The Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round of the 2020 NFL playoffs. Let’s run through some final thoughts on the final game of the Eagles’ 2019 season.
1 - The Carson Wentz injury really sucked
If you needed a reminder that life’s just not fair, well, look no further than Wentz getting knocked out of his first playoff game after just four pass attempts.
It’s so frustrating because he just made it though a 16-game season for the second time in his career. He proved so many doubters wrong by staying healthy and leading the Eagles to the postseason by playing great football down the stretch in December.
Wentz getting playoff experience was supposed to be a big positive from this season, regardless of when the Eagles were eliminated.
Jadeveon Clowney robbed fans of that silver lining by lauching his helmet into the back of Wentz’s head.
Need answers about this@NFLOfficiating— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) January 6, 2020
After the game, Clowney said he didn’t intend to injure Wentz. The game’s officials also claimed it wasn’t a penalty since Wentz didn’t give himself up. If you’re naive enough to believe these claims, I have some oceanfront property in Wrightstown, PA to sell you.
Wentz dives forward on this play against the Seahawks and takes a helmet-to-helmet shot to the back of the head from Clowney. There’s no call because refs said he didn’t give himself up. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 6, 2020
Intentional or not (easy to lean towards the former), this hit was kind of a big deal. It knocked Wentz out of the game. Making matters worse, the hit also caused a bunch of morons to talk about Wentz being injury prone. I can’t even with that.
Maybe the Eagles still lose if Wentz doesn’t get knocked out. The Eagles obviously lost to the Seahawks when Wentz played the entire game back in Week 12. But his presence certainly would’ve given them a better chance than they had without him. Wentz was balling in December. He showed the ability to elevate his teammates. It really sucks we didn’t get to see him have the opportunity to do that again in January.
Although it was an unfortunate and unlucky ending to the season, at least Wentz erased doubt that he’s a franchise quarterback worth building around. The Eagles must do a better much better job at giving him help this offseason. From better assistant coaches to better teammates both on and off the field ... give Wentz the support system he deserves.
2 - The Seahawks sure do own the Eagles
Russell Wilson is now 5-0 against the team that notably had interest in drafting him but passed on him three times because they thought they could wait to select him. Welp.
Wilson is a special player. He helped bail the Seahawks out of a number of 3rd-and-long situations.
Cool moment after the game:
Russell Wilson went up to Doug Pederson postgame and asked if Carson Wentz was okay.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 6, 2020
Don’t get me wrong, I think the Eagles are in a good spot with Wentz as their franchise quarterback. But, man, watching Russ play for the Eagles instead of always beating them could be cool.
3 - Josh McCown gave it all he had
Hard to be disappointed with the effort the Eagles got from their backup quarterback. The 40-year-old McCown ultimately came up short but he gave it a good go by completing 75% of his attempts for 174 yards (7.3 average) and a 94.8 passer rating. The Eagles had a reasonable chance to tie the score late in the game. Part of the reason he got sacked on the final fourth down is because he alerted to a second play but not all of his teammates were on the same page. Such miscommunication ties to having to rely on a bunch of former practice squad players in a key spot.
McCown was really emotional during his postgame press conference. It looks like this might be the end of his playing career:
Very emotional press conference from Josh McCown following what might be his final NFL game. pic.twitter.com/OCyEEIz1qY— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 6, 2020
The Eagles should certainly consider adding McCown to their coaching staff this offseason. By all accounts, he seems like a solid dude who genuinely wants the best for others. I think he might have a bright future as a coach.
4 - Doug Pederson took the Eagles as far as he reasonably could've
Can’t be mad at Pederson for how this season ended. He had an incredibly injured offense within one score of advancing to the divisonal round for the third year in a row.
Pederson’s a good head coach. His players play hard for him and his teams are consistently resilient.
With Pederson and Wentz in the fold, there’s reason to be optimistic about the Eagles’ future. It’s a strong head coach and quarterback combination. The front office needs to pull their weight and give those guys more support.
5 - Howie Roseman needs to do better
Out of the big three of Wentz, Pederson, and Roseman, I’d argue Roseman inspires the least confidence moving forward.
