The Philadelphia Eagles are now 1-1 in the 2017 NFL regular season after being defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs by a final score of 27 to 20 (recap here). The Eagles hung in tough but couldn’t get the job done. Here’s a look at 11 things we learned.
1 - IT’S NOT TIME TO PANIC
Take a deep breath. Relax. It’s going to be OK.
This wasn’t an awful loss for the Eagles. Obviously everyone here wants to see the Birds win every game, but this was not a bad one to lose.
The Chiefs had every reason to win this game. They’re one of the best teams in the league, as evidenced by their beatdown of the Patriots on the road in Week 1. Since that game was on a Thursday, Kansas City had extra rest heading into this matchup. Andy Reid typically fares well when he has extra time to prepare. And then there’s the home field advantage factor. Arrowhead Stadium is a very loud; it’s a difficult place to play.
Despite all this, the Eagles hung in tough. They didn’t give up. They took it down to the final play.
You might not be one for moral victories. I don’t blame you. But this isn’t revisionist history from me. Prior to this game, I wrote about how I didn’t think the outcome of this matchup mattered a ton.
Here’s the reality: the Eagles can easily be 2-1 and 2-0 in the division/conference by beating the Giants in Philadelphia next week. The Eagles are 4-0 in their last home games against the G-Men. Win next week and the Birds are right back on track.
2 - The Eagles’ run game is gonna suck all year long
The issue isn’t that the Eagles didn’t run the ball enough. The issue is that the Eagles don’t have good running backs. Blame Howie Roseman here, not Doug Pederson. Overall, I thought the positives with Pederson outweighed the negatives in this game.
Based on my Twitter mentions, I realize a lot of people don’t feel the same as me. I just don’t see how you can think this running back group isn’t a bottom five unit in the NFL in terms of talent. You could make a case they’re the worst.
This doesn’t come as a surprise. I was saying all offseason that the Eagles need to address this position. But they didn’t do much to fix the issue and what they did do — trading up for Donnel Pumphrey and signing LeGarrette Blount — clearly isn’t working out.
And so the Eagles are stuck with a group of 2017 running backs that compares to the Eagles’ league-worst group of receivers in 2016.
The running backs are not the only issue with the run game. The blocking could be better, absolutely. But the RB talent just isn’t there. It’s not going to be there all season. It sucks.
The lack of a run game is going to force the Eagles to have Carson Wentz carry the team with his arm. That’s what Philadelphia drafted him for, but it’d be nice to give him some help here and there. Wentz is currently on pace to throw 680 times this season. For reference, Drew Brees led the NFL in pass attempts last season with 673.
3 - Isaac Seumalo should probably be benched
In Week 1, Seumalo was highlighted by Pro Football Focus as one of the Eagles’ worst players. The second-year starting left guard had another rough go on Sunday. Seumalo gave up four sacks and didn’t look great in the run game, either. Neither did starting center Jason Kelce.
The Eagles might need to consider starting Stefen Wisniewski at left guard. The team gave him a contract extension this offseason. Wiz seemed to do OK at guard last year. Chance Warmack is also an option, but eh, he didn’t look good in the preseason.
It’s worth noting that the Allen Barbre trade isn’t looking so hot for Philly right now. Barbre played well last year. The Eagles gave him away for a mere conditional seventh-round pick and now Seumalo is struggling to replace him.
4 - Carson Wentz is good but still has some things to work on
Wentz’s stats against the Chiefs: 25/46 (54.3%), 333 yards (7.2 average), 2 TD, 1 INT, 83.0 passer rating. Wentz was also sacked six times.
I can confidently say that Wentz isn’t bad. It’s just a question of “How good is he?” Overall, I thought this was a good — not perfect — day for him. Wentz really stepped up on a number of third down plays in order to move the chains. He scrambled around and extended some plays like he usually does. Wentz actually led Philadelphia in rushing today with 55 yards on four attempts.
There are some issues to clean up. Wentz is still showing some accuracy issues. The fact that he has so many passes tipped as the line of scrimmage despite being 6-5 is concerning and will continue to lead to picks.
I still feel pretty good about Carson, though. He looks like a legitimate franchise QB. This was a tough spot and he didn’t look overwhelmed by the moment. He was keeping the team in the game with his arm and his legs. There was a lot of pressure on him to perform given that he didn’t have a lot of help in the run game.
That’s probably going to be the case for most (if not all) of the season.
5 - The Eagles’ pass rush is so legit
Remember this article: “Why the Eagles pass rush can live up to the hype”? Between calling this and that the Eagles’ running game would be bad, why would you read any other website?
Ha, just teasing. But for real! That Eagles pass rush is so good. Their eight sacks through two games is the most they’ve had since 2011. Philadelphia’s defense led the NFL in sacks that year with 50.
Players who logged sacks today: Fletcher Cox (1), Chris Long (1), Mychal Kendricks (1), Brandon Graham (0.5), Tim Jernigan (0.5).
The Eagles’ pass rush was a huge reason that Philadelphia’s secondary didn’t get exposed more than it reasonably could have. There’s no question the d-line is the true strength of the team.
