1 - Carson Wentz needs some dang help
Other than being unrealistically perfect, I don’t know what more Wentz could’ve done to help the Eagles win this game.
For the most part, Wentz was pretty sharp against the Lions. He finished the day with the following stat line: 19/36, 259 yards (7.2 average), 2 TD, 0 INT, 94.6 passer rating. He also rushed for 33 yards on four carries, including a 19-yard run that immediately set up Jordan Howard’s 1-yard rushing touchdown.
Wentz’s numbers would look even better if he didn’t have to deal with SEVEN drops, three offensive pass interference penalties, and two offensive drives killed by fumbles.
The drop that hurt the most was obviously JJ Arcega-Whiteside failing to haul in Wentz’s 4th-and-15 pass that would’ve set up goal-to-go territory with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter. The Eagles could’ve scored a go-ahead touchdown or at least settled for a gimme field goal to force overtime. Instead, the game ended and now we get to hear about how Wentz isn’t clutch.
On that note, it’s amazing to think about this:
Carson Wentz has thrown game-winning TD passes in consecutive losses.— johnwintertweet (@johnwintertweet) September 22, 2019
Just bad luck, man.
With Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson both out against the Lions, the Eagles’ margin fr error was decreased. And yet big errors were made. Fumbles by Miles Sanders and Nelson Agholor potentially took points off the board for the Eagles and put six points on the board for the Lions in a game that Philadelphia lost by just three.
It wasn’t just Wentz’s offensive teammates who failed to help him. After finally scoring first quarter points for the first time all season, the Eagles’ special teams unit immediately allowed the Lions to score a kick return touchdown. Like, seriously? That’s the first kick return touchdown allowed by the Eagles since 2013. Terrible timing.
Jim Schwartz also failed to come up big. The Eagles’ defense produced zero takeaways and zero sacks. When the Eagles’ offense put together a much-needed touchdown drive together in the second half to make the game 20-17, the defense responded by giving up a nine-play, 75 yard touchdown drive to put the game back at 27-17. Just erasing the offense’s hard work.
Wentz hasn’t been perfect this season; he’s not totally above criticism. But he has been pretty good! This team could feasibly be 3-0 right now if his teammates hadn’t let him down. He’s hardly the biggest issue with this Eagles squad.
2 - Nelson Agholor is maddening
Agholor’s has produced over the past two weeks; he’s logged 16 receptions for 157 yards and three touchdowns. His double spin move touchdown against the Lions today was pretty sweet!
At the same time, Agholor has been absolutely killing this team. He dropped the potential game-winning touchdown in Week 2. Today, Agholor dropped a big third down reception that would’ve put the Eagles at the 50-yard line. He also killed a drive with a costly fumble that led to the Lions getting three points ... in a game that was decided by three points.
Agholor’s struggles are even more frustrating when one considers DeSean Jackson suggested Agholor was unhappy with his lack of targets/producting in Week 1 (as The Athletic’s Bo Wulf previously alluded to on a Birds With Friends episode). Agholor’s struggles also fail to justify his $9.4 million salary, which ranks 26th among NFL wide receivers in terms of annual value.
The Eagles could be without Jeffery and/or Jackson in Week 4. They really need Agholor to step up and stop hurting the team so much.
3 - The pass defense is not passable
A lot of people are upset about the Eagles’ lack of pass rush. They are not wrong to feel that way.
Eagles defensive ends so far this season— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 22, 2019
Week 1: 0 sacks, 4 QB hits
Week 2: 0 sacks, 4 QB hits
Week 3: 0 sacks, 2 QB hits
Quite simply, the Eagles aren’t generating enough pressure. Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett (who suffered an ankle injury in this game), Vinny Curry, and Josh Sweat are not making impact plays. The Eagles are really missing the presence of Chris Long and Michael Bennett, who were very productive for the team last year.
It’d be remiss to suggest the Eagles’ defensive ends are the only issue with Philly’s defense.
The coverage has stunk even in the times when the Eagles have been able to generate pressure. Take Brandon Graham instantly getting in Matthew Stafford’s face on a 3rd-and-11 and the pass being floated to a wide open Danny Amendola, for example. As Schwartz suggested leading up to Week 2, the pass rush could benefit from improved coverage. Ronald Darby has certainly been a contributor to the Eagles’ struggles in coverage. The Lions targeted him early and often in this game, not unlike how the Falcons went aftr him in Week 2. Or how Washington targeted his receiver in Week 1. Darby ultimately left the game with a hamstring injury.
