A loss this disappointing truly takes a team effort, with Wentz, Doug, and the defense sharing blame for a 27-17 letdown vs the Giants. Here’s four main takeaways:
The offense continues to be one of the worst in football
At this point I think our problems are pretty much pegged on this side of the ball. Doug won’t commit to the run game (there’s no reason Sanders can’t have 20-25 carries in this ballgame) nor does he put Wentz in good situations with his first down play-calling. On top of that Carson‘s decision-making is erratic, and he’s wildly inaccurate with the football. All of those problems made a cameo in this loss.
There’s simply no sense in defending the performance of either Doug or Wentz, and as I’ve said many times this season it’s not fair to divorce one from the other in terms of blame—Doug’s issues compound on Carson’s, and vice versa. We can debate whether or not the offense this year has been the product of cascading errors snowballing over the course of the season, or if this is just who both men are, but if you were hoping this matchup would flip the script on things heading into the second half that didn’t happen.
The defense (mostly) struggled, allowing too many big plays to a poor offensive unit
27 points is a total that I can live with, but 308 yards passing/rushing to Daniel Jones is tough to swallow. There were certainly moments in this matchup where the defense stepped up—as has been the case for much of the season—but allowing seven plays of 15+ yards is unacceptable against a bottom of the barrel offense like this one.
Big picture the defense has been league average in 2020—despite how much the fan base slanders that side of the ball to distract from Wentz—so I don’t think it’s useful to stress this too much outside of it being a bad performance on this day. The same excuse obviously can’t be made for the offense, so let’s not allow ourselves to be distracted here.
Miles Sanders was excellent in his return from injury—and he remains Doug’s ticket to save the offense
Sanders is really the lone bright spot from this loss, and he’s also the clear ticket for this offense to find itself in the second half of the season. 15 carries and 5 targets is inexcusable for someone averaging close to 6 yards per touch, and Pederson’s insistence on not feeding him the ball and revolving the offense around him is baffling—if not an outright plea to be fired.
He’s the best player on this offense by a long shot and that’s both an indictment on his talent and the lack of talent around the rest of the offense. Under normal circumstances maybe 30 touches per game isn’t advisable on a weekly basis, but the Eagles league-bottom offense shouldn’t be guided by normal circumstances. I hope I’m not reinventing the wheel by saying an offense needs to run through it’s most talented weapon, and if that player needs 30+ touches for them to move the ball consistently then so be it.
Despite all this, the Eagles are in the driver’s seat of the NFC East
At 3-5-1 the Eagles still sit two games ahead of the Giants (3-7) in the almighty loss-column. This means the Eagles can theoretically go 3-4 in their next seven games (Wash., Dallas, Cleveland, New Orleans, GB, Arizona, Seattle) and still finish ahead of the Giants if they were to go 3-3 and finish 6-10.
If you’re like me and do believe the Eagles have 3 wins in them, that means the Giants would need to go 4-2 to catch the Birds down the stretch. All of this is suffice to say that despite the loss, the NFC East picture is still pretty favorable to the Eagles.