The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-3 after losing to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, 38 to 20.
Here are some thoughts from the game in podcast form:
And here are many thoughts from the game in blog form.
The Eagles failed the Kirk Cousins litmus test
Prior to this week’s game, I talked about how Cousins typically doesn’t beat good teams. He’s just 4-24 against squads that finish a season with nine-plus wins. If the Eagles beat Cousins, that would be a sign they’re a good team. If the Eagles lost, that would be a sign they’re a bad team.
Well, folks, guess what happened? The Eagles lost. And they sure looked like a bad team in the process!
Of course, a notable exception to the Cousins corollary is that he defeated the Eagles last year when the Birds ultimately won nine games. So, the 2018 Eagles are one of those four in the 4-24. Perhaps there’s still hope for this year’s team.
In any case, there’s no denying Cousins owns the Eagles. He’s now accounted for 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions against them in his career.
Cousins owning the Eagles will only hurt more hurt when he predictably reverts to struggling like he was earlier this season. Truly a testament to the Eagles’ defensive woes that they can’t stop this guy.
More like “Zach Clown”
Hey, so, remember those comments made by Eagles linebacker Zach Brown on Friday?
“Cousins, I think every defense is going to want that guy to throw the ball. For me, that’s probably the weakest part of their offense is him. Everything else is good. They’ve got a good running game, probably one of the best in the league. They’ve got real good receivers. You just want them to pass the ball. You want Kirk Cousins to get it in his hands.”
Wow, who could’ve guessed that might backfire?
Brown wasn’t happy to be asked about his comments following Sunday’s game.
Eagles LB Zach Brown who said Kirk Cousins was “weakest” part of their offense coming into the game did NOT want to talk about the Vikings QB after he threw 4 TDs— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) October 13, 2019
"I'm here to talk about the game. Any other questions besides Kirk Cousins?"@6abc #Eagles pic.twitter.com/8upznOUpcB
Clown move. Save the trash talk for the postgame locker room after an Eagles win.
The Vikings rightfully made fun of Brown’s comments.
“The weakest link”— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 13, 2019
The slow starts are maddening
The Eagles can’t start fast to save their lives.
They had to come back from 17 to 0 in Week 1. They had to try to come back from 17 to 6 in Week 2. They actually got a 3 to 0 lead in Week 3 before allowing a kickoff return to make it 7 to 3. They had to come back from 10 to 0 in Week 4. They never trailed in Week 5. They had to try to come back from 24 to 3 in Week 6.
Give the Eagles some credit for not folding in these situations. But, also, how about establishing and holding on to a lead more often!?
Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz have been behind at halftime in 8 of their last 11 games together. They are 2-6 in those eight games. The slow starts on offense are killing this team #Eagles— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) October 13, 2019
Doug Pederson needs to be better
This was not a good game for Doug Pederson.
The game script early on was ill-advised. Down 7 to 0 and the Eagles go with three straight runs on a three-and-out. It took until 0:08 remaining in the first quarter for Carson Wentz to attempt a pass! You know, Carson Wentz? That guy who’s the most important player on the team and received a $128 million contract extension this offseason? Maybe get that guy a little more involved against a pass defense that ranks 10th in DVOA as opposed to trying to run on a run defense that ranks 4th in DVOA?
Pederson wasn’t wise about being aggressive. He had Jake Elliott a 53-yard field goal with the Eagles at 4th-and-5 on the Vikings’ 35-yard line down 10 to 0. That’s not an easy kick and the Eagles need all the points they can get. Elliott made the kick and at least Pederson was trying to make it a one possession game. So, some slack given. But what about when Pederson kicked a 40-yard field goal on 4th-and-3 from the Vikings’ 22-yard line? That turned a 24 to 17 score into 24 to 20 ... right before the Vikings scored another touchdown to make it 31 to 20. I mean, who could’ve predicted Minnesota was going to score there except for everyone watching the Eagles’ secondary getting shredded over and over?
Pederson’s biggest gaffe, though, was the fake field goal towards the end of the first half. With the Eagles at 4th-and-4 from the Vikings’ 21-yard line, Pederson called a fake field goal that resulted in ... a Jake Elliot interception. Dallas Goedert, who was Elliott’s only option on the play, was well covered and Elliott had to try to give his tight end some kind of chance to make a play.
Dallas Goedert was the only option on the #Eagles fake field goal. it is really, really hard to see this working. pic.twitter.com/itH0JPivXh— Daniel Gallen (@danieljtgallen) October 13, 2019
After the game, Pederson shared his thought process on the call.
Fake field goal play idea was to complete pass to Goedert, him get out of bounds, Pederson says. pic.twitter.com/RVmWzUKfbj— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) October 13, 2019
... so, the goal was for Elliott to pass to Goedert and have him get out of bounds ... with, like, enough time for maybe a throw or two into the end zone? But with the risk of the clock running out since the Eagles had no timeouts?
