They say ‘better late than never’ but never late is better. Nevertheless, time for some closing thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles’ embarrassing Week 3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys beat the Eagles by 20 points. Philly’s garbage time touchdown makes the score look closer than it really was. The Birds got their butts kicked in what’s becoming all too common of a trend at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles’ last three trips to Dallas:
2021: 41-21 loss
2020: 37-17 loss
2019: 37-10 loss
I’d say it’s not a good thing to be outscored by a combined 67 points in the last three road games against your biggest division rival.
The Cowboys’ win over the Eagles has them on track as likely NFC East champions. Dallas has one of the easier remaining schedules in the NFL.
Rest-of-Season NFL Strength of Schedule based on my current evaluation of each team— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 28, 2021
Green = Easy
Red = Hard pic.twitter.com/1xcuqM449S
Easily the Eagles’ best player this season, Hargrave has consistently brought the juice. His rush caused the fumble that Fletcher Cox recovered in the end zone for Philly’s first touchdown.
With 14 games left to play, Hargrave needs just three more sacks to beat his previous season-high of 6.5. He also needs just three more quarterback hits to beat his previous season-high of 8. Dude has been a beast. Just a shame when his efforts are being overshadowed by losses.
Not going to say the Eagles win if BLG is out there but his absence certainly hurt. Especially in run defense. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott combined for two touchdowns and 155 yards on 28 carries (5.5 average). The Eagles are finding out replacing Graham isn’t going to be easy.
Sanders is a winner because he must be so well-rested after barely playing! Snark aside, he really was effective in limited touches. His two carries (lol. two!) went for 27 yards and he had three catches for 28 yards. Obviously needs to get more touches than this.
Oh, so the Eagles’ only Super Bowl winning head coach wasn’t the only issue with this franchise?
The Eagles allowed 40+ points once in 86 games under their former defensive coordinator. The Eagles have allowed 40+ points once in three games under their new defensive coordinator.
Watkins’ playing time has increased each week and, really, it should only continue to go up. So should his targets. The ball was only thrown his way twice in Dallas, which isn’t enough. He had one of the Eagles’ few highlights with his impressive leaping contested catch. That play wasn’t an anomaly; it’s something we saw him do more than once in training camp.
MOSSED. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/K1i1ln3JYW— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) September 28, 2021
He’s been consistently good as a gunner on punt coverage.
BRANDON LEE GOWTON
For as much as I hated seeing the Eagles getting blown out by the Cowboys, I much preferred to see it happen among people I care about as opposed to watching it alone. Thanks much to everyone who came out to BGN’s watch party at Pistolas Del Sur. A terrible loss to the Cowboys is just one bad night while friends are forever. Or some sappy crap like that. (Special shouts to Shamus [who organized the event!], Ashley, Rich, Patrick, Jim, Dave, Zach, Josh, Sam, Zach, Holden, Elizabeth, Charlie, Dr. Pizza, Billy, Lawrence, Casey, and Joe.)
The Eagles are now 1-2 with the following games coming up next:
- vs. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
- at Carolina Panthers (3-0)
- vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
- at Las Vegas Raiders (3-0)
So, two teams who are currently undefeated and the two teams from last season’s Super Bowl. Not ideal in that the Eagles are likely staring 1-6 or 2-5 in the face.
Things could get easily worse before they get better.
I have to say, I’m tired of the Eagles’ head coach always being viewed as The Problem with the team. The head coach has received a disproportionate amount of blame for Philly’s struggles in recent years.
That being said, no one can defend Sirianni’s performance on Monday night. He said his game plan was to beat the Cowboys in a shootout, which is baffling. Anyone can see that Philly doesn’t have the offensive firepower to outpace Dallas’s scoring ability. A better plan of attack would’ve been to control the clock and play keep away.
Instead, Sirianni ran the ball just THREE times against the Cowboys. Three!
The Eagles ran just three running plays for RBs yesterday. That's the fewest carries by a team's RBs in any game in our database— ProFootballReference (@pfref) September 28, 2021
Running the ball is too often viewed as this magical panacea. In this specific instance, though, everyone can admit the Eagles needed to run more than they did. It’s crazy how they didn’t try to take advantage of a lighter Cowboys defensive front that was really banged up.
