The Philadelphia Eagles are 0-1 after losing the Washington Football Team on Sunday afternoon. Let’s get straight to some very important thoughts on the game.
1 - This is an inexcusable loss
The Eagles were up 17 points on a team that finished 3-13 last year. And then they gave up 27 unanswered to lose. That’s embarrassing. Just can’t happen.
The Eagles’ schedule only gets tougher, especially later in the year. Blowing one of their easier games — especially a division matchup — could prove to be costly.
2 - Carson Wentz was awful after a great start
It was so comforting to see Wentz to start strong.
He opened the game by completing 12 of his first 15 attempts for 176 yards (11.7 average), two touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 155.1 passer rating. The 55-yard completion to Jalen Reagor was his longest since October 2018 (hat tip to Bo Wulf). Despite a less than ideal offensive line setup, Wentz looked composed while dropping dimes all over the field.
Facing 1st-and-10 at the Eagles’ 28-yard line with 1:37 remaining in the first half, Wentz had a nice opportunity to increase Philly’s lead. Or at least kill some clock before punting and likely holding Washington to zero points in the first half.
Instead, he threw a pick on a pass meant for Reagor that gave Washington life. He was intercepted again while trying to target John Hightower early in the third quarter. The two turnovers directly led to 14 points by Washington. It looked like the rookie receivers could’ve better fought for the ball but ultimately they were bad throws by the quarterback.
Wentz’s struggles continued as he failed to throw a third down pass away and took a sack that preceded Jake Elliott missing short on a 53-yard field goal attempt.
The nail in the coffin was when Wentz fumbled for a second time and Washington, sporting a 10-point lead, recovered to essentially seal the game.
There’s no question that Wentz wasn’t helped by the Eagles’ porous offensive line. They allowed eight sacks, the most he’s taken in any one game during his career.
Even so, Wentz still could’ve been a lot better. Inaccurate throws were present throughout the game, just like they often were in this year’s training camp practices. Wentz too often tried to play hero ball, which resulted in sacks and fumbles.
This was a real concerning performance from Wentz. I’m obviously not calling for him to be benched after just one game. I’m pretty confident he’s going to turn in better outings than this one. But some of Wentz’s long-standing issues, such as his inaccurate throws and fumbling, could very well limit this team’s ceiling with him as their starter.
Wentz originally put the Eagles in good position to win this game but then he gave it away.
Carson Wentz: “I’ve got to be better. I have to protect the ball. It starts with me and I’ll own that.” #Eagles pic.twitter.com/2aQvGEI4sn— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 13, 2020
3 - Who could’ve guessed there would be offensive line struggles?
It turns out it’s kind of a problem when you go into the season without your projected starters at left tackle, right guard, and right tackle.
And then the Eagles lost their replacement right tackle in Jack Driscoll due to injury. Jordan Mailata had to come into the game.
Wentz got sacked eight times and hit 14 times. There was no real room for the running backs that combined for 55 yards on 16 attempts (3.4 average).
It’s said that games are won and lost in the trenches and that certainly applied today with Washington’s loaded defensive line ultimately dominating the Eagles up front. Ryan Kerrigan continues to be an Eagle Killer and Chase Young is going to be a problem for a long time.
It goes without saying that the Eagles need to get healthy up front. Getting Lane Johnson back should obviously help ... but it’s not like it was just one trouble spot for the Birds. The o-line was all bad. Long-time fixtures like Jason Peters and Jason Kelce didn’t exactly look so hot out there.
Side note: What happened to Matt Pryor, exactly? He was taking first team left tackle reps just a couple weeks ago. He also saw a lot of reps at first team right guard and right tackle during training camp. And now he’s not good enough to be a starter OR be the third string option at right tackle. I guess the Eagles just think he’s not good? So weird how we got here after this:
Jeff Stoutland says Matt Pryor has made a big jump. “Extremely valuable because he can play a lot of positions. […] To have that swing value to me is extremely important. […] I look at him like a starter, like I looked at Vaitai last year.”#Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) July 31, 2020
Not to suggest that Pryor is the Eagles’ savior or anything. Just wondering about their process.
4 - TOO MANY FRIGGIN INJURIES
Seriously, why do the Eagles continue to be so injured?!
The Birds entered this matchup without seven of their projected Week 1 starters. They also suffered the following in-game injuries:
DeSean Jackson oddly didn’t seem to be at 100%. He was spending time on the sideline while the starting offense was on the field and the broadcast said something about him working out his back.
Boston Scott had to leave the game early, leaving the Eagles with Corey Clement and Jason Huntley at running back at one point. Scott later returned.