The interior defensive line also deserves blame. Losing Malik Jackson and Timmy Jernigan hurts. But the Eagles still have Fletcher Cox and he’s not playing up to his usual ability. This isn’t a total shocker since Cox, who is coming off injury, didn’t even practice prior to Week 1. He clearly isn’t 100%.
Everyone’s focused on the lack of DE production — and rightfully so — but Cox didn’t record a single stat in today’s game.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 22, 2019
Not a tackle, not a QB hit, nothing. That’s just not gonna cut it.#Eagles
4 - The Eagles’ 2019 NFL Draft class isn’t looking so hot!
Andre Dillard — Demoted from his role as a sixth offensive lineman. Injured shortly after coming in for Jason Peters.
Miles Sanders — Did good as a receiver! Logged two receptions for 73 yards, making him the Eagles’ most reliable deep threat on the day. Had a respectable 53 yards on 13 carries (4.1 average) but left yards on the field with subpar vision/decision-making. Also fumbled twice on one drive, one of which was covered by the Lions and ultimately converted into three points ... in a three point loss.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside — JJAW has played two games worth of starting wide receivers reps now. What’s he have to show for it? Seven targets, two receptions, 14 yards. Plus today’s game-losing drop ... on a play that should be made by a jump ball specialist like JJAW. That’s abysmal. Especially when you consider how other rookie wide receivers drafted after him are playing pretty well. There are 27 more rookies — including 15 wide receivers — with more receiving yards than JJAW this season. JJAW was the sixth receiver selected in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Drafted for these types of jump ball situations, JJAW's gotta have it - pic.twitter.com/N2Lvh5gbYp— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) September 22, 2019
Shareef Miller — Will be a healthy scratch all year as a sixth defensive end.
Clayton Thorson — A total waste of a draft pick who’s currently on the Cowboys’ practice squad.
2018 college season— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 20, 2019
Gardner Minshew: 70.7% completion, 4779 yards, 7.2 y/a, 38 TD, 9 INT, 147.7 rating (119 rushing yards, 4 rushing TD, 2 fumbles)
Clayton Thorson: 61.6% completion, 3183 yards, 6.5 y/a, 17 TD, 15 INT, 121.2 rating (-110 rushing yards, 9 rushing TD, 4 fumbles)
The book on the careers of Dillard, Sanders, and JJAW are hardly written just three games into their careers. But the rookies are not off to great starts. And that’s especially frustrating in a class where only five picks were made.
5 - Malcolm Jenkins deserves his money
Malcolm Jenkins blocking Matt Prater’s 46-yard field goal attempt was CLUTCH. It’s too bad the Eagles couldn’t capitalize on that.
Jenkins also blew up a screen for a loss and had a critical pass breakup in this game.
The Eagles would be even worse off without Jenkins around.
6 - Cameron Johnston deserves a game ball
You know it’s not a great day when a punter is getting a game ball. But Johnston had a nice punt to pin the Lions deep. He also made an important tackle on a Lions punt returner. Johnston’s been pretty good in all three games this season. At least HE shows up every week.
7 - There’s reason to be worried about the season outlook!
The Eagles are 1-2 heading into a Thursday Night Football matchup at Lambeau Field against the 3-0 Green Bay Packers. The Eagles could easily be 1-3 as early as Friday morning.
This is gut check time for the Eagles. Their backs are up against the wall. They’re going to need to clean up their stupid mistakes. They’re also probably going to need to overcome injuries once again since Jackson and Jeffery might be out.
Looking even beyond the Packers game, the Eagles have a tough stretch coming up. Four of their next five games are on the road:
Week 4 - at Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Week 5 - vs. New York Jets (0-3) - but Sam Darnold is expected to be back
Week 6 - at Minnesota Vikings (2-1)
Week 7 - at Dallas Cowboys (3-0)
Week 8 - at Buffalo Bills (3-0)
The season isn’t over just yet but it could be pretty soon if this team doesn’t get their shit together, and fast.