An Eagles vs. Cowboys Haiku
The Season is done
Lose now for draft position
Please, just make it stop
The Eagles offense looked good in the first quarter. Unfortunately, the game is four quarters long. The Eagles backup defense was abused by the Cowboys backup quarterback while the Eagles backup quarterback failed to return the favor. Let’s dive in and talk about some of the individual performances in today’s penultimate edition of Stock Up/Stock Down
Trust in Jake Elliott
The Eagles declined to let Elliott attempt a 57 yard field goal and a 59 yard field goal in the first half. They went for it on 4th and 15 rather than letting Elliott attempt a 42 yard field goal in the second half. You can argue the 2nd half call was because of the deficit, but there were still 14 minutes left to play and cutting the deficit from 13 to 10 isn’t inconsequential. The 2nd half call aside though, Doug Pederson of 2017, 2018, or 2019 lets Elliott attempt those 2 first half kicks. Doug Pederson of 2020 doesn’t. I can’t say that I blame him.
In last week’s game review, I defended Jacquet and said that he played better than most people thought. There is no defending his play this week. He looked exactly like you would expect a UDFA to. I would still play him next week because a) what do you have to lose? and b) who else do you even have? But he was awful on Sunday.
Get a CB2 in here ASAP. pic.twitter.com/uWFoXqsqzB— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) December 28, 2020
While Michael Jacquet has an excuse, Nickell Robey-Coleman does not. In a must-win game, NRC looked like he would rather be anywhere else. He routinely avoided taking on blocks, made little to no effort to tackle ball carriers, and looked totally confused that a wheel route was an actual thing a receiver could run. The Eagles should cut him before week 17 to send a message that that type of lackadaisical effort won’t be tolerated.
The defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed on Sunday. While you can blame it on the personnel on the field, it ultimately falls on the coach to make adjustments, something Schwartz was unwilling to do. He continued to sit in man coverage and allow Jacquet to be exploited time and time again. When your players aren’t as good as the other guy’s it is up to you to throw them something they don’t expect. Schwartz had 2 options on Sunday: keep playing man and give up big plays OR mix it up a little and maybe, just maybe give up a few less big plays. Schwartz chose option #1.
1st Quarter Leads
What was the most irrational thing you thought after the Eagles went up 14-3? Don’t want to answer? Fine, I’ll go first:
#Eagles up 11 and Panthers up 13 and I’m over here planning my spread for the playoffs in 2 weeks.— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) December 27, 2020
Yeah, about that. The Eagles proceeded to go 3 and out on the next possession, running into a heavy box on 3 straight plays and then the defense gave up a touchdown. That seems about right.
Defense totally collapsing and bleeding points 🤜🏻🤛🏻 offense going 3 and out— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) December 27, 2020
The #Eagles version of complimentary football.
The Eagles led two games by 10 points after the first quarter this year [Washington & Dallas] and lost both by 10 or more points.— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) December 28, 2020
They're the first NFL team in 36 years to do that twice in a season.
That takes some skill.
Hey Siri, what is the record for most false starts in an #NFL game?— Shane Haff (@HAFFnHAFF_TPL) December 28, 2020
The Eagles couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot with false start penalties. Every QB has a different cadence. But this shouldn’t be an issue anymore after three weeks. The offense has so many hurdles to overcome without constantly moving backward due to penalties.
Prime Time Games
For some unknown reason, the NFL flexed the Eagles matchup with the Football Team to Sunday Night Football next week. That game will likely feature the Football Team’s 4th string QB against the Eagles’ 8th and 9th string cornerbacks. Riveting, must-see TV.
Rookies Named Jalen
The Eagles’ first 2 draft picks were named Jalen. Both picks went against what the fan base wanted (Justin Jefferson in the 1st and literally anyone else in the 2nd). Both guys stunk on Sunday. Now, to be fair to Jalen Hurts, there is some context needed that we will get into below.
Jalen Reagor however was flat out bad. Reagor consistently runs bad routes, demonstrates poor eye discipline, and shows a general lack of effort on the field that can be traced back to his TCU tape. You should be hungry to prove your worth when you are a rookie first round pick. Reagor looks like he can’t wait to get to the offseason so he can play Madden on the TV instead of real football on an NFL field.
