Last night’s game was emotionally draining. This season has been utterly disappointing. Being an Eagles fan is exhausting.
Those are just a few of my thoughts following what possibly could have been the nail in the coffin for the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles as they fell to the Cowboys 27-20 last night. I don’t even know where to start with this performance, so let’s just jump into it.
- Another Slow Start Dooms the Offense
Another week, another slow start for Doug Pederson’s offense. What a surprise. It’s starting to become the ‘new norm’ this season (see what I did there?).
It’s a reflection on the coaching and preparation that’s gone into each week. Doug and company had two weeks to prepare for a team who was coming off their worst loss of the season not even a full week prior, playing against a defense that allowed the Titans to convert on 11 of 14 3rd down attempts. It’s unacceptable.
While a lot of the blame falls on Doug’s shoulders, Wentz isn’t innocent here. His bone headed interception on the second drive of the game set the tone for how the entire first half would play out. This is the second game in a row where Wentz has gotten off to a slow start and turned it over in the first quarter. He needs to be better. And again, it’s a reflection on the preparation that’s going into each week of practice.
These slow starts lead to the offense having to play catch up for the rest of the game. There were 44 called passes to only 16 rushing attempts. I understand the running back situation isn’t ideal, and nobody has really broken out as the lead guy, but you can’t just neglect the run game all together. Doug has done this throughout the year and I really don’t understand it. Last year the Eagles offense was balanced and it ran much more smooth. The balance has just not been there this season at all and we’re seeing the results of it every week.
The offense always seems to find some semblance of life in the second half, but by that time they’ve already dug themselves into a hole that’s too deep to get out of. And once the offense starts rolling, it always seems like the defense starts to unravel. Which leads me to my next point.
- What a Second Half Collapse by Schwartz’s Defense.
A lot of fans and media pundits have pinned the Eagles’ struggles this season on the defense, but throughout this season it’s really been the offense who’s let us down. And while the offense did let us down in the first half of this game, the defense deserves just as much blame for their pitiful performance in the second half.
Sure, the secondary is in complete shambles right now, but it doesn’t even seem like the effort is there for anyone on that defense. All we needed was one play, one turnover, one sack towards the end of the game to try and salvage a victory, and the defense just couldn’t get it done.
On their last five possessions of the game, Dallas had three scoring drives of 75 yards or more. Yup, you read that right. The Dak Prescott-led Cowboys did that to a Fletcher Cox-led defense. Embarrassing.
The defense really started to lose its way on the Cowboys’ final drive of the first half. After the Eagles kicked a field goal to make the score 6-3 with 2:08 left in the half and the Cowboys about to get the ball with no timeouts, there was no way Dak was going to lead his offense down the field to extend their lead before the half, right?
Especially after he got sacked for 13 yards on first down with 1:05 left. This eventually led to a 3rd and 15 attempt, and it was so obvious that the Cowboys were just going to run a screen or a quick run to make the Eagles burn their last timeout. And that’s exactly what they did, throwing a quick wide receiver screen to Gallup, who didn’t get touched until he was 25 yards down to field and into Eagles territory. That led to an eventual Zeke Elliot touch down and the Eagles going into the half down by 10 instead of just three.
There’s just no excuse for that.
Schwartz had to have known that the ultra-conservative Cowboys offense weren’t actually going to take a shot on that 3rd down and 15 attempt. And yet, he ran his favorite third down defense: lineup all our worst tacklers at the first down line and hope one of them makes a first down saving tackle. The Eagles are the only team who run that kind of defense in the NFL, and last night was just another indication as to why. It doesn’t work. Please, stop running it.
It just seems like there was no adjustment in the second half. Drive after drive the Cowboys kept doing the same thing and it kept getting them first down after first down. The Cowboys run such a basic offense too, which makes this all the more frustrating. If Schwartz couldn’t find a way to contain Dak down the stretch, have fun trying to contain the red-hot Saints next week in New Orleans.
- Agholor Can be a Deep Threat if Doug Allows Him to be.
We’ve been clamoring for a deep threat in this offense all season, and I’m a believer that Nelson Agholor can fill that role. He has the speed to take the top off a defense and we saw that with his clutch 51-yard catch to set up a late game score to Ertz. I understand that he’s primarily a slot guy, but with the addition of Golden Tate, that should allow Agholor to move around the formation more and exploit matchups.
I’d like to see Agholor get more opportunities like he did last night. He’s a very up-and-down player, but when he’s on, he might be the most dangerous weapon on the Eagles offense.
- Can we Stop the Choreographed Celebrations Please?
There’s a time and place for team celebrations. It doesn’t seem right to do in a game where you’ve struggled offensively all night and score your first touch down in the third quarter.
It just comes off as ignorant and cocky; it’s like they don’t know how bad they were playing. It’s just embarrassing really.
It seemed like they put more preparation into their celebrations than they did into the actual game plan. This is the NFL and you’re a professional athlete, start acting like it. If I don’t do anything at work for half of my shift, and then start doing work once my boss tells me repeatedly, I don’t go around high fiving other employees because I finally did what I was supposed to be doing all along. Get a grip.
- There’s Still a Silver Lining Here.
I know it feels like the seasons over, but mathematically we still have a chance at winning this division. And believe it or not, we still control our own destiny. We’re currently two games back of the division leading Redskins and a half game back of the Cowboys. We still face the Redskins twice and the Cowboys one more time. With seven games left on the schedule, anything is possible.
With the way the Eagles have played this year, it’s really hard for me to find any hope that they’ll turn it around. They haven’t even won back-to-back games this season, and I’m supposed to expect that with seven games left they can win at least five or six of those? I just don’t see it happening. They’ve done nothing this year to lead me to believe they can pull it off.
This season has been something out of the Twilight Zone. A Super Bowl winning team shouldn’t look this bad, even if they are suffering from injuries and a Super Bowl hangover.
Maybe it’s the injuries, maybe it’s the coaching, maybe it’s the lack of fire, maybe it’s the way Howie built this team for 2018. I really don’t know. This season has been gut wrenching to say the least.
But it’s not over, and I’m praying that this team can find a way to turn it around.