For 28 minutes and 23 seconds of game time, it was as if the football gods had heard our prayers and were bringing redemption to 2020. The offense was humming, scoring on each of their first 2 drives. The defense was on fire, allowing only 1 first down on the first 3 drives for the Football Team. But in the 24th second of the 28th minute, the football gods laughed at our tomfoolery as a portal to the football hell that Eagles fans have been living in since 2017 was opened and the team was sucked in once again.
You all know what happened from there: the game slowly spiraled out of control as the Washington Football Team ripped off 24 unanswered points and came from behind to hand the Eagles their first 0-1 start in the Doug Pederson Era. Rather than rehash the play by play, I want to zoom out and give some context on some individual performances from Sunday.
Ertz has made waves this week, whining to everybody with a microphone about his contract situation and getting into heated arguments about the aforementioned contract after practice. If you are going to to go public with contract drama, you better make sure you do 2 things: have the facts correct and prove your worth on the field. Ertz did neither. While fellow TE Dallas Goedert put up 101 yards on 8 receptions with a TD, Zach Ertz put up 18 yards on 3 receptions with a touchdown and dropped a game-sealing, wide-open 4th down pass.
Performance aside, Ertz turned down an extension this offseason that would have made him the highest-paid TE in the NFL at the time. So spare me the pity party and go play football. If Ertz really wants to remain in Philly he better kick it into high gear, because if he doesn’t there is another TE behind him on the depth chart that looks primed for a breakout year.
Wentz looked unshakable in the beginning of the game, completing 14 of his first 18 passes for 174 yards and 2 TDs. After that, he completed only 8 of his next 21 passes for 71 yards while throwing 2 interceptions and losing a fumble. I can live with the interceptions. Wentz is working out timing issues with rookie WRs without the benefit of a full offseason. What I can’t live with is the complete lack of awareness in the pocket. Wentz is entering his 5th year in the NFL. The biggest issue from day 1 was ball security and pocket awareness. Can you honestly say that Wentz has taken strides there?
Behind a shaky offensive line (more on that in a moment), Wentz’s average intended air yards was the highest in the NFL. In what universe does that make sense? His completion percentage above expectation was -11.3%, good for 2nd worst in the league during week 1 (Dwayne Haskins was the worst). His 14.2 QBR was the worst in the league. Yeah, Wentz didn’t get any help. The offensive line was bad, but Wentz made them look worse than they really were. His performance on Sunday was the worst game I have seen him play as a pro.
JJAW had a great training camp. That translated to 0 targets in week 1.
Doug Pederson was flat out bad on Sunday. The Eagles had a 17 point lead late in the 2nd quarter of the game and yet they ended the game with 15 total rushing attempts vs 50 dropback passing attempts. Granted the Eagles don’t have the best running backs after Miles Sanders (more on that in a moment as well), but you have to try something. Pederson made very little effort to get the ball out of Carson’s hands quickly and the few times he did it was a predictable screen pass that everyone saw coming. Remember the manufactured touches we were sold on with Jalen Reagor? Yeah, Doug didn’t either.
But the worst decision of the day for Doug was his call to go for it on 4th down and 3 at their own 42-yard line in the 3rd quarter. I love Doug’s aggression, but sometimes you have to put the analytics away and use common sense. The offense was struggling mightily but the defense was clinging to a 3 point lead. Rather than punt the ball and rely on his best unit to keep the lead, he went for it, predictably failed, and gave the Football Team the ball on the edge of field goal range.
We heard a lot of great things about Hightower during training camp. We saw 0 of them on the field. Literally every time the ball was thrown to him it resulted in a negative play. He was targeted 4 times on the day: easy drop, incompletion, an interception that was arguably his fault, a screen pass that went for a loss of 2 after he caught the ball and dove to the ground immediately so he wouldn’t get hit.
Gerry is simply a bad football player. There isn’t any other way to say it. He is too aggressive in flowing to the run and gives up easy windows on every play-action play. As much as they try to sell us on his continued starting position because of his football IQ, I watched him try to undercut a route short of the sticks on 3rd down rather than just make the tackle to get off the field. As long as the Eagles continue to play Gerry they will continue to get gashed by play-action passing attacks.
Jason Peters was bad on Sunday. He arguably played worse at LT than Nate Herbig did at RG.
Congratulations Howie Roseman! You are the smartest man in the room. Are you happy? Can you use a little common sense now for a change? How Howie continues to hold his job is astounding to me. The Eagles need to hire a GM and just let Howie take care of contracts. There is no denying he is a skilled negotiator, but he is clueless when it comes to actual talent evaluation and decision making.
The Eagles entered the game with 7 starters injured, and yet his 2nd round pick wasn’t even active. Think about that. With 7 players injured, his 2nd round pick didn’t even dress for the game. The 2nd round pick was spent, not on a backup QB but on a 3rd string QB. But it doesn’t stop there. His 3rd round pick played 0 defensive snaps and logged a special teams penalty. I wonder what this team would look like if those picks were used on an offensive lineman and a linebacker who has actually played football before?
Let’s keep following this road though, shall we? Remember all the veteran running backs on the free-agent market? Remember how bad the Boston Scott/Corey Clement combo was on Sunday? I sure wonder if Carlos Hyde or Devonta Freeman or Adrian Peterson would have made a difference.
It wasn’t the running backs’ fault you say? The offensive line was just dreadful? Sure. I wonder if there is a veteran offensive tackle out there that could have been signed for depth. Maybe a guy named Cordy Glenn?
Howie Roseman’s arrogance is one of the biggest issues with this team and it isn’t going away anytime soon.
The Eagles 2020 Season
The Eagles entered the game without their starting RT, RG, LT, RB, WR2, DE, and DT. During the game the lost RB2, RT2, DE, DE2. This team just can’t catch an injury break. The Eagles also became the first team in NFL history to lose to a team without a name.
On a positive note, did you watch the Cowboys play the Rams? The Eagles offense was bad. No denying that. But at the end of the day it put up 17 points while missing LT, RG, RT, RT2, RB1, and WR2. The Cowboys star-studded offense entered the game with every starter and matched the Eagles output. Yikes.
The Washington Football Team
They aren’t a good team, but they sit in 1st place in the division right now. They are still more likely to have a top 5 pick than make the playoffs, but they won so they get awarded with an increase in their fictional stock value.
I have maintained since early last year that Dallas Goedert is a more talented TE than Zach Ertz. It is finally time for me to take a victory lap on that one. Goedert looked incredible on Sunday. The adjustment he made on that deep ball was wide receiver-esque, and I’m talking good wide receivers, not what the Eagles typically have. Goedert is a threat with the ball in his hands after the catch in a way that Zach Ertz simply never will be. The Eagles are going to have to make a choice about which TE to keep fairly soon. I think the decision is obvious.
WAIT! DON’T CLICK OFF THE TAB YET! HEAR ME OUT! I’m not calling for Jalen Hurts to take Carson Wentz’s starting job. I will never call for that. But Wentz was sacked 8 times and absorbed 15 QB hits. His body won’t hold up to that kind of a beating all year. Nobody’s would. If Wentz doesn’t learn to throw the ball away, get down and protect himself sometimes, and minimize the impact of hits he won’t make it through the season.
The Eagles Defense
I would have liked to have seen the Eagles defense defend the lead, but in reality, they put together a very good game on Sunday. They never gave up a scoring drive over 50 yards (3 were 26 yards or less). They only surrendered 239 yards of offense. They held Washington to 5 3rd down conversions on 17 attempts. The defense did their job, but couldn’t overcome the 2nd half ineptitude of the Eagles offense.