One bad note on the defensive line is Vinny Curry’s missed sack in the fourth quarter which proved to be absolutely killer. Instead of holding the Chiefs to a field goal, Curry’s mistake allowed the Chiefs to score a touchdown. It felt like the game was mostly over from there. Huge momentum play.
In fairness to Curry, I thought he looked good in run defense. But that missed opportunity was awfully costly.
6 - Torrey Smith’s drops proved costly
Speaking of costly ... Torrey Smith! Yikes. Smith’s stat line doesn’t look so bad: four receptions for 66 yards. But the two drops that Smith had were bad. The first one came in the end zone. It would have been seven points instead of three. The second one came on a play where Wentz eluded a free rusher and aired it out down the field. Smith couldn’t hold on and the Eagles ended up having to punt on that drive. Smith can do some good things. But there’s also a reason the 49ers cut him after he struggled in San Francisco.
7 - Mack Hollins is literally unstoppable
Need I say more? Hollins looks great. Three targets, three receptions for 32 yards. The Eagles should continue to feed this guy touches.
In other Eagles wide receiver news, Alshon Jeffery stepped up today. After having a somewhat quiet Week 1, Jeffery had seven receptions for 92 yards and a tuddy against Kansas City. How do you feel about your performance, Alshon?
"They won the game. None of that shit matters." -- Alshon Jeffery on his 7-catch, 92-yard, 1-TD performance. #Eagles— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroCSN) September 17, 2017
Pretty quiet game for Nelson Agholor. His sole catch was a nice toe-tapping touchdown in the back of the end zone during garbage time. His catch almost wasn’t garbage time, however, due to the onside recovery.
8 - Zach Ertz looks good
For the second game in a row, Ertz finished as Philadelphia’s leading receiver. He had five receptions for 97 yards against KC. Through two games, he has 15 receptions for 190 yards (12.7 average). I told you guys this was his year! So did our good friend Brendan Ekstrom of Circa Survive.
Ertz is proving to be a nice, reliable weapon for Wentz. He’s a great go-to option on third down. That catch on the tipped ball by Terrance Mitchell before the end of the first half was really clutch and should have given the Eagles three points they didn’t really deserve if not for a missed field goal.
Here are some impressive Ertz stats for you to check out.
Zach Ertz is the ninth fastest player to ever reach 3000+ yards. He now has 3,030 in 63 career games. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 17, 2017
To be clear: Ertz is the 9th fastest player at his position (TE) to ever reach 3000+ yards. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 17, 2017
The eight players who reached 3000+ faster than Ertz: Kellen Winslow Sr and Jr, J.Graham, A. Gates, M.Bavaro, B.Tucker, J.Shockey, Gronk.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 17, 2017
Ertz has recorded 90+ receiving yards in 3 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 17, 2017
9 - Mychal Kendricks’ preseason was not a mirage
I’ve gotta take the L on this one. I thought the Eagles should trade Kendricks for a fifth-round pick. I was wrong. Kendricks has picked up right where he left off in the preseason. Kendricks finished this game with four tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, one pass breakup, and one quarterback hit. He’s really stepped it up. Kudos to MK. Also kudos to Schwartz for doing a better job of utilizing him.
10 - The secondary is playing better than expected
I’ve gotta say, I expected this game to be a lot uglier than it could have been for this Eagles secondary. The Eagles were without starting cornerback Ronald Darby, top backup cornerback Jaylen Watkins, and starting safety Rodney McLeod. Despite this, they didn’t let KC go wild on them.
There were obvious mistakes. Corey Graham totally whiffed on a tackle attempt which allowed Kareem Hunt to score a long touchdown. Jalen Mills gave up a long completion to Albert Wilson. But again, things could have been a lot worse. Tyreek Hill only had four receptions for 43 yards. The Eagles’ defense broke his ridiculous streak of five consecutive games with 60-plus yard touchdown scores. Chris Conley led all KC wide receivers with a mere 55 yards.
Rasul Douglas certainly deserves some credit. The rookie corner was forced into action today after being a healthy scratch in Week 1. He came up with a big pass breakup on a third down that forced KC to punt.
Now, the secondary isn’t having success on their own. The Eagles’ pass rush is really helping them out a lot. So is the fact that Alex Smith isn’t really a guy who takes a ton of deep shots. Still, gotta give credit where it’s due.
11 - Jake Elliott hasn’t locked up the kicker job just yet
The Eagles are stuck with Elliott for the next two games since they signed him off the Bengals’ practice squad. Philly can cut him before that if they want, but his roster spot would still count for the next two weeks.
Elliott did a good job of making his longest field goal of the day: a kick from 40 yards out. But his miss from 30 yards before halftime was really deflating. The Eagles had just gotten a lucky break with the tipped catch caught by Ertz. They couldn’t capitalize. I’d say Caleb Sturgis’ job is still safe (once he gets healthy) for now.
BONUS: The Cowboys defense isn’t so great after all
Lol at everyone who said the Cowboys’ defense was good because they shut down a crappy Giants offense in Week 1. Dallas got boatraced by Trevor Siemian and the Broncos’ offense on Sunday.
It’s obviously early, but the Eagles look like the best team in the NFC East right now.