What if Goedert caught the ball but couldn’t get the ball out of bounds? Were the Eagles really ready to have the field goal unit run up to the line of scrimmage like the offense and have Elliott spike the ball to stop the clock?
Pederson’s aggression here wasn’t the problem. It’s how he went about it. If you’re going to go for it on the fourth down, screw “the element of surprise.” Wentz was playing well and you gave this dude $128 MILLION TO BE YOUR FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK. Put the damn ball in his hands and trust him to make a play. Don’t ask Elliott to throw the ball for the first time in a game during his football career.
One last thing on Pederson that’s really just a leftover thought from last year: hire a better offensive coordinator to help you out. Please. It’s hard to say exactly how much Mike Groh is to blame for the Eagles’ offensive issues — including slow starts — but isn’t it clear he’s not part of the solution?
Maybe we don’t talk enough about how Eagles OC Mike Groh was passing game coordinator for a 2016 Rams offense that ranked 31st in passing yards per game and 32nd in passing DVOA.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 18, 2018
Doug Pederson is relatively inexperienced and the best solution is to surround him with more inexperience at OC and QB coach? #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 9, 2018
The Eagles’ secondary needs to be hospitalized
So many burn victims. First it was Sidney Jones getting toasted on a double move. Then it was Rasul Douglas — who runs a 4.6 40-yard dash — getting torched twice. In fairness to Douglas, he should’ve received more safety help, as Malcolm Jenkins admitted.
Malcolm Jenkins took the blame for this TD after the game. He said he vacated the middle of the field— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 13, 2019
Douglas was PFF’s 20th highest graded corner heading into this week. He’s certainly not perfect but he’s been the team’s best corner.
Jones, on the other hand, was clearly seen as a weak point in this game. The Vikings predictably went after him early and often. Jones was replaced by Craig James at one point. It’s unclear if that was injury or performance related. Either way, not good. Jones committed a defensive holding that gave the Vikings 1st-and-goal prior to scoring the touchdown that put Minnesota up 38 to 20.
Hard to not to say Jones is looking like a bust. Expectations were high and he’s completely failed to live up to them. Both Pederson and Jenkins have seemingly expressed frustration with Jones over the past week, calling his toughness into question.
Malcolm Jenkins on keeping DBs confident— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 13, 2019
“This game’s not for suckers. If you aren’t confident on the outside, then we can’t use you. So we don’t mind that they’re challenging the outside of it... Our defense is going to call for guys to be able to go outside and cover” pic.twitter.com/pBMKb6ca8u
The Eagles desperately need more talent at cornerback. They’ll potentially be getting Jalen Mills back this week but how much will that really help? Cre’Von LeBlanc won’t be back until Week 9 at the earliest.
I wouldn’t hold your breath on the Eagles acquiring Jalen Ramsey but they could sure use that guy, huh?
Per Next Gen Stats, 6.9% of Kirk Cousins' throws were into tight windows (defender within 1 yard of the receiver). That's the 3rd-lowest percentage for a QB in Wk 6.— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) October 14, 2019
In other words, numbers back up eye test. Eagles' coverage was terrible, and receivers were wide open all day.
The pass rush is still not dominating
Cousins sure had a lot of time to throw on Sunday. He was only sacked once and hit just four times. It’s not good enough. Coverage and the pass rush need to complement each other better.
Confirmed: Carson Wentz’s teammates really do hate him
So, I don’t actually think Wentz’s teammates hate him. But they sure do play like it!
Wentz can’t get any help. It’s crazy.
Alshon Jeffery has a fourth down conversion go right through his hands. Same thing for Zach Ertz on a third down conversion. Nelson Agholor continues to struggle to fight through contact on deep routes and can’t track the ball to save his life. Jeffery catches a dime from Wentz and inexplicably loses his balance as he stumbles out of bounds despite having a ton of open room (enough for a touchdown?!) in front of him. Wentz hits Ertz on a great strike over the middle and the Eagles’ comeback attempt is killed as the tight end fumbles.
I can’t believe how unlucky Wentz has been this season! I feel like Nick Foles never had to deal with this amount of adversity. The only guy who dropped a Foles pass was Keanu Neal in the 2018 NFC Divisional Round! (Okay, and obviously Jeffery in last year’s Divisional Round, but you get the point.)
Honestly, when was the last time an Eagles skill player made an incredible play to help out Wentz? It feels like it never happens. Meanwhile, you see Stefon Diggs making an incredible toe-tapping touchdown reception as some are complaining about how a Wentz pass might’ve been a little high (but still entirely catchable).
