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Eagles News: “Strong case as one of the worst defenses in football”

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 12/11/23.

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NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

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2023 NFL playoffs: Should the Chiefs, Eagles, Lions, Jags panic? - ESPN+
Let’s keep it simple: The Eagles’ defense is bad. Not bad by last year’s standards. Not bad by Philadelphia’s standards. Not bad by their expectations heading into the season. Not bad by the measure of other Super Bowl contenders. Over this six-game stretch that followed the win over the Dolphins, they have a strong case as one of the worst defenses in football. In the situations that matter most, the Eagles have come up wanting. Since the second Commanders game, Sean Desai’s defense ranks last in third-down conversion rate, allowing opposing teams to move the chains a league-high 54.8% of the time. They’ve also gone 8-for-14 on fourth downs. The Cowboys were right in that ballpark during Sunday’s comfortable victory, going 9-of-16 on third downs and adding a fourth-down conversion on their only try for good measure. Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense were 6-for-8 in the first half, allowing the Cowboys to get out to a 24-6 halftime lead. [...] Most disconcertingly, though, the pass defense feels broken. The 2022 defense approached league records with 70 sacks, and the pass pressure helped produce career seasons for James Bradberry and C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the secondary. There were concerns about how the defense would hold up with changes at the second and third levels, but the Eagles don’t really have a place to hang their hat right now. Over the past six games, they rank 30th in pressure rate, as they’ve bothered opposing quarterbacks just 24.0% of the time. Over that same stretch last season, they were pressuring opposing passers just under 35% of the time, which was the fifth-best mark. They posted a 12.7% sack rate from Week 8 to Week 14 last season, which was comfortably the best in football.

Josh Sweat voices Eagles’ defensive frustration after another woeful effort from Sean Desai’s unit - Inquirer
“We’re not where we’re supposed to be,” Sweat said later, still visibly despondent. “Me personally, on my side, I feel I definitely could have done better. But it’s too hard. I’m just not used to when we [apply] pressure well that we don’t take care of each other all the time.“ That’s what we need to be on better. Too many escapes. I’m just not used to it, not used to it, not used to it. I’m used to rushing so well against good opponents. It’s both ways. That’s why I’m frustrated. You know, obviously I got to watch the film. “But I’m not used to our group not taking care of each other when it comes to pressure.”Sweat, normally one of the more carefree Eagles, didn’t seem to be calling out any individual player or coach following yet another slow-starting performance by the defense. When you’ve lost by 20-plus points two Sundays in a row, it would be tough to point blame in one direction when so many are deserved.

The Eagles are a good team playing very badly - BGN
Not to make excuses, but this schedule has been the most difficult I can ever remember in Eagles’ history. The last stretch that remotely compares was in 2006, when Jeff Garcia had to navigate through three straight road games against divisional opponents in December in order to get to the postseason — and they did it. In the last seven weeks, these Eagles have played the Dolphins, Cowboys, Chiefs, Bills, 49ers and Cowboys again. Those opponents have a combined record of 44-20. That’s a winning percentage of .687. They’re a team with older players at key positions and it’s clear the physical and mental toll of this string of games has gassed them. They look like they’ve hit a brick wall, particularly the defense. Last night, they were on the field for 82 snaps. Against the 49ers, they played 72 snaps, the week before in the OT win against the Bills, an insane 95 snaps, and against the Chiefs were on the field for 79.

BGN Instant Reaction Show - Week 14: Eagles lose to Cowboys, 33-13 - BGN Radio
Jessi Taylor and Shane Haff unload their thoughts following the Eagles Week 14 loss to the Cowboys.

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Cowboys game - PhillyVoice
7) The ‘Vision’ Award: Jalen Hurts. Hurts struggled to see the field well last Sunday against the 49ers. It felt like he was better at getting the ball to the right spots against the Cowboys, but he also may have missed some opportunities. There was one play, for example, in which he appeared to have Brown running open down the field on a post route and if he saw it, it might have been a big play. Instead he threw incomplete to a well-covered Smith. As always, the tape will tell a more complete story. Hurts also took ownership of a deep throw to Smith on the run in the corner of the end zone. Whether it was a ball Smith should have caught or it was “off by inches” as Hurts claimed, the theme of the Eagles’ offense not hitting on as many explosive plays recently continued.

