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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