There were a number of moments against the Vikings where the Eagles’ best offense came not through scheme but through Wentz’s creation abilities. Take his touchdown pass to Jeffery, for example.
I’ll never not be impressed by Carson Wentz. pic.twitter.com/I5GGh9I5NH— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) October 13, 2019
Someone get Wentz some help. I don’t know what more he’s realistically supposed to do on his end.
DeSean Jackson returning would be ideal. On that note ...
The Eagles are too damn slow!
I’ve only written about this a billion times before but it bears repeating once again: the Eagles are too slow. There’s no big play ability on offense with Jackson missing. In a modern NFL that’s all about speed and scoring a lot of points, the Eagles are trotting out this plodding group of chain movers. It’s all the more frustrating when the Eagles are trailing because it’s not like the Eagles are just a couple big plays away from erasing a deficit ... like they were in Week 1 when they had Jackson. No, instead the Eagles have to methodically drive down the field each time. It’s like pulling teeth just to score points. PRIORITIZE SPEED MOVING FORWARD!
Even on defense, the Eagles have been drafting slower corners. Douglas is a 4.6 player. Mills is a 4.61 player. Jones was a 4.47 prior to injury but he sure doesn’t look as fast now. Again, why isn’t there an appreciation for speed?
Howie Roseman’s bad drafting is hurting this team
Let’s take a look at all the draft picks Roseman has made since returning to power in 2016.
Zero first-team All-Pro players. One Pro Bowl selection.
Outside of Wentz, who are the studs here? Goedert has bright potential but his ceiling is somewhat capped with Ertz around. There’s hope Dillard could be a good left tackle. Sanders is showing some potential ... as a pass catcher (more on that later).
The 2017 draft class is especially disappointing three years in. Derek Barnett is a ... fine? ... starting defensive end. Jones is a bust. Douglas is an acceptable starting corner who might ideally be a backup. Mack Hollins is a special teams player and fourth or fifth receiver. Donnel Pumphrey was such a distrarous pick in a class that was LOADED at running back. Nathan Gerry’s been fine for where he was selected, I guess. Elijah Qualls didn’t do anything. Corey Clement was looking like a great undrafted free agent signing as a rookie but he’s since gone on injured reserve in two straight seasons.
The JJ Arcega-Whiteside pick from this year deserves a ton of scrutiny. The Eagles had a golden opportunity to trade down from their second second-round pick. Instead, they stayed put and selected JJAW. The rookie receiver hasn’t been able to give this team ANYTHING so far. JJAW has just two receptions for 14 yards and he can’t get on the field ahead of Agholor, who’s been a disaster, or Hollins, who also isn’t giving this team much. Meanwhile, players drafted after JJAW such as DK Metcalf (4 recs, 69 yards) and Terry McLaurin (4 recs, 100 yards, 2 TD) contributed to their teams winning today.
This isn’t to suggest the book has been written on JJAW’s career. He could develop into a good player. But it’s hardly insignificant that he’s giving this team NOTHING right now. Insted of drafting a player with deep speed in case something happened to Jackson, the Eagles selected another non-field stretcher. Because who needs big plays?
Roseman does a number of things well. He understands value and he’s obviously done good work with the Eagles’ salary cap situation. But his draft record ... it’s just not good. And it’s a big issue moving forward with the Eagles having the second oldest roster in the NFL.
Miles Sanders is so much better as a pass catcher than a running back
Sanders the runner looks indecisive and often leaves yards on the field. He’s only gained 21 yards on 12 carries (1.75 average) over the past two weeks.
Sanders the pass catcher, though? That guy’s pretty good! Sanders has logged 10 receptions for 133 yards and one receiving touchdown this season. He’s been the Eagles’ best deep threat with Jackson out:
Eagles longest pass plays last 4 games:— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) October 14, 2019
45 yards … Sanders from Wentz vs. Vikings
40 yards … Sanders from Carson vs. Lions
36 yards … Sanders from Wentz vs. Jets
33 yards … Sanders from Carson vs. Lions
32 yards … Sanders from Carson vs. Vikings
This is both:
1) encouraging for Sanders’ development!
2) a depressing commentary on the Eagles’ slow ass offense.
Jake Elliott is still perfect on the season … as a kicker
Elliott’s sole NFL pass attempt was picked off but he still hasn’t missed a kick this season. He’s now 7/7 on field goal attempts, including a 53-yard make today. He’s also 16/16 on extra points.
For the love of God beat the freaking Cowboys
Must-win game for the Eagles in Dallas next week. Can’t fall down to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the division while the Cowboys move to 4-3 and 3-0 in those respects. Can’t drop to 0-4 in their last four games against the Cowboys.
Beating the Cowboys won’t solve all the Eagles’ problems. But it will go a long way towards at least helping them win the NFC East. Gotta get that W.