The issues with Sirianni went beyond a non-existent run game. There’s evidence to suggest he didn’t put Jalen Hurts in the best position to succeed:
Hurts in the first two weeks of the season with any kind of motion: 10 of 12 for 93 yards, 27 air yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a QB rating of 138.5. https://t.co/Y0GrNxQVmt— Doug Farrar ✍ (@NFL_DougFarrar) September 28, 2021
There were also continued issues with discipline as the Eagles lead the league in penalties:
The record for the most penalties in a season is 163, by the Raiders in 2011. The Eagles are on pace for 198.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) September 28, 2021
And getting back to what he said about feeling the need to outpace the Cowboys, well, then why wasn’t he more aggressive on fourth down?
*sigh*— mid-life crisis actor (@Southern_Philly) September 28, 2021
Love what Nick Sirianni is building up there in Philadelphia pic.twitter.com/GVJqe4y3FT
Sirianni has just three games under his belt as a head coach and primary play-caller. Perhaps he’ll improve with time. But that much is not merely a given. He’ll continue to be under scrutiny until he produces better results.
I went on a bit of a rant about Hurts since I think some are going too easy on him after this loss. Yes, he’s young and can improve in some areas. But, as can be said with Sirianni, “growing pains” can be mistaken for lasting deficiencies. Hurts has passing limitations in the form of arm strength and accuracy issues that might not go away.
This should have been a pretty easy pitch and catch. Hurts just threw behind Goedert. He’s really struggling with ball placement tonight. pic.twitter.com/LgJ3xOWMHs— Patrick (@76Iggles) September 28, 2021
Another concerning aspect to Hurts’s game is how he hasn’t been seeing the field well. He’s leaving too many plays out there.
I'm all for giving a QB time to develop and go through the growing pains.— Thomas R. Petersen (@thomasrp93) September 29, 2021
But killing drives by missing wide open plays like this in back to back weeks is making me lose my mind...#Eagles pic.twitter.com/icTkaj0KHb
I find it very hard to believe Hurts is going to progress to the point where he’s one of the NFL’s very best quarterbacks. It’s easier to envision him becoming a Tyrod Taylor-tier player. But that’s not a guy you ideally have as the cornerstone for a team that’s competing for a championship.
After facing Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo in the first two games, Gannon saw his biggest test against Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense. And he sure didn’t have answers to stop an admittedly formidable arsenal.
I’ll let good friend Noah Becker take this one:
Hitting on Jordan Mailata and Josh Sweat and Quez Watkins is nice and all. But you can’t just waste primary resources like this team has. The Eagles need more talent.
Perhaps something to think about when the head coach is being portrayed as the primary offender.
Remember how Nelson Agholor was a disaster with the Eagles paying him $9.4 million on his fifth-year option? Yeah, that wasn’t fun. It’s also not fun to see the Eagles pick up Barnett’s $10 million fifth-year option* only for him to have zero sacks and two quarterback hits despite leading all Philly edge rushers in snaps played.
Barnett also continues to commit frustrating penalties. He unwisely jumped offside to help the Cowboys convert a much more manageable 3rd-and-2 instead of 3rd-and-7. Barnett has just 1.5 fewer career penalties (18) than sacks (19.5). Not impossible that the penalties will overtake the sacks within a few weeks.
i’m dead Derek Barnett got a penalty and you can read the Eagles HC lips— Terrence Murphy Comedy (@PhirstPharaoh) September 28, 2021
“it’s always him” pic.twitter.com/INbtEF1PyV
*The Eagles later restructured Barnett’s contract by adding avoid years to lower his 2021 cap hit. This maneuver made him untradeable this season and puts the Eagles on the hook for over $7.2 million in 2022 cap space after he’s likely (?) gone. Fun.
Dickerson has really struggled in relief of Brandon Brooks.