Driscoll had to leave the game late in the third quarter. Jordan Mailata had to come in.
Vinny Curry left the game with a hamstring injury and didn’t return.
Brandon Graham suffered a concussion. With Curry and Derek Barnett also out, the Eagles were down to Josh Sweat and Genard Avery as their only two defensive ends.
Like, what the heck is going on here? Is it really all just bad luck? Is Doug Pederson doing something wrong? Is this some kind of curse for winning the Super Bowl?
People are quick to blame the medical staff but the Eagles made two hires from some of the NFL’s healthiest teams in recent years!
Idk, man. It feels like the Eagles are eventually due for some good injury luck at some point. Maybe in 2028.
Early word on Eagles injuries, from what I've gathered:— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) September 13, 2020
-- Brandon Graham was tested for concussion and initial evaluation came back negative.
-- Jack Driscoll was dealing with cramping.
-- DeSean Jackson is fine, feels great.
So Vinny Curry (hamstring) appears most serious.
5 - More stale offense
I’d put more of the blame on Wentz than Doug Pederson but it’s not like the coaching really helped break the Eagles out of their slump when the offense went cold.
Drives you nuts to see the Eagles obsessed with those garbanzo beans screens on 2nd-and-long that inevitably bring 3rd-and-long. Sucks to have to be constantly operating behind schedule.
The Eagles converted 5-of-14 third downs against Washington. Their average yards-to-go on those 14 third downs was 10.6.— Bo Wulf (@Bo_Wulf) September 13, 2020
6 - In defense of the defense
The Eagles played better on defense than the final score shows. They allowed 27 points, yeah, but look at Washington’s starting field position on those scoring drives:
1 - 45 yards from the end zone - TD
2 - 20 yards from the end zone - TD
3 - 46 yards from the end zone - FG
5 - 48 yards from the end zone - TD
6 - 42 yards from the end zone - FG
In other words, the Football Team did not score when they had to start a drive in their own territory. If the offense (read: Wentz) took better care of the ball, they wouldn’t have allowed 27.
This isn’t to say the defense was perfect. We all saw the blown coverage on the first touchdown surrendered. And that could be a sign of trouble to come with Jalen Mills being involved in a miscommunication. The Green Goblin specifically mentioned that aspect has been the biggest challenge of transitioning from cornerback to safety.
Fletcher Cox had two tackles and zero sacks or hits in this game. While Cox is hardly the reason they lost, his quiet showing did make me wonder: when was the last time he really took over a game? Cox makes an impact beyond the stats, as we know, but it would be nice if the player with the highest cap hit on the roster also didn’t look so forgettable in the box score.
7 - Wide receiver is certainly not “fixed”
Again, not sure what was up with Jackson, but he didn’t look 100% out there. But availability is obviously going to be a concern with DeSean, who turns 34 this season.
On the plus side, Reagor clearly has speed. That’s awesome! He probably would’ve had a deep touchdown if Wentz didn’t overthrow him at one point. But the 21-year-old is hardly a refined player. It didn’t look like he was totally on the same page with Wentz. The same was true for Hightower, who had a bad drop.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had a good camp but was invisible today with zero targets. Not encouraging!
Still ample concerns at this position.
8 - Quiet day for the guy who wants a new contract
In case you missed it, Zach Ertz and Howie Roseman reportedly had a “very heated discussion” after an Eagles practice session this past week. Ertz clearly isn’t happy about his contract situation.
The trusty tight end didn’t exactly give himself more leverage with today’s performance. His fourth down drop ended the Eagles’ chances of staging a comeback. Ertz only had three receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown. He was outperformed by Dallas Goedert, who caught eight passes for 101 yards and one score.
9 - Not maximizing the Day 2 draft resources
Jalen Hurts, No. 53 overall, was a healthy scratch. Davion Taylor didn’t notably play on defense and he committed a special teams penalty.
On a day where the Eagles were so decimated by injury, it would’ve been nice to have players who could potentially contribute. The Hurts and Taylor picks never offered much short-term upside as much as they were about long-term potential.
10 - It’s hard not to be concerned about the season outlook
Look, it’s not like the season is over. Pederson has obviously proved capable of digging the Eagles out of a hole over the past few years.
Getting guys like Johnson and Miles Sanders back should help. Wentz will probably play better than he did today. There are still reasons for optimism.
At the same time, it’s fair to wonder about the ceiling for this 2020 team. There are a lot of issues here that aren’t going to just magically go away. This loss to Washington might be the beginning of more struggles to come.