The Eagles lost to the Giants. Terrible. Time to hand out some winners, losers, and IDKs.
THE EAGLES’ DEFENSE
Let’s be clear: there aren’t any gold stars to hand out after a loss like this. This is a soft “winner” inclusion.
But it’s only fair to acknowledge the Eagles didn’t lose this game because of their defense. Jonathan Gannon’s unit allowed just 13 points. They came up with a couple big stops right after turnovers. Alex Singleton and Avonte Maddox were among those who had good games.
That being said, this wasn’t an A+ performance. For starters, the Giants’ offense is bad to begin with and they were missing a number of key players due to injury. The Eagles also only notched one sack (a play where Daniel Jones gave himself up to force Philly to call their final timeout) and five quarterback hits. This despite going up against one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines. Jones is one of the most turnover-prone players in the league and they didn’t notch a single takeaway off of him. (Maddox came close but bobbled a pick before establishing possession in bounds.)
The Giants won their biggest game of the season.
#Giants HC Joe Judge blasts the #Eagles: “To disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything you can to help those players win, we will never do that as long as I’m the HC of the Giants."— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 4, 2021
The Cowboys losing to the Raiders on Thanksgiving opened the door for the Eagles to make an unexpected run at the top spot in the NFC East. With a golden opportunity in front of them, the Birds responded by ... crapping all over themselves. Philly’s chances of winning the division are back down in the single digits at 6.8%.
So ends a fun thought.
The passing numbers: 14/31 (45.2% completion), 129 yards (4.2), 0 TD, 3 INT, 17.5 passer rating.
This against a Giants defense that was missing both starting safeties and lost two of their cornerbacks during the game.
“But Hurts gave them a chance to win at the end! He had multiple touchdown passes dropped!”
Sure. It’s true that the Eagles could’ve won if Jalen Reagor doesn’t drop both of the passes thrown his way near the end of the game. Or if Greg Ward doesn’t drop a perfectly thrown pass in the end zone before the end of the first half.
But these mistakes hardly absolve Hurts. The Eagles’ starting quarterback was really bad in this game. The framing that “he had them in a position to win” doesn’t really tell the whole story. He was incredibly fortunate that the Giants scored zero points (seems impossible) directly off of Philly’s four turnovers, three of which were Hurts interceptions. Not to mention Hurts had a pick dropped on the final drive.
And even though Ward dropped a touchdown, the Eagles still could’ve had a chance at a very short field goal if Hurts didn’t inexplicably force a bad throw that was picked instead of clocking the ball. Get three points there and maybe the Eagles can send the game to overtime with a field goal at the end.
This was very much a “stock down” game for Hurts. The performance doesn’t automatically disqualify him from being the team’s franchise quarterback. Just as the recent wins didn’t automatically establish him as that guy.
But after a game like this, it’s hard to say things are trending in the right direction for him. Not ideal when the opponent identifies your quarterback’s passing ability as a key weakness.
Giants safety Julian Love during his description of the Giants’ plan against Jalen Hurts: “Make him throw the ball… He’s very talented but we wanted to make him beat us throwing.” #Giants #Eagles #NFL pic.twitter.com/dzNwiCRb5W— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) November 28, 2021
He’s legitimately one of the worst wide receivers in the NFL.
Jalen Reagor this season (ranks among 63 WRs with 200+ routes run):— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) November 29, 2021
56% catch rate (58th)
0.70 yards/route run (61st)
4.5 yards/target (62nd)
8.0 yards/reception (63rd)
The Eagles have somehow found a more frustrating and worse version of Nelson Agholor.
Reagor dropped a huge opportunity to earn some goodwill and help the Eagles steal a game they very much deserved to lose.
Also, lol at this tweet from PRIOR to the game.
"I think behind the scenes the coaching staff is happy with Reagor's development,"- Tim McManus told Devon Givens and Derrick Gunn that despite a lack of production, the Eagles coaching staff still like what they see in Jalen Reagor.— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) November 28, 2021
The Eagles won’t do it — in part because they lack realistic quality alternatives — but they should absolutely bench him. That he continues to play so much undermines the validity of a meritocracy.
Taking Reagor over Justin Jefferson continues to look like an unmitigated disaster. An absolutely catastrophic, franchise-altering miss.
And it’s hardly a mistake that only looks bad with the benefit of hindsight. Everyone knew at the time that Jefferson should’ve been the pick.
Everyone except the Eagles’ general manager.
“But, actually, the scouts wanted Jefferson! It was the coaching staff that wanted Reagor!”
This notion has been put out there and it’s just so weak. Roseman has final say on personnel. It’s his mistake to bear. I don’t get how Doug Pederson wasn’t even allowed to pick his own assistants — and ultimately got fired for drawing a line in the sand about that much — but somehow had the power to take Reagor.
It’s bad enough that the Eagles missed out on Jefferson. The lack of accountability for that mistake makes it even worse.
Scott didn’t have a terrible game outside of his fumble. But, I mean, you can’t just discount what was an incredibly costly mistake. The Eagles would’ve been at 2nd-and-6 from NYG’s 45-yard line with about 1:35 left in the game if he didn’t lose control of the ball. Philly obviously ended up getting another possession and almost won. Still, real bad moment from Scott.