Bad Night in Big D - Iggles Blitz
The offense had a rough night. Give Dallas credit. They have a good defense. But boy, the Eagles offense deserves a lot of blame. Hurts didn’t have his best game. He had a bad fumble and made some poor decisions in the passing game. Hurts didn’t get enough help. DeVonta Smith played his worst game of the year. He had a couple of drops and also fumbled. AJ Brown also had a fumble. You aren’t going to win a first place showdown when your three best offensive players all have fumbles. Ugh. Fans and some media members are going to be playing the blame game. Was it the coordinators? Was it the offense? Was it the defense? Did Howie not bring in the right guys? And on and on. This was a team loss. The Eagles are in a funk right now. They make key mistakes and just don’t make plays. The coaches are not pushing the right buttons. Nick Sirianni was testy in his postgame press conference. I get the feeling he let the team know he wasn’t happy with their performance.

Roob’s Observations: Eagles have nightmare performance in lop-sided loss to Cowboys - NBCSP
3. They haven’t all been his fault. But 15 turnovers in 13 games for Jalen Hurts is definitely concerning. In his first three seasons, Hurts lost six fumbles on 2,316 snaps. This year he’s lost five in 883 snaps (plus Sunday night). So he’s gone from losing a fumble every 386 snaps to losing one every 176. So more than twice as often. Why is he fumbling so much? There are times Hurts tries to do too much with the ball in his hands, times he runs into traffic in the pocket trying to escape the rush, times he simply is unaware of defenders in the area. Sunday’s fumble was just a good play by safety Donovan Wilson stripping Hurts in traffic, but it can’t happen. The Cowboys had just taken a 7-0 lead, the Eagles had a nice drive going deep in Dallas territory and then that. When Hurts was dealing with that knee injury, he was staying out of harm’s way, taking a knee before he got hit if he was in the open field. And it made sense. As often as Hurts takes off and runs – both on called runs and scrambles – there’s just not a lot of good things that can come out of it. He’s just got to be more careful. But that’s not in his nature.

Jalen Hurts: Eagles need ‘honest evaluation’ after Cowboys loss. Fletcher Cox gave one - Delaware Online
No wonder Cox said it’s time to “really find out who the dudes are.” “I’ve been part of teams where the dudes in the locker room do something about it, and I’ve been part of teams where it kind of crumbles,” he said. “Now it’s time to see the real leadership and the real players, the guys that are elite on this team, myself included, step up and do something about it and get this team another win.” To which cornerback Darius Slay responded: “That’s how you find out who a team is by the adversity, when everything ain’t going your way. When all the (stuff) is good, and you’re just winning and whoopin’ ass, everyone is ‘Hoorah, hoorah.’ But when your back’s against the wall, who’s gonna step up?” So far, nobody. And that’s a problem.

What went wrong for the Eagles? There’s no ‘magic answer’ and they must prove they’re not ‘stuck’ - PHLY
Some players sat by their lockers with blank stares. Others changed quickly and filed to the busses for a long flight home. This is a group used to possessing a certain swagger, to being on the other side of games like Sunday’s 33-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. And the rare losses have been easy to explain, with something uncharacteristic that could be addressed in a meeting and fixed the following week. What once seemed uncharacteristic is developing into their features. Jalen Hurts likes to talk about the standard. What is that standard now? Because for the second consecutive week, the Eagles were embarrassed by a team that’s supposed to be in their weight class. Turns out, there’s a level lower than the humiliation felt in a loss to the 49ers last week. “This is something we’re going through,” Jalen Hurts said, “not something we’re stuck in.”

Stephon Gilmore: A.J. Brown calling me old lit a fire in me Sunday night - PFT
“I just didn’t like how he called me old at the beginning of the game,” Gilmore said, via the team’s website. “So it lit a fire in me a little bit. I was mad. The only thing I could do was show him I was still here, and I think I did that today. I’ve been doing this my whole career. Covering the best guy and following him. It’s exciting because you know the ball is coming your way. I get up for those types of moments.”

