Panthers 21, Eagles 17: Three great quarters and an epic collapse

Panthers 21, Eagles 17: Three great quarters and an epic collapse


This is nothing close to the 10 Instant Observations I was prepared to write about an hour ago.


The Eagles on Sunday for only the third time in franchise history — a history that goes back to 1933 — blew a 17-point lead going into the fourth quarter, and the only words I can think of right now are inexcusable, unacceptable and embarrassing after their 21-17 loss to the Panthers.

I'm sure you can add a few.

1. OK, enough thinking that the Eagles might be an elite team. Fifteen minutes away from a 4-3 record, a two-game winning streak with a 17-point lead in your own stadium? You just can't lose that game. Period. There's plenty of blame to go around, but that fourth quarter was a season killer. Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz have a lot of figuring out to do. How can an offense that looked unstoppable for three quarters simply stop making plays? How can a defense that wasn't allowing anything for three quarters simply forget how to cover and tackle? The bottom line is the Eagles were one stop or one score away from 4-3, but now they're 3-4 in a suddenly improved NFC East. It's going to be very difficult to bounce back from this.

2. The Eagles totally lost their aggressiveness in the fourth quarter, and that aggressiveness was the hallmark of the Eagles during the Super Bowl run. And I'm talking about both sides of the football. Pederson prides himself on aggressive playing in all situations, but once the Eagles had the big lead it just seemed like he was content to sit on the lead and hope for the best. And Schwartz seemed to lose his aggressiveness as well, and the pass rush that looked so good for 45 minutes was virtually absent in the fourth quarter, as Cam Newton tore apart the Eagles' defense. It seemed like the Eagles got the big lead and then just tried to wait for the clock to run out. Can't win like that.

3. How rare is this? Here's how rare: The Eagles went into Sunday 152-2-1 in franchise history when leading by 17 after three quarters. This kind of collapse is not only incredibly rare but absolutely inexcusable. They're now 152-3-1.

4. One thing that's really killed the Eagles this year is their lack of takeaways. They went into the weekend tied for 23rd in the NFL in takeaways, and against a quarterback that they've picked off nine times in four previous games they didn't get any takeaways. They have four interceptions in seven games. Not good enough. They could have ended this game at any point with a takeaway, and they had a few chances. It never happened.

5. The Eagles also need to get back to protecting their home court. That's two straight losses in a stadium where the Eagles went 9-0 in meaningful games last year. Again, not acceptable.

6. It's hard to criticize Carson Wentz as brilliant as he was for most of the game, but he has to be better on that last drive after the Eagles got the ball down to the 22-yard line in the final minutes down four. He threw a first-down pass with no apparent intended receiver that was called an interception and luckily for the Eagles overruled, a third-down pass to Alshon Jeffery who was blanketed in double coverage in the end zone, and then he couldn't even get a pass off on fourth down and wound up fumbling. Wentz is putting up incredible numbers, but he has to at least give his team a chance on that last series.

7. A few words about Zach Ertz. He's just been so solid and so consistent, and I know fans love to get on his case, but all the guy does is produce. He was 9 for 138 Sunday and was just money on big play after big play. Ertz now has 57 catches for 618 yards through seven games, which no tight end in NFL history has ever done. He's having a truly historic season.

8. Will be very interesting to see how the Eagles rebound from such a devastating loss. It's not an easy week, with a few days of practice in Philly before a long flight to London and then a practice over there before the game against a terrible Jaguars team Sunday. It's been a long time since the Eagles suffered this catastrophic a loss, and we'll see what they're really made of this coming week and once they hit NFC East play after the bye.

9. The first three quarters, Newton was 9 for 17 for 68 yards with no TDs. And he was pressured constantly. The fourth quarter? He was 16 for 22 for 201 yards with two TDs. And he wasn't pressured at all. I don't know how the Eagles' pressure evaporated, but Newton is a former MVP and a Super Bowl QB. Give him some breathing room and he'll take it. The Eagles' defense has a ton of questions to answer right now.

10. When is it time to worry about Jake Elliott? He made a 46-yarder, which was nice to see, but he also missed a 36-yarder, and he's now 2 for 6 this year from 36 yards and out. Two of his misses were from 54 and 55 yards, but those are kicks good NFL kickers make these days. League-wide going into Sunday, kickers had made 54 percent of attempts from 54 yards and beyond this year (14 for 26). I feel like everybody in the stadium holds their breath every time he goes to kick a field goal.

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Watch Eagles cheerleader Kyle Tanguay crush his American Idol audition

Watch Eagles cheerleader Kyle Tanguay crush his American Idol audition

Rookie Eagles cheerleader Kyle Tanguay captured Philly fans' collective hearts this past season with his energy and excitement at the Linc. It was an instant connection. 

