Birds Roundup Week 3: Making sense of an embarrassing loss to Dallas

That was pathetic. The offensive play calling, the quarterback play, the defense’s inability to stop Dallas in either facet of the game, the bone headed penalties. From top to bottom, this was an embarrassing loss for the Eagles.

There’s a lot to discuss from this Monday night contest, so let’s jump right into it.

Jalen Hurts looked overmatched

For the first time in his young NFL career, Jalen Hurts looked completely overmatched on Monday night.

His first turnover of the night came on the first drive, where he under threw Jalen Reagor on a go route down the sideline. This play has a chance to be a touchdown if Hurts throws it to the outside shoulder of Reagor and puts some more mustard on it, but he throws it to the absolute worst spot, short and inside. Result: interception.

His second interception of the night was even worse. Staring down DeVonta Smith from the moment the ball is snapped, Trevon Diggs is reading Hurts the whole way. Smith falling down doesn’t help and he may have been able to prevent the touchdown had he stayed on his feet, but this was an interception either way. Just a terrible decision and pass from Hurts.

I especially disliked this moment between Hurts and Smith following the play. Hurts asks Smith what happened, he says “I fell”, and Hurts rolls his eyes and walks away. We’ve talked a lot about Hurts’ leadership qualities, but that’s not great leadership right there. That wasn’t Smith’s fault, it was getting intercepted either way.

The two interceptions were just the tip of the iceberg for Hurts. He routinely missed wide open receivers, held onto the ball too long, and failed to diagnose what the defense was giving him.

Honestly, it seems like defenses are starting to figure this guy out. He likes to run when his first read isn’t there, so Dallas put a spy on him all night and limited his rushing yardage. He doesn’t trust his arm strength to make throws across the middle or into tight windows, so he bails at the first sign of trouble. Hurts is a limited passer, and teams know that.

I’m anxious to see if this is correctable for Hurts, but it’s hard to imagine these issues being corrected over night.

Terrible play calling from Sirianni

I’m not sure what the game plan was heading into this contest, but it appeared that Sirianni thought passing the ball all over the yard was the key to victory. His explanation during his post game presser was something along the lines of ,”we knew we needed to keep up with them on the scoreboard, so we felt compelled to throw the ball,” but that just doesn’t make sense considering who your signal caller is.

Besides, saying you need to “keep up with Dallas’ offense” sounds like a loser’s mentality. The objective is to score more points than your opponent, not keep up with them. Where’s the “Dawg Mentality” with that one, Nick?

The offense lacked any sort of rhythm all night. And while the passes were there for Hurts, the complete abandonment of the run game was baffling. I don’t care who you have at quarterback, handing the ball off just three total times is unacceptable. Sure the game got out of hand, but it was just a two possession game heading into halftime. Despite what it may have felt like, a good sustained touchdown drive would have stopped the bleeding and gave the team a chance.

This felt like an offensive game plan straight out of 2020, but it was even worse. How many times did we say that helping your struggling quarterback with a balanced attack could right the ship? Not to mention you have an explosive back in Miles Sanders in the backfield, who had a 20+ yard gain on his first carry and then only touched the ball one more time.

Trying to make sense of what Sirianni was trying to do isn’t even worth the time. It was a bad game plan. Point blank period.

Brandon Graham is sorely missed on defense

The Eagles run defense has been stout in recent years, and through two games it’s been solid. But they got completely gashed on Monday night to the tune of 160 yards on 41 attempts. Dallas’ offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage all night and Jonathan Gannon’s defense had no answers for it.

Yeah, the linebackers didn’t do their jobs. They’re a below average group of linebackers at best. But the defensive line couldn’t get any penetration. It felt like every time the Cowboys handed it off, whether it was to Ezekiel Elliot or Tony Pollard, they weren’t touched until they were at least 3-4 yards past the line of scrimmage.

The pass rush still showed up, generating nine total pressures, two sacks, and two quarterback hits on the night. But the absence of Brandon Graham was palpable. Not only because he’s a great all around edge player, but his leadership was missed Monday night. When the defense felt like they just couldn’t catch a break, his energy was needed.

Let’s talk about the penalties

After Monday’s game, the Eagles lead the league in penalties with 35. Not only is that the most in the NFL, that’s the most the Eagles have ever recorded through three games. The previous record was held by the 1954 Eagles who had 33 through three games.

Eight more penalties than any other team in the league is just wild. And that all falls on Sirianni. This team is so undisciplined it’s hard to watch at times. They routinely shoot themselves in the foot with stupid penalties.

We can talk about how bad the play calling was, but this undisciplined brand of football is far more concerning for Sirianni. If he doesn’t clean this up, it could be a one and done year for this coaching staff.

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