In the biggest game of his nascent head coaching career, Nick Sirianni came up empty. He coached like he bet on the Cowboys to cover and hit the over. His game plan and play calling was an embarrassment, he cowardly punted, and in his post game comments he seemed infatuated with the other team’s QB.
Sirianni’s decision to try to air it out when the Cowboys front seven was depleted was inexcusable. He’s right that you can win a shootout against Dallas, in four of Dak Prescott’s last six losses the opposing team scored over 30 points. But Sirianni is apparently the last man on Earth to realize that the Eagles have no ability to do so (not that 30 points is a magical number that guarantees anything, but the 2020 Eagles never scored 30 points and gave up 30 six times), their best chance to win was to shorten the game on the ground. He failed, and failed spectacularly.
He was also spectacularly failed by the organization. For all of Sirianni’s faults against Dallas, the groundwork for Monday night’s stinker was built in the years of the Eagles’ inability to produce on the perimeter. The Eagles can’t play a pass heavy offense. Nor do they have a defense that can keep up with a pass heavy offense.
Since returning to power in 2016 Howie Roseman and his front office have made an art form out of blowing draft picks on wide receivers and cornerbacks. Eagles fans know all too well that they passed on Justin Jefferson for Jalen Reagor and DK Metcalf for JJ Arcega-Whiteside. But those headliners overshadow an undercard of futility. Entering Monday’s game, the top three second-era Roseman draft picks by receiving yards were Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, and Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood was barely eclipsed by Jalen Reagor on Monday; Reagor is on pace to get passed by Quez Watkins. The list doesn’t get any better if you consider Roseman’s entire career, he’s pre-Chip Kelly exile WR history was Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and Marvin McNutt. It’s not just the draft picks. No one can be faulted for the previously durable Mike Wallace (remember him?) suffering a season ending injury, but trading Torrey Smith for an offseason of Daryl Worley and giving up a 3rd round pick for 8 games of Golden Tate left the Eagles with nothing. The team also swapped draft picks for the pleasure of the oft injured DeSean Jackson spending the bulk of two seasons burning cap space that directly impacts this season. Greg Ward has more receiving yards than second stint Jackson and Tate combined.
The picture is just as bleak at cornerback. Jalen Mills is the best cornerback drafted by the Eagles in Roseman’s career, next best is Avonte Maddox. After that, it’s a boneyard. Blake Countess converted to safety and didn’t play for the team until five years after he was drafted; Sidney Jones is on his third team in as many years; Rasul Douglas is a journeyman practice squander. Again, it’s not just the draft picks. Nickell Robey-Coleman was an awful signing and the less said about Orlando Scandrick the better. Ronald Darby was fine when he was on the field but the price of Jordan Matthews and a third round pick was an overpay that is overlooked because they won the Super Bowl. Daryl Worley never made it to minicamp. The Darius Slay trade was a textbook example of a team doubling down on a bad situation.
You can’t win a shootout with this kind of organizational ineptitude at your disposal.
Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, the opportunity for an instant correction is on the table. Kansas City’s defense is a grease fire, and their run defense is basically grease. (Their passing defense is also grease.) The Chiefs are giving up the 2nd most yards per carry in the league, and doing so on the 9th most rushing attempts. Those numbers are inflated by facing the Ravens, who ran 41 times for 251 yards (Lamar Jackson had 16 carries for 107 yards and 2 TDs), but then that’s the basic game plan the Eagles should be using. And if Nick Sirianni is awe of Dak Prescott (who he already faced as an assistant coach), wait until he sees this Patrick Mahomes guy. There’s once again ample opportunity to run the ball against a defense that can’t stop the run and shorten a game against a top passing attack. We’re going to quickly learn how quickly Nick Sirianni can learn.
Three statistics of varying utility
Stat of the game I liked:
Uh, none. So let me do a different game from Week 3.
Cameron Sample, who was taken one pick after the pick the Eagles gave up for Genard Avery, got his first career sack on Sunday. That’s one more than Avery has this year, and half of his career sacks with the Eagles. Great trade.
Stat of the game I didn’t like:
In the first of Jeff McLane’s two part piece that dropped before the season detailing behind the scenes turmoil, this part now stands out:
The NFL has been slow to adopt to analytics, but there have been more teams, coaches, and general managers using advanced statistics in recent years. Sirianni has previous been open to using them, but as head coach several sources who worked with him him said they expect him to lean heavily on traditional tactics.
“He will not be driven by analytics,” one of the sources said.
That source was right.
PHI decided to punt to DAL from the DAL 46 on 4th & 5 with 5:09 remaining in the 2nd while losing 7 to 20.— Surrender Index (@surrender_index) September 28, 2021
With a Surrender Index of 9.68, this punt ranks at the 94th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2021 season, and the 91st percentile of all punts since 1999.
PHI decided to punt to DAL from the DAL 49 on 4th & 5 with 0:20 remaining in the 2nd while losing 7 to 20.— Surrender Index (@surrender_index) September 28, 2021
With a Surrender Index of 5.6, this punt ranks at the 88th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2021 season, and the 85th percentile of all punts since 1999.
Stat that may mean something for this week:
The Chiefs defense averages 7.0 yards per play against. It’s only been three games, but to put that in perspective in the previous 10 seasons only two teams have finished with an average of 6.5 or greater: the Saints in 2012 at 6.5 and again in 2015 at 6.6. The 2012 Saints defensive coordinator was Steve Spagnuolo. The 2021 Chiefs defensive coordinator is, you guessed it, Steve Spagnuolo.
DeVonta Smith Rookie of the Year Watch
This is now Ja’Marr Chase’s award to lose. It was fun while it lasted.