Over the weekend, he did the same thing with American Idol's judges.

Tanguay, 21, zipped down to Washington, D.C., to audition for the rebooted singing competition after his first year with the Birds' cheerleading squad, looking to broaden his performance horizons after the warm reception he received in 2019.

The Eagles' cheerleading squad showed out in a big way for Tanguay's audition in front of Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, including performing a quick custom "Kyle" cheer after flooding the audition room.

Ultimately, though, Tanguay wasn't going to get a free trip through the contest if he couldn't sing.

His clip on Sunday night's show showed: he can really, really sing.

That's a no-joke performance from someone who had never sung in public.

Tanguay talked with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra earlier this month about the audition:

It was the most craziest experience ever and it really allowed me to remind myself that it’s okay to step outside your comfort zone. The experience on the show was so awesome, so exciting and it’s something that I cannot wait for the world to see.

Tanguay keeps the hits coming. Auditions continue through mid-March, and then we head to Hollywood, where Tanguay will probably win even more fans.

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Doug Pederson explains why he no longer has an offensive coordinator

Doug Pederson explains why he no longer has an offensive coordinator

As Doug Pederson enters Year 5 as Eagles head coach, there’s a notable change to the structure of his coaching staff. 

He doesn’t have an offensive coordinator. And now we have a reason why. 

Earlier this offseason, Pederson fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh a day after he said Groh was safe and then shook up the structure of his coaching staff, electing to move forward sans an official OC. 

As the NFL world gets ready to take over Indianapolis this week for the annual NFL Scouting Combine, Pederson spoke the the Eagles Insider Podcast and finally explained his decision. 

It’s a great question because it’s a question I have really pondered about for quite some time, really for many years. You look around the league and there are teams who don’t have coordinators. There are teams that have coordinators. I’ve had a coordinator by title. I look at the structure of what we’re doing offensively and how collaborative we put our game plans together. It’s like players; it’s not about one guy. Same way on the coaching staff. It’s not about one coach who has to do everything. It’s a collaborative effort. 

“Bottom line, I’m the one calling plays on game day. So in some facets, you could consider me the offensive coordinator as well. The more I thought about it, I’m like, just again, I’m really excited about Press (Taylor). I think he’s got a bright future. Giving him the title of passing game coordinator, really again, gives him the opportunity to give more thought and input on our game plans. Having Rich (Scangarello) being as a senior offensive assistant, he can assist and help sort of bridge the gap with [Jeff Stoutland] and Press and putting all the pieces together, along with myself and Justin Peele and Duce Staley. Just bringing our game plans together. That’s what I want. That’s my vision for this season and really having a seamless transition that way. 

“When we win, we win as a team. Again, it’s not about one guy getting the credit. I feel like this is the best structure for us, for me as the play caller. Because there’s times when I get pulled in a lot of different directions and I gotta lean on Press. And I’m going to have to lean on Rich and Jeff Stoutland and the guys to really pull the game plans together and really give me the information that I need as we prepare for games.” 

While Pederson — and really everyone inside the NovaCare Complex — has always stressed a collaborative effort in all football manners, he didn’t really give any specifics about how the workload will be split and how Groh’s former responsibilities will be divided up in the new power structure. 

Hopefully, we’ll get some of those answers in Indianapolis this week. 

As a reminder, he’s an updated look at the new structure of the Eagles’ offensive coaching staff. 

Head coach/play caller: Doug Pederson

Quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator: Press Taylor 

Offensive line coach/run game coordinator: Jeff Stoutland 

Senior offensive assistant: Rich Scangarello 

Running backs coach/assistant head coach: Duce Staley 

Tight ends coach: Justin Peele 

Wide receivers coach: Aaron Moorehead 

Pass game analyst: Andrew Breiner 

It’s not unheard of for an NFL coach with a clear focus on one side of the ball — like Pederson on offense — to not have an official coordinator. But this is just the first time he has elected to have this setup. 

The optics weren’t great a month and a half ago when Pederson gave Groh a vote of confidence only to fire him a day later, but on the podcast claimed he was still going through his evaluation process at the time. 

At the time, one obvious theory was that Pederson wanted to keep Groh and the front office overruled him. But that’s a theory that has been shot down multiple times by the Eagles. And Pederson on this podcast said that he listened to input from his bosses but, ultimately, the coaching staff is up to him. 

“The coaching staff is my responsibility,” he said. “I’m the one that hires them and I’m obviously the one that has to do the dirty work and sometimes let coaches go. That’s my responsibility.”

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