I just don’t think Howie’s done a great job of giving Wentz and Pederson the adequate support they need. The way the wide receiver position has been mismanaged obviously sticks out.
It’s pretty frustrating to watch DK Metcalf have seven receptions for 160 yards and one touchdown in 58 snaps in a playoff win over the Eagles ... while JJ Arcega-Whiteside has 10 receptions and 169 yards for one touchdown in 498 snaps over the entire season. Metcalf was drafted seven picks over JJAW.
I get that every general manager has hits and misses. I’m not expecting Roseman to nail every pick. As a Sam Hinkie truther, I’d like to think I’m a process over results guy.
But I seriously struggle to understand Roseman’s process sometimes. What led them to believe JJAW was a better prospect than Metcalf? Metcalf has the superior athletic profile, by far:
With pick 64 in the 2019 NFL Draft, the #Seahawks selected D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) June 11, 2019
He posted an elite #RAS with elite size, elite speed, elite explosiveness, v.poor agility at the WR position.#Seahawks pic.twitter.com/9m13q6jkJK
With the 57th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the #Eagles select J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 27, 2019
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside posted a Good #RAS with Great size, Good speed, Okay explosiveness, V.Poor agility at the WR position. pic.twitter.com/OtJygxmK2G
And it’s not like Metcalf was some little-known prospect. This is a guy who was getting first-round buzz leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft.
I guess the Eagles thought they had a market inefficiency by staying up late to watch PAC12 football based on these post-draft comments from Roseman:
“Sometimes these West Coast guys who play late, they get a little underrated because people aren’t watching those late games. This guy [JJAW] is a baller. He’s got a very good skill-set and I think when our fans get to know him they are going to be really proud. He symbolizes Eagle mentality, Eagle football.”
I’m not ready to say JJAW is a bust who will never amount to anything. But that he couldn’t contribute at all as a rookie isn’t irrelevant. Plenty of teams got good production from rookie receivers in 2019.
The JJAW pick is hardly the Eagles’ only head-scratching wide receiver decision. Roseman inexplicably guaranteeing Alshon Jeffery’s contract for 2020 prior to the 2019 season must also be mentioned. And on that note, here’s the reporter that Jeffery allegedly leaked anonymous criticism about Wentz to feeding a dumb “Wentz is injury prone” narrative following Clowney’s hit:
January 5, 2020
The Eagles have two options with Jeffery: 1) bring him back into the fold for 2020 despite him allegedly criticizing the starting quarterback who carried lesser talent to the playoffs ... or ... 2) getting rid of him by either cutting him (lots of dead money) or trading him with an asset (still significant dead money but less than cutting him) to dump his contract. And, again, guaranteeing Jeffery’s deal was a bad process. What leverage did he have against the team? What was the reason to ever do it?
Don’t even get me started on the Genard Avery trade. Instead of finding any kind of receiver help at the deadline, Roseman traded a 2021 fourth-round pick for a 2018 fifth-round prospect who couldn’t get on the field for the Browns. Avery played 33 defensive snaps for the Eagles in the regular season before being a healthy scratch against Seattle. Maybe Avery can contribute in 2020 and beyond; he’s still under contract for cheap for two years. But the early returns are not encouraging.
To be clear, I’m not saying Roseman should be fired. He deserves a ton of credit for helping the Eagles win Super Bowl LII and that’s going to buy him time to try to win another championship.
I just wonder if Roseman can really replicate the success he had that season when he basically hit on every free agent signing (Chris Long, Patrick Robinson, LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith, etc.). I wonder if that’s the anomaly and the larger sample size of Roseman’s career outside of 2017 is more indicative of what’s to come with him leading the way. Minus the Super Bowl season, the Eagles are 75-74 since Roseman came into power. They’re 19-16 since February 4, 2018.
Hopefully Roseman will have some more big hits like the Miles Sanders pick moving forward. That was a great job by him.
6 - This team needs some wide receivers!