Landon Dickerson has allowed 9 pressures on 73 pass block snaps this season by @PFF’s charting. He has the worst Pass Blocking Efficiency in the NFL. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 28, 2021
In fairness, Dickerson didn’t have a full offseason. We saw how much of a difference that made for Hargrave. Maybe Dickerson will eventually turn out to be pretty good.
In the meantime, it’s fair to wonder if it was the best idea for the Eagles to draft him at No. 37 overall. The injury-prone Dickerson is already banged up; he was limited in Wednesday’s practice with a hip issue.
Wilson’s playing time has decreased each week. It’s not exactly surprising to see he’s one of Pro Football Focus’s worst-graded linebackers. He has one of the highest missed tackle rates in the league and it’s not like he’s excelled in coverage, which is supposed to be his strong suit.
Another disappointing free agent signing. Kerrigan has failed to log a stat in 94 snaps played. Failing to make an impact.
Really sucks for Seumalo that his season is already over. Questions about his durability moving forward could be raised. He’ll enter 2022 with just 12 out of his last possible 33 games played.
There was a lot of excitement when the Eagles took Wallace with a Day 3 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s failed to ever justify the hype. Now he’s hurt again.
BRANDON LEE GOWTON
If you don’t listen to the NFC East Mixtape, you’re probably wondering why I have a Blogging The Boys logo as my Twitter avatar. Well, my friends, I’m an idiot who lost a bet to my co-host RJ Ochoa. Had the Eagles won, he would’ve had to sing the fight song. Instead, now I have to deal with this until the weekend.
The Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 28, 2021
I am Brandon Lee Gowton and I would just like to let @BloggingTheBoys and @rjochoa know that I am sorry. pic.twitter.com/IjAzLdwId0
I DON’T KNOW
Second week in a row that Cox has made this section. He recovered the fumble that Hargrave caused for a touchdown, which was good. He also deserves some grace after dealing with an illness that apparently prevented him from eating for four days last week.
Still, the Eagles’ highest paid player is a guy with just one sack and one quarterback hit in his last seven games. It’s not ideal. And it raises the question: when, if ever, are we going to see him take over a game again in a big way?
To be clear, Dillard is closer to making the “Winners” section than the “Losers” section. But he ends up in IDK because I’m just a hater who can’t say anything nice about him! Nah. Just getting ahead of your off-base accusation.
Dillard legitimately played well. He allowed just two pressures on 58 snaps, finishing as the second-highest graded player on the Eagles’ offense by PFF.
It’s just hard to know if this performance is meaningful for Dillard moving forward. He went up against a Cowboys defensive line that was unusually depleted. He was facing Micah Parsons, a 245-pound linebacker playing defensive end, for a good chunk of the game. As my BGN Radio co-host Jimmy Kempski pointed out, the Cowboys didn’t nearly attack him as much as they could’ve. Given Dillard’s struggles anchoring against the bull rush, it’s surprised Dallas didn’t try to exploit that. Then again, it’s not like they needed to to win.
Let’s see how Dillard holds up against stiffer competition before the “See! He’s not as bad as he was made out to be!” victory laps start to take place.
(If I’m the Eagles, I look to trade him as soon as Mailata is back. His value might never been higher than right now.)
Smith has been targeted 21 times through his first three games. He only has 11 receptions for 115 yards (10.5 average) and one touchdown. In fairness, he reasonably would’ve had a bigger Week 2 if Hurts didn’t underthrow him on multiple deep attempts where Smith had clearly beaten the defense. Still, need to see more out of the No. 10 overall pick. Smith currently ranks fifth to last in yards per route run this season (1.04), which isn’t great.
Perhaps Reagor would’ve had a touchdown that counted this time if Hurts didn’t woefully underthrow him on the Eagles’ first drive. Alas, it didn’t happen. Reagor actually finished this game with the most targets (8), receptions (5), and yards (53) of any wide receiver. But a lot of that production came when the game was already decided. If you take out Reagor’s garbage time stats* this season, he has eight receptions for 40 yards and zero touchdowns. He also ranks as one of the NFL’s least efficient punt returners with a 3.3 average.
*Defined as the Eagles either up or down 20+ points.