The Eagles lost to the Giants, 27-17, on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
But that’s not the worst part.
The real problem is that there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of light at the end of the tunnel.
I mean, how the heck did that happen?
“It’s hard to explain because you go into the game feeling really good,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “We were getting some guys back, guys were feeling fresh and ready, had a good week of preparation, you know. Listen, it came down to execution, it came down to some decision-making on my part, I mean we all had a hand in this one. It had nothing to do with effort or intensity, had nothing to do with that.”
If the head coach doesn’t have the answers, I certainly don’t either. But Pederson is right that they all had a hand in that loss. The Eagles were outplayed in all three phases, they were out-coached and the fact that they’re in first place despite all that isn’t making anyone feel good about this season.
Here are the five most concerning parts of their loss on Sunday:
1. Coaching is a serious problem
The Eagles came out of the bye week with a chance to extend their lead in the NFC East and what did they do early? The defense gave up 14 points in the first 15:03 of the game and the offense managed just three points of their own in the first half.
Are you kidding me?
The Eagles are now 1-4 coming off the bye week under Doug Pederson. We all remember how good Andy Reid was with an extra week of preparation and Pederson is the exact opposite. Conversely, the Eagles are 6-0 under Pederson in Thursday Night Football games, including 5-0 on short weeks. This seems like more than a coincidence. Pederson is worse with more time to prepare and that’s a troubling thought.
The Eagles were thoroughly out-coached on Thursday. The Giants and Joe Judge are on the rise while the Eagles’ coaches had no answers. Doug’s offense came out flat, Jim Schwartz’s defense got gashed early and even Dave Fipp’s special teams units had some breakdowns.
Pederson and Schwartz were the coaches who brought a Super Bowl parade to this city but the further we get away from Feb. 4, 2018, the more I start to wonder about their futures here.
2. Carson Wentz was unspectacular
The good news is that Wentz didn’t turn the football over for the first time all season after coughing it up at least once in the Eagles’ first eight games.
The bad news is that Wentz was still unspectacular. He didn’t make any big plays and missed several opportunities for them. He completed under 57% of his passes, was 0-for-6 on third down, didn’t throw a touchdown pass and had a pedestrian passer rating of 72.8. He was outplayed on Sunday by second-year quarterback Daniel Jones, who didn’t set the world on fire, but also made some big-time throws.
Sure, Wentz was victimized by a few drops on Sunday but he didn’t have a good game.
“I thought he played OK, played good,” Pederson said. “Obviously, there were some throws that we’d like to get back from the standpoint of just accuracy. He managed the game and the run game well, put us in some really good situations, hung tough, did what he’s capable of doing.”
That’s faint praise. He managed the run game well? The Eagles didn’t draft Wentz with the No. 2 pick and give him a $100 million contract to manage the run game. And with each poor performance it’s getting harder to imagine him suddenly flipping the switch.
3. They can’t play complementary football
The one sequence of Sunday’s game that bothered me the most was in the third quarter. The Eagles came out of halftime showing signs of life. They got the ball first and scored in 2:29 to make it a 14-11 game.
And then the Eagles’ defense promptly gave up a 75-yard scoring drive in 2:42.
It took the Giants just six plays to slice through the Eagles’ defense to extend their lead. And they picked up 65 of those yards on back-to-back completions to Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate. They were great tosses by Jones but come on.
The Eagles have struggled to play complementary football all season and this was just the latest example. Whenever the defense plays well, the offense stinks. Whenever the offense starts clicking, the defense craps out. We’re heading into Week 11 and the Eagles still haven’t played a complete game.
4. Top players aren’t getting it done
When things get bad, teams need to rely on their best players. Who are the Eagles’ best players? Well, their DL is supposed to be the best unit on the team. They were gashed in the run game and failed to get constant pressure on Daniel Jones. Darius Slay is CB1 and he was unable to knock away a pass late in the game to Darius Slayton; it’s a tough play, but you’re CB1, right?
On offense, Wentz has been lost all season. And then Jason Kelce decided to have the worst performance of his season. The low snaps were a real problem on Sunday. Travis Fulgham was finally locked down; he had 1 catch for 8 yards. Even Miles Sanders, who had a big game on the ground, picking up 85 yards on 15 carries, dropped some passes and missed a couple assignments in pass protection.
5. Here comes the gauntlet
There are plenty of reasons to worry about the Eagles long-term but this loss is equally as bad in the context of this season. The Eagles needed to win this game because the stretch they have coming up is really daunting. They have five straight games coming against winning teams.
Here are the records of those teams coming into Sunday’s action:
Week 11: at Browns (5-3)
Week 12: vs. Seahawks (6-2)
Week 13: at Packers (6-2)
Week 14: vs. Saints (6-2)
Week 15: at Cardinals (5-3)
Then the Eagles finish their season with the Cowboys and Washington. But how many of these next five games can we really expect the Eagles to win? There’s a real chance they could be 3-10-1 after this stretch unless they steal one or a couple of these games. It certainly won’t be easy. And by losing to the Giants, they made their road to winning the division much harder.
Coming into the weekend, FiveThirtyEight had the Eagles at a 70% chance to win the NFC East. Those chances took a significant hit on Sunday.