1 - The Eagles stink
The Eagles’ 41-point loss to the Saints was the worst defeat suffered by a reigning Super Bowl champion team.
The Eagles now rank 20th in point differential, 22nd in offensive DVOA, 22nd in defensive DVOA, and 22nd in special teams DVOA.
All signs point to the Eagles being a below average team.
And outside of the Giants game in Week 6, they’ve been pretty miserable to watch all season long. They’re not fun or entertaining.
2 - Doug Pederson’s balls have shriveled
What the fuck happened to “Big Balls Doug”?
The guy calling plays on Sunday certainly did not resemble the Super Bowl winning head coach who wrote a book called “FEARLESS” this offseason.
The lack of aggression was apparent from the jump. Instead of going for it on 4th-and-1 from the Eagles’ own 24-yard line, Pederson opted to punt. After the game, Pederson defended his decision by talking about “flipping the field.” Well, the field wasn’t really flipped for too long there. The Saints took over at their own 23-yard line and Mark Ingram immediately broke off a 38-yard run to put New Orleans at the Eagles’ 39. That’s only 15 yards away from where the Eagles could’ve gone for it on fourth down.
Now, going for it on fourth down from your own 24-yard line isn’t a no-brainer decision in just any game. But this matchup clearly wasn’t just any game. The Saints entered this battle leading the league in points scored. The Eagles couldn’t just rely on their defense to get stops. They needed to be aggressive. Pederson failed to recognize this, which is concerning.
And it wasn’t just this early fourth down decision that showed cowardice on Pederson’s part. The lack of aggression showed up again when the Eagles decided to punt at 4th-and-4 from the Saints’ 49-yard line.
Very weak stuff from Doug.
More like “FEARFUL.”
3 - The Eagles’ offense is broken
We knew the Eagles’ defense was going to struggle against the Saints’ league-best offense. But there was some reason for optimism that the Eagles might be able to score on this team. New Orleans was allowing 25.8 points per game (25th) heading into Sunday’s matchup. Their defense ranked 27th in DVOA. Despite this, the Eagles managed to put up seven measly points.
Slow starts continue to be a problem. The Eagles have scored on just three of their 24 first quarter drives this season. Their 21 first quarter points rank last in the league. 21 first quarter points in 10 games, for those counting at home, comes out to a 2.1 average. That’s pathetic. Especially when you see all these other teams (such as the Saints, Chiefs, Rams, etc.) scoring at will in today’s offense-friendly NFL.
As the head coach and play-caller, Pederson obviously deserves a lot of blame for this unit’s struggles. The players also shoulder blame for failing to execute.
It’s apparent that the Eagles miss Frank Reich and John DeFilippo. We’ve discussed this numerous times already this season. But the reality is the team couldn’t really keep them. The Eagles couldn’t block Reich from getting a head coach job. The Eagles could’ve blocked Flip from leaving but they had already reneged on a promise to not block him from leaving during the 2017 offseason. Besides, the Eagles didn’t know they were going to lose Reich when Flip left since Josh McDaniels unexpectedly backed out of the Colts’ job.
The point here is that the Eagles couldn’t really control those guys from leaving. They could, however, control who replaced them. And I think it’s safe to say promoting internally may not have been the best decision.
If we’re going to say that losing Reich hurt the Eagles, which appears to be the case, then we’re acknowledging that the Eagles’ offensive coordinator has a significant impact on the offense despite the fact Pederson is the play-caller. With that in mind, Mike Groh should be on the hot seat.
Groh’s track record isn’t exactly stellar. I think the guy might be a good wide receivers coach, but I’m not so sure about his capabilities beyond being a positional coach. Groh was the Rams’ passing game coordinator in 2016. That Los Angeles offense ranked 31st in passing yards and 32nd in offensive DVOA. Jared Goff looked like a total bust as a rookie that year. I’m not saying all those struggles are Groh’s fault; he wasn’t the play-caller for that team. Still, his title indicates he had a significant role in a unit that was horrible. And now the Eagles are mightily struggling with him at offensive coordinator. Maybe not just a coincidence?
Promoting from within can be a good idea sometimes. But sometimes it feels like a lazy option. I mean, did the Eagles even hold an open search for their vacant offensive coordinator and quarterback coach positions? Maybe, but as far as I recall there was no indication they did. From the outside looking in, it seems likhey valued “familiarity” (how very Flyers of them) over trying to find the best candidate for the job. Veteran options such as Darrell Bevell, Jim Caldwell, and Mike Shula were available. You don’t necessarily want those guys calling plays but they wouldn’t have to with Pederson already doing that.
Moving forward, the Eagles need some fresh ideas. An external hire at offensive coordinator this offseason could be good step in the right direction. Pederson needs to learn from the mistake he made with Groh.
4 - Carson Wentz is pressing
Against a Saints defense that ranked 29th in opponent yards per pass attempt and 28th in pass defensive DVOA, Carson Wentz only managed to complete 57.6% of his passes for 156 yards (awful 4.7 average), zero touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 31.9 passer rating. Awful.
