see why the Seahawks have had so much success there. Just a really frustrating team to play against.
8 - Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett stood out in a good way
Another positive thing!
Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett are very good. They should combine to form one of the league’s best starting defensive end duos moving forward. Graham finished the game with five tackles (four solo), 2.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, and 1.5 sacks. Barnett bullrushed Duane Brown to force a Wilson incompletion early in the game. The rookie also finished with one tackle, 0.5 sacks, 0.5 tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits. Graham and Barnett will continue to terrorize quarterbacks this season. It’ll be easier for them against guys who don’t have Wilson’s uncanny mobility, too.
Honorable mention: Mychal Kendricks mostly seemed to have a good game as well. He made some key stops and led that team in total tackles with nine. He also got beat badly in coverage on that J.D. McKissic touchdown, though, so we also saw his biggest weakness on display.
9 - Not a great game for the Eagles’ secondary
For the most part, the Eagles’ secondary has played a lot better than expected this season. That wasn’t the case against Seattle. The Eagles had no answer for Wilson’s quick throws to move the chains on third downs. The defense was also leaving players wide open on some Wilson scrambles.
Here are some of the individual miscues that took place:
- Ronald Darby called for pass interference (tacky call, but didn’t have a strong game outside of that anyway)
- Malcolm Jenkins beaten by Jimmy Graham in the red zone for a touchdown (very tough play, but need to make those in a big game)
- Patrick Robinson flagged for defensive holding (also gave up a quick completion or two)
- Rodney McLeod had no chance on Doug Baldwin when Russell Wilson was blitzed (Jim Schwartz is open to criticism for the blitz call, but McLeod couldn’t even stay close with Baldwin at all)
- Jalen Mills whiffing big on a tackle attempt on the Seahawks’ first drive
Usually the Eagles’ secondary benefits from the defensive line being able to generate pressure. Wilson’s mobility negates the Eagles’ strength in that regard, though, which leaves Philly’s secondary vulnerable.
10 - The officiating sucked but it’s not why the Eagles lost
I intentionally saved this as the penultimate point because I want to stress that the refs should NOT be blamed for the Eagles losing to Seahawks.
With that said, I hope everyone can agree that the officiating sucked. Darby’s pass interference penalty was tacky. Kenjon Barner got hit after a fair catch and there was no flag. Torrey Smith was CLEARLY beyond the marker for a first down and the refs couldn’t even get it right after seeing a replay on the challenge. Beau Allen got mugged while trying to rush Wilson. Pederson wouldn’t have had to challenge Wilson’s “lateral” if the refs were better at their jobs. Frank Clark got a free shot on Wentz from behind after being offside when the refs should have whistled the play dead to protect the Eagles quarterback. Just not a banner day for the refs.
The Eagles’ slim of margin of error was decreased even more thanks to officiating issues.
11 - Time to bounce back with a big game next week
Another big game this week. There will be a lot of hype for this one. Carson Wentz vs. Jared Goff. Doug Pederson vs. Sean McVay.
Philadelphia could really use a bounce-back win over the Rams in order to maintain their playoff positioning.
As a reminder, the Eagles won’t be traveling back to Philly in order to prepare for this week’s game. Instead, they’ll be staying out on the West Coast to practice in L.A.
Getting a win over the Rams would have everyone feeling good about the Eagles again. Beating L.A. won’t be easy, but the feeling here is this is a winnable game for the Birds. 11-2 is within reach. The Eagles are still a good team, and it’s time for them to remind everyone of that next Sunday.