There’s a lot of ire for Sirianni reverting to early season mode and not running the ball enough early on. There’s some merit to that criticism.
Of course, the answer on offense can’t always just be “run the ball.” A team can’t be so one-dimensional. Hurts was averaging 19.5 pass attempts per game in the Eagles’ last four matchups before Week 12. That’s just not sustainable. The team with the least average pass attempts per game is at 28.2. The 35 per game is the league average. At some point, you need your quarterback to be able to handle throwing the ball with normal volume. 31 pass attempts is hardly asking the world of a player.
So, yeah, I would put this loss more on Hurts than Sirianni. That being said, the head coach still earned his place in the losers section.
Sirianni ultimately deserves blame when the offense finishes with seven targets for Reagor and seven COMBINED targets for Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith. That’s clearly out of whack. Hurts shoulders some of the blame as well.
A couple of the poor play-calls that stood out:
- Targeting Greg Ward on 1st-and-goal. I get that the play worked from the standpoint that Hurts got the ball to Ward in the end zone and the receiver dropped the very catchable pass. But why is Ward getting his first target since Week 4 in a really crucial spot? Why isn’t it DeVonta running that route instead? It feels too cute. Stop overthinking it and trying to outsmart the other team. Just get the ball to your best players.
- The sequence where Kenneth Gainwell saw his first target of the game lining up in the slot on 3rd-and-2. And then Reagor getting the fourth down target to bring up a turnover on downs. Again, how are these the options you’re going to in a critical situation?
And I don’t want to hear that the Giants were doing an amazing job of taking Smith and Goedert away. It’s not like Hurts was avoiding them to throw to other targets who were regularly getting open:
Hurts attempted a career-high 39% of throws into tight windows, per NextGen, going 2-of-12 with an INT in those instances.— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) November 29, 2021
If you’re going to force the issue, why not force it to the team’s best pass-catchers?
On Monday, Sirianni acknowledged he needs to do a better job of making sure Goedert and Smith are getting more targets. One would hope that’s not just lip service.
Dropped a touchdown on his first target since Week 4.
Herbie had holding penalties that negated two big plays, most notably Scott’s 21-yard touchdown run before the end of the first half. The Eagles ended up getting zero points instead of seven on that drive.
Driscoll has generally played well but availability has been an issue for the 2020 fourth-round pick. He ended his rookie season on injured reserve and now he’ll be headed back to IR for the third time in two years. Are injury issues going to plague his career?
Not because he did anything wrong. He makes this category because he suffered from being severely underutilized. Did consider including him in the winners section for this mentality:
DeVonta Smith livid as he came off the field. Threw his helmet to the bench. Wanted the ball. Was open. Never saw a target on the #Eagles' final two drives.— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) November 28, 2021
No. 1 wide receiver mindset. Give him the damn ball.
Not because he did anything wrong, although he did have a drop late in the game. But because he had to play 64 snaps and only get rewarded with three targets.
I’m not trying to take anything away from them winning the game. I am trying to underscore just how bad of a loss this was for the Eagles. This wasn’t a case of “the other team makes plays, too.” The Eagles lost to a team that couldn’t score a single point off of four turnovers. A team that only scored 13 points and logged 4.6 yards per play. A team that converted just 25% of their third downs. A team that gave up 208 rushing yards. A team that just fired their laughably ineffective offensive coordinator and leaked that they won’t be bringing back their dinosaur general manager after the season. A team with one of the very worst records in the NFL since 2017.
The Giants stink.
And the Eagles lost to them.
The FOX broadcast didn’t even show a replay of Hurts’ first interception! What the hell are you doing!? Huge play in the game and there was a flagged that was picked up. Don’t you think, say, LITERALLY EVERYBODY WATCHING THE GAME might be interested in seeing a second look at that?! They didn’t even come back to it at a later point! Was someone asleep in the booth? What the hell happened here?
It’s not like this was a one-off mistake, either. I remember being annoyed with FOX’s lack of replays earlier this season.
Really love the Fox broadcast not showing any replays in this Eagles-Panthers game. That’s really cool.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 10, 2021
Get it together, FOX.
I had “10 to 7” (instead of “13 to 7”) as the final score in the recap article for hours until being alerted to my foolish error. Also, it took way too long to get this W-L-IDK article up. Really bad job by me.
I DON’T KNOW
WILD CARD FEVER
Losing to the Giants was costly.
The Eagles’ playoff odds dropped to 29.3%, according to Football Outsiders. That’s a 15.6% decrease.
The Eagles are currently 11th in the NFC playoff picture.
On the bright side, the Eagles have tiebreakers over two teams (NO, ATL) currently ahead of them. They also have the second easiest remaining schedule in the NFL. The Birds still might be able to get that No. 7 spot.
But there’s considerably less margin for error after losing a very winnable game. And there are obvious concerns about just how much noise the Eagles can make in the postseason even if they do get there.
#Eagles need Dallas to lose any 2 of the next 4 to regain control over fate to win NFC East. For the WC, Eagles need MIN to lose 2, SF to lose 3, or LAR to lose 3* (*-at least 2 to NFC teams). Eagles will *not* win tiebreaker with MIN if they beat NYJ next week. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/BoHL1CwjsK— Deniz Selman (@denizselman33) November 29, 2021