Very disappointing for Wentz to have the worst game of his career in a big game like this. This is the type of spot where you need your franchise quarterback to deliver against all odds. Wentz couldn’t do that on Sunday. The Saints came into the game knowing that would be the case.
Wentz struggled with accuracy and touch and reading the defense after the snap. He just looked bad out there.
Were the offensive struggles entirely his fault? No. It’s not like the offensive line was stellar. Look no further than Stefen Wisnieski’s blown protection on a critical 3rd-and-3 in the game. And it’s not like Wentz was getting a ton of help from his skill players. Still, as the starting quarterback, Wentz deserves a lot of blame.
For the most part, Wentz has posted strong numbers this season. But the stats haven’t always matched the eye test. Hopefully we’ll see him rebound down the stretch. It’s too early to push the panic button (as some are) on a player who is still not even a year removed from a serious ACL injury. That’s not to say he’s completely above criticism.
5 - It’s hard to be totally pissed at the defense in this one
Kind of a weird thing to say after they just allowed 48 points but honestly, what did you expect from Jim Schwartz’s unit? The Saints were averaging 36.7 points per game heading into this matchup. They were also primed to have a big day against an Eagles defense missing a starting safety and two starting cornerbacks.
Of course, the secondary situation only got worse as the game went along. Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, and Rasul Douglas all had to leave the game early. The Eagles were down to Chandon Sullivan, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and De’Vante Bausby at corrner.
A lot of people probably have no idea who those guys are, and I can’t blame them. If you need a refresher, allow me to help. Sullivan is an undrafted rookie free agent who began the season on the practice squad and was only promoted to the active roster in Week 8. LeBlanc joined Philadelphia’s roster on November 5 after being claimed on waivers. Bausby spent the 2017 season on the practice squad but got waived in final cuts prior to this season. He only rejoined the team as a practice squad member on November 5 before being promoted to the active roster on November 17.
None of this is to say the defense doesn’t deserve any blame for the loss. But they were clearly in a tough spot. Unlike the offense, it’s not like they drastically underperformed expectation. And, hey, if the offense could have actually sustained drives and stayed on the field, maybe the defense wouldn’t have been AS bad.
One area where I will rip the defense is their lack of turnovers. Only seven takeaways in 10 games now. Somebody friggin make a play for once.
6 - Josh Adams might be something?
A rare bright spot in the Eagles’ loss, undrafted rookie running back Josh Adams ran for 53 yards and one touchdown on his seven carries. He also had three receptions for 19 yards, which is encouraging because he hasn’t shown much ability as a pass catcher.
Adams has easily been the Eagles’ most efficient and productive runner over the last four games. Just look at the numbers:
Josh Adams: 27 carries for 178 yards and 1 TD (6.59 ypc)
Wendell Smallwood: 20 carries for 54 yards (2.7 ypc)
Corey Clement: 19 carries for 36 yards (1.89 ypc)
It’s too small of a sample size to definitively say Adams is a feature back but he’s clearly been the least worst of this uninspiring group. Keep feeding him the rock.
Also wanted to note that Pro Fooball Focus has Adams graded as the Eagles’ fifth best special teams player. PFF also says he’s the Eagles’ best pass blocking running back, though he’s only been asked to do it on six snaps.
7 - The Golden Tate trade continues to sting
Golden Tate’s first two games with the Eagles after Howie Roseman traded a 2019 third-round pick to acquire him:
Offensive snaps played: 47.8%
12 targets, 7 receptions, 67 yards (9.6 ypr), 0 TD, long of 15 yards
1 rush for -8 yards
3 punt returns for 9 yards
The Eagles’ inability to adequately self-scout is concerning for an Eagles front office that really hasn’t had the best offseason. I hope to closer review Roseman’s offseason moves at some point soon.
8 - The Eagles are “still alive” because the NFC East is stupid
I put “still alive” in quotes because I have a hard time believing the Eagles will win the division at this point. But I guess I’m obligated to point out that it’s “possible.”
Here’s a look at the remaining games for all four teams.
WASHINGTON: @DAL, @PHI, NYG, @JAX, @TEN, PHI
COWBOYS: WAS, NO, PHI, @IND, TB, @NYG
EAGLES: NYG, WAS, @DAL, @LAR, HOU, @WAS
GIANTS: @PHI, CHI, @WAS, TEN, @IND, DAL
If the Cowboys beat a Colt McCoy-led Washington team on Thanksgiving, both of those squads will be 6-5. The Eagles could then beat the Giants on Sunday to move to 5-6. If the Cowboys lose to the Saints in Week 13, they’ll drop to 6-6. An Eagles win over Washington on Monday Night Football, meanwhile, would also put Philly at 6-6 while dropping Washington to the same record. The Eagles and Cowboys would then be playing for first in the division in Week 14.
That sounds great on paper and all but it’s hard to have faith in this Eagles’ team’s garbage offense and depleted defense. Philadelphia hasn’t won back-to-back games all season. They’re suddenly about to go on a three-game winning streak? I’ll believe it when I see it.
Honestly, the Eagles might not even beat the Giants this weekend. If that’s the case, both teams will be 4-7.