NFL Week 14 Game Recap: Dallas Cowboys 33, Philadelphia Eagles 13 - PFF
Rookie spotlight: According to PFF’s first review of the game film, Eagles interior defender Jalen Carter was held without a quarterback pressure for the first time in his young career. He likely won’t mind, though, as he took advantage of a Dak Prescott fumble to add a fumble-return touchdown to his Defensive Rookie of the Year case.

2023 NFL season, Week 14: What We Learned from Sunday’s games - NFL.com
Time for worry in Philly. The Cowboys aren’t strangers to blowout victories, and after Sunday, the Eagles are hardly foreign to blowout losses. A week after getting mollywhopped by the San Francisco 49ers, 42-19, Philly lost by 20 to its archrival. Lingering worries around the Eagles’ rush defense and rush offense continued to rear their heads, and Jalen Hurts struggled throughout, including being one of three Philadelphia players to lose a fumble. The Eagles would’ve clinched a playoff berth with a win on Sunday night; instead, they let the Cowboys jump up to first place in the NFC East. Philadelphia still has a path to the division title and the NFC’s top seed, but something must change. The Eagles didn’t score an offensive touchdown for the first time since their wild-card loss in the 2019 season. Philadelphia’s defense has been ravaged two weeks in a row by its fellow NFC heavyweights. There is cause for concern within the ranks of the reigning NFC champs.

10 thoughts on the Cowboys breezy 33-13 win over the Eagles on Sunday night - Blogging The Boys
2. SHUTTING DOWN THE EAGLES. The Eagles entered this game as the fourth-highest-scoring team in the league. They are top 10 in yards gained and only one other team has gained more first downs than the Eagles offense (it’s the Cowboys). But on this night, this highly-efficient offense couldn’t find the end zone. That’s right. For the first time all year, the Eagles’ offense failed to score a touchdown. The defense did get a touchdown after Dak Prescott was strip-sacked and the ball was recovered by Jalen Carter and taken 42 yards for the score, but as far as the Eagles offense went, no soup for them!

Devon Witherspoon suffered bruised ribs against 49ers - Field Gulls
Witherspoon’s injury is officially day-to-day. It is the same injury that did not sideline DK Metcalf earlier this season, but did have him limited and clearly in pain in the early part of the season. Carroll did not rule Witherspoon out nor available for Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

NFC playoff picture: Don’t tell Saquon Barkley Giants aren’t in the race - Big Blue View
Realistically, the Giants are currently seeded No. 11 in the NFC. The 6-6 Green Bay Packers, Monday night’s opponent, hold the seventh and final playoff spot. Barkley, though, doesn’t want to hear about the Giants being the longest of long shots. “I’ve been saying it, and I always believe it. I know it sounds like we talk all the time, and it just sounds like I’m just beating a dead horse when I’m saying it, but I truly, truly believe that,” Barkley said of being in the playoff hunt. “I’m one of those guys that if I’m in a fight and I got my butt kicked for 11 rounds, the 12th round, in my head, if I still compete, if I could knock you out and get the win, then that’s how it’s going to happen. So, I kept saying until we’re completely out of this thing I still believe. Even when you’re out of this thing, you’ve still got a job to do. It’s not too hard to look at. I don’t think it’s too hard to figure it out. That’s how I look at it and that’s what I firmly believe in.”

Patrick Mahomes shouldn’t be mad at the refs, he should be mad at Kadarius Toney and himself - SB Nation
There’s a tendency to want to find someone to blame when things go wrong, especially when it comes to protecting ourselves or our friends. Patrick Mahomes did just this in the wake of the game-defining offensive offsides penalty on Kadarius Toney in Bills-Chiefs, which erased the go-ahead touchdown and effectively sealed the game. Mahomes has been blasting the referees, as has Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid. Their argument is a little different, but is fundamentally couched in not receiving a warning prior to flagging Toney. The quarterback wanted the players to decide the game, not the refs — but here’s the problem: They already did when Toney lined up a almost a half yard past the ball, stared at it, and somehow didn’t realize (or care) that he was offsides.

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