Eagles exhibit classic hallmark of a bad team in loss to Dolphins

Eagles exhibit classic hallmark of a bad team in loss to Dolphins

MIAMI — Carson Wentz did enough for the Eagles to win on Sunday against the Dolphins. 

The fact that the Eagles didn’t win is obviously a problem. And it’s a hallmark of bad teams. They’re finding different ways to lose. 

In the previous two losses, the Eagles scored just 19 total points, while the defense held two Hall of Fame quarterbacks to 17 points each. 

And then on Sunday, the Eagles’ offense was able to explode (it’s all relative) for 31 points! But on the same day, their defense gave up 37 to an offense that was ranked 30th in the NFL, scoring fewer than 15 points per game, and led by a 37-year-old journeyman quarterback. 

It was a total role reversal in the Eagles’ 37-31 loss at Hard Rock Stadium. But the result was the same. Another loss. 

Wentz noticed it too — that the Eagles’ offense and defense can’t seem to play well at the same time. 

“Obviously we had a couple really bad showing offensively and we came out here and put up points,” Wentz said. “But I believe in this defense. I believe in the offense. I think we’re going to get this thing going in the right direction. 

“Obviously, it’s tough to lose the way we did, the circumstances, like I said earlier. But a lot of faith we’re going to get this thing going.”

I understand that Wentz has to have faith things are going to turn around, but it’s hard to imagine that in Week 14, all of a sudden, things are just going to click. We have to face the facts here: This is a bad football team. Sunday was their third straight loss, the first time they’ve done that since Doug Pederson’s first season as head coach. 

I thought Wentz actually played pretty well on Sunday. Sure, he made a few big mistakes. The 10-yard sack in the third quarter just can’t happen; it probably cost the Eagles three points. And he missed a deep ball to Alshon Jeffery. 

But, overall, Wentz wasn’t the problem on Sunday. He threw for 310 yards with three touchdowns. And his passer rating before that intercepted Hail Mary — which was a good throw, by the way — was 104.9. 

And let’s not forget that Wentz hit Zach Ertz inside the red zone in the third quarter up 28-20 and the tight end just dropped an easy ball. 

Some of this probably sounds like more excuses for Wentz, but it was hard to watch that game and not walk away thinking the rest of the team let him down. Wentz didn’t give up 37 points, he didn’t commit 10 penalties for 91 yards, he didn’t drop passes. 

At the same time, he knows he can still be better. 

“Every game is different, but at the end of the day, we’re not making enough plays in critical situations to win ballgames,” Wentz said. “We’ve been close in a lot of these, and just collectively as a team, we’re just coming up short in those critical situations and it starts with me. I’ve got to be better in a lot of those big-time situations too.”

The Eagles have four games left in the 2019 season. Technically, they can still win out and win the NFC East. 

But after losing to the Dolphins, it’s hard to imagine that happening … no matter how the team tries to spin it. 

“That’s good football team,” Pederson said of the Dolphins, who entered Sunday with two wins and an NFL-low point differential of minus-183. 

The Dolphins, of course, are not a good football team. They’re one of the worst teams in the league. 

So what does that make the Eagles? 

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Eagles QB coach Press Taylor back at work following quarantine

Eagles QB coach Press Taylor back at work following quarantine

Not only is Doug Pederson back at the NovaCare Complex, his quarterbacks coach is as well.

Press Taylor has returned to work after being quarantined following Pederson’s positive COVID test.

Because Taylor was in close quarters with Pederson, he was quarantined away from the NovaCare Complex until a series of tests came back negative and he showed no symptoms. 

As with players, it's up to the individual if he chooses to announce whether he actually had the virus or was simply quarantined for being around someone who did.

Although there is a COVID reserve list for players who either test positive or have been in close proximity to someone who has, there is no similar list for coaches, and NFL teams are under no obligation to announce when or if any coaches have either tested positive or have been quarantined without a positive test.

Pederson and Taylor were both sent home from work on Aug. 2. Pederson returned on Wednesday.

Two of the three Eagles who were placed on the COVID reserve list on July 29 - Nate Gerry and Lane Johnson - have returned to the team. That leaves third-year offensive tackle Jordan Mailata as the only known remaining player or coach not currently with the team.

Taylor joined the Eagles as one of Chip Kelly’s offensive quality control coaches in 2013. He became offensive quality control and assistant quarterbacks coach under Pederson in 2016, quarterbacks coach in 2018 and had the passing game coordinator tag added to his title this year.

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Doug Pederson details Eagles’ 2020 training camp structure

Doug Pederson details Eagles’ 2020 training camp structure

Earlier this offseason, Doug Pederson intimated that the Eagles might have more scrimmages this summer to make up for the cancelation of the entire preseason. 

That doesn’t seem to be the case. 

In the past, Pederson has typically had two days where the Eagles go “live” and tackle to the ground. Even without preseason games, that is the plan this summer too. 

I’m going to stick to that schedule,” Pederson said via a Zoom call on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m going to stick to two days of having situational, scrimmage-type practices. I feel like it’s a great way to get our guys prepared for game situations, game action. I’m going to do two of those days.

That means there will be limited opportunities to really evaluate their young players during this training camp. 

Pederson also said there are in total eight or nine padded practices in the next 2 1/2 weeks. 

The Eagles are right now in the Gradual Ramp Up Period of training camp, which allows non-padded practices. Padded practices begin Monday (Aug. 17) when the Eagles enter the Contact Integration Period. 

If those “live” periods indeed remain similar to what Pederson has done in the past, don’t think of scrimmages as just 11-on-11 offense vs. defense, like a game. The situational part means they’ll be in goal line or backed up, etc. Pederson likes to segment practice this way. 

Pederson admitted there will be a “fine line” as the coaches try to evaluate players but also work on situational players and get ready for the season. Normally, those preseason games are huge for evaluating young players. Now, the coaching staff has to do it in 2 1/2 weeks while also preparing veteran players for the upcoming season. 

Because of that, will these practices be any more intense? 

“I don’t know if they’ll be any more intense,” Pederson said. “Training camp practices are grueling anyway.” 

That’s true. And Pederson also brought up a great point that this current setup means fewer days off once these practices get going. Normally, when there are preseason games, teams get the day before and after off. So if you’re a starter and you play 10 snaps in a preseason game, those 10 snaps are really your only significant on-field time in the span of three days. There are obviously off days built into this schedule but not that many. 

While the Eagles haven’t started padded practices yet, they have been in training camp and in virtual meetings for a while. In fact, the Eagles have completely installed their offensive and defensive schemes. 

The last thing left to do is get on the field and get ready for the season. 

“The only thing we’ve missed really is just the live practices that we would have had under a normal situation,” Pederson said. “Tomorrow, I think would have been our first preseason game. We’ve got everything that we need in if we were to play a game tomorrow. We’re not really playing catch up, we’re just enhancing what we have moving forward.”

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