Likewise, Jalen Hurts struggled on Sunday, but not for lack of effort. Hurts started the game on fire, completing 9 of 12 passes for 178 yards and 1 TD in the first half. In the 2nd half, he struggled mightily, completing only 55% of his passes and tossing 2 interceptions. This isn’t a problem that is isolated to Sunday’s performance either. In his 3 starts, there has been a stark contrast between the Hurts of the first half and the Hurts of the second half.
|Completion %||YPA||TD||INT||Passer Rating|
Hurts struggles to stay productive once the opening game script is done and defenses have seen him in action. Whether this is a product of his inability to run a full NFL offense or the coaching staff preventing him from doing so remains to be determined, but the narrative that he is the savior of the franchise is vastly overblown.
Beyond the Numbers
To be clear, I don’t feel any differently about Hurts the player after Sunday’s game than I did after the Saints game or the Cardinals game. I still see the same things from Hurts on repeat: half-field reads, throws with anticipation, and a tendency to bail from the pocket when it isn’t necessary.
On a key 3rd down above, Jalen Hurts breaks the pocket and has Miles Sanders right in front of him wide open to pick up the first down and somehow misses him.
On the interception that ultimately sealed the game above, Hurts bails from the pocket early creating pressure where there is none. This is essentially a 2 man rush and there is no one near him, but he rolls out into pressure from the spy and tosses an interception. Now, in fairness to him, nobody was open and given the game situation a field goal wasn’t an option. But it is still a bad process from the QB.
It isn’t fair to evaluate Wentz and Hurts the same. Hurts is a rookie making his 3rd start. Wentz is a 5-year vet. But it is becoming increasingly clear that QB isn’t the only issue and perhaps not even in the top 3 biggest issues facing this team.
As it stands now, the Eagles have the 6th pick in the upcoming draft. They could get as high as #3 overall or fall as low as #10 overall based on next week’s results. Regardless of how it shakes out, the Eagles will be looking at a top 10 pick come April, which makes mock draft season that much more fun.
Big Play Slay
Darius Slay finally made a big play! Slay has been solid as a CB1 this year but hasn’t quite lived up to the billing of his nickname. On Sunday though, he made a huge interception that gave the offense another chance. Most astonishing of all, the interception came on…
Inverted Cover 2
Remember when I bashed Jim Schwartz for sticking in straight man coverage? Well, it turns out he switched it up on a play, going to his favorite “get burned for a 50 yard TD” defense in inverted cover 2. And on that play, Darius Slay undercut the route for a TD. The Eagles have now called Inverted Cover 2 eighteen times this season and given up 17 TDs while recording 1 INT. Given that it is the only defense that a defensive back has gotten an interception out of this year, I think it should be the new base defense in 2021.*
*I totally made up those stats and the final sentence of the paragraph is total sarcasm. I thought I should let you know in a footnote since you couldn’t see the look on my face as I typed it.
Grayland Arnold, Marcus Epps, Michael Jacquet, Joe Bachie, and Rudy Ford combined to play 209 snaps on Sunday. None of them should be on a roster in the NFL, and yet they are. It truly is a story that proves dreams can come true.
Jordan Mailata has continued to play very well as the Eagles left tackle this season. He is at his best on the move, so the Eagles frequently call rushing plays allowing him to pull across the formation and engage defenders at full speed. He still struggles against speed rushers on the edge but has demonstrated a lot of growth throughout the season. I don’t know if Mailata is the left tackle of the future, but with both him and Dillard on the roster next season the Eagles can be reasonably confident that the position will be adequately filled, allowing them to focus on other areas of need (of which there are many).
There can only be one starting quarterback in Philadelphia next season and so when one of them has a bad game the other one sees his stock go up. Carson Wentz played terrible this season, but anything that makes the Eagles more uncertain about Hurts potentially buys him an offseason to get right and come back strong.
DeSean Jackson is Back!!!!
It was a beautiful sight watching DeSean haul in an 81 yard TD pass, sprint to the opposite pylon, and then summersault into the endzone. That singular play prompted a lot of non-sense on Twitter, such as this gem:
Every single person that has slandered DeSean the past year and actively rooted for him to be cut better be absolutely silent right now pic.twitter.com/xVwCA6oUzv— Eagles Fan Problems (@EagleFanProbs) December 27, 2020
It was a fun play, don’t get me wrong. But it was also the only catch he had on the day because he injured himself on the play (surprise surprise) and left the game. Assuming DeSean is cut in the offseason, he will have been paid $18 million over the last 2 years to have just over 300 total receiving yards in that time. I love DeSean Jackson, but he needs to hang it up. After all, what could be a better last play in his NFL career than an 81 yard TD against the Dallas Cowboys?