Against the Seahawks, the Eagles’ wide receivers combined for four receptions for 29 yards. Seattle’s wide receivers, meanwhile, combined for 13 receptions for 279 yards. Slight difference there.
The Eagles desperately need to upgrade their receiving corps in 2020. The good news is the 2020 NFL Draft is loaded with receiver talent. The bad news is the Eagles don’t have a great track record at drafting that position:
Wide receivers drafted by the Eagles since Howie Roseman was promoted to GM in 2010:— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 9, 2019
The Eagles are looking good at tight end with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. They’ve also got something cooking with Miles Sanders and Boston Scott in the backfield. Now get some freaking receivers.
And, preferably, ones who can actually run fast and stretch the field. The mere presence of a vertical threat can help! Just look at how a Shelton Gibson deep route cleared space for a 16-yard Greg Ward reception against Seattle. Or how Gibson drew a 39-yard pass interference penalty. And those things happened in the only two snaps he played! Maybe just play Gibson more next year and that solves everything?
Just kidding. But, seriously, this offense has lacked a vertical threat for basically two seasons now. Getting DeSean Jackson in 2020 should help but they can’t only rely on him once again. There needs to be some kind of contingency.
7 - Miles Sanders’ future is bright
He had the drop on fourth down but McCown took blame for throwing that ball behind him. Probably still should have caught it. Just yet another costly drop during the Eagles’ 2019 season.
Drop aside, Sanders looked really good down the stretch. He’s looking like he could be a star.
8 - Zach Ertz is tough as hell
Dude suffered a lacerated kidney in addition to cracked ribs and still played 61 snaps against Seattle. And even made the Eagles’ longest reception of the game. Ertz is a warrior.
9 - Jim Schwartz shouldn’t be fired
Schwartz can be frustrating, for sure, but the Eagles could definitely do worse at defensive coordinator. Philly’s defense allowed 17 points or fewer in eight of the team’s final 10 games. They’ve allowed the fewest points per game at home since he was first hired in 2016. Again, he’s not perfect, but he’s done enough to stay.
10 - Fletcher Cox was a monster
Great to see Cox assert himself in this game. It was a strong effort from the jump as he forced a fumble on Travis Homer, who was very lucky to fall on the ball. Cox had six tackles, three tackles for loss, and one quarterback hit. Here’s hoping he can be more like this in 2020 after 2019 was his lowest sack total since 2013. Cox not spending an entire offseason recovering from a serious foot injury should help him.
11 - Malcolm Jenkins deserves his due
Back in May, I wrote about how the Eagles need to do the right thing and make Jenkins happy by giving him some more money. They did not do that and instead left his contract as is.
Jenkins, to his credit, didn’t sulk. He skipped voluntary workouts but he didn’t hold out of any mandatory obligations. He didn’t miss a single snap for the second season in a row. He came up with some really big plays, such as the field goal block in Week 3 that should’ve led to a win. He had a crucial third down sack on Wilson in this game to give the Eagles’ offense a chance to tie the game. That in addition to a team-leading nine tackles, one tackle for loss, and two other quarterback hits.
Paying big money to Jenkins, who turned 32 in December, isn’t the easiest decision for the Eagles due to his age and the team’s cap situation. But Jenkins deserves to be financially rewarded by somebody. He’s been heck of a player and leader for this team.
12 - There’s a sense of pride
Losing to the Seahawks was hardly the most crushing end there’s ever been to an Eagles season. The injuries were too much to overcome at a certain point.
The Eagles still deserve credit for fighting back from 5-7 and winning the NFC East. At the very least, they kept the Dallas Cowboys out of the playoffs.
13 - There’s a very big offseason ahead
There’s a lot of work to be done. Coaching staff changes, free agency, the 2020 NFL Draft, etc. The Eagles need to have a strong offseason to put themselves in good position for next season. The last two haven’t been awesome. Hopefully things go better this year.
Also, hopefully the Eagles figure out a way to go through a season without a ton of their key players getting hurt. As opposed to the past few seasons. Worth a try.
As always, we’ll be covering all the Eagles news right here on Bleeding Green Nation. And thanks for your support through the regular season and the playoffs!