The Eagles were without their top two receivers on Sunday afternoon against the Lions and it showed.
As I went back through the game this morning, I counted eight dropped passes by six different players in that 27-24 loss. With a game so close, these mistakes were huge.
“Teaching points?” head coach Doug Peterson said on Monday. “Catch the ball.
“It’s just focus and concentration. And we have to make sure we do a better job there, work it in practice, throw it to them. Whether it’s in individual work or on the JUGS machine like guys do before and after practice. We have to continue to do that.”
Here’s a look at all eight drops and their impact:
Drop No. 1
Time: 10:59 left in the second quarter
This was the first drop of the game. It’s 3rd-and-6 from the Eagles’ 43-yard line. Nelson Agholor, who dropped what was probably a game-winning touchdown last week, got off to a rough start in this one. Working from the slot, Agholor gets some separation and would have picked up a first down with a catch. Instead, it looks like Agholor tries to make a turn before the catch and, in the process, lets the ball pass through his hands and bounce of his chest. The Eagles punt. Agholor’s worst play on the day was the fumble a little while later, but this was really bad, too.
At this point in the game, the Lions had a four-point lead but the Eagles were driving. Heck, they already overcame an OPI from Mack Hollins earlier on the drive and this catch would have given the Eagles a first down around midfield.
Drop No. 2
Time: :52 left in the second quarter
I was on the fence about this one. If you don’t want to call it a drop (it was a tough catch), that’s fine. But this is a ball one of the best tight ends in the league needs to catch. It was a little high, but Ertz gets his hands on the ball before the defender touched him.
On the next play, Wentz gets sacked for a three-yard loss and the Eagles are happy to escape to the locker room down by 10 points.
Drop No. 3
Time: 9:38 left in the third quarter
On this one, Hollins is called for OPI and still can’t come up with the catch. I suppose this one doesn’t really matter because of the penalty (which was very ticky-tacky), but still ... catch the ball.
Drop No. 4
Time: 6:23 left in the third quarter
Jordan Howard has worked hard on his pass-catching ability but this isn’t a play that’s in his wheelhouse. Howard lines up wide as a receiver and runs a solid route and Wentz hits him in stride. Howard needs to get his hands up to catch this ball. Instead, he lets it come to him and it bounces off his back (left) arm.
This one ended up not mattering too much. On the next play, Wentz hit Hollins for a 20-yard gain on 3rd-and-8, but that still doesn’t excuse the drop that left the Eagles with a 3rd-and-long instead of a 3rd-and-2.
Drop No. 5
Time: 13:21 left in the fourth quarter
While the first drop from Ertz was tough grading, this one is more obvious. It’s 3rd-and-20 from their own 15-yard line and the Lions are in a prevent look. Still, Ertz has an opportunity to haul in what should have been a 14 or 15-yard catch with the Eagles down 10 points.
If Ertz catches this, the Eagles have either a 4th-and-5 from their 30 or a 4th-and-6 from their 29 and maybe they think about going for it. If not, it would still give them 15 extra field position yards. The Lions started the ensuing drive in Philadelphia territory after a 24-yard punt return.
Drop No. 6
Time: 9:13 left in the fourth quarter
This one is just brutal. I know Dallas Goedert was hurting, but he needs to catch this ball that was a perfect touchdown pass from Wentz to the end zone on 1st-and-10.
It really doesn’t get any easier than that.
Sure, the Eagles end up scoring on this drive, so maybe it doesn’t matter. But It took an extra two minutes to get in the end zone, which can be significant in the fourth quarter of a two-score game.
Drop No. 7
Time: 1:36 left in the fourth
Hollins is lucky I didn’t count this more than once. I guess you give him credit for nearly pulling out a circus play, but this should have been a catch the first time it hit his hands. This would have given the Eagles a much-needed first down heading into Detroit territory with a chance to score a touchdown and win the game.
At the very least, it would have put them in range to try a 53-yard field goal for the tie. They never got into field goal range.
Drop No. 8
Time: :49 left in the fourth
After all the mistakes the Eagles made Sunday afternoon, rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside has a chance to erase them. With a last-ditch heave on 4th-and-15, Wentz hits the rookie in the hands. I’ve seen some say that Wentz could have led him more, but he was forced to throw off his back foot and still hit his receiver.
And this is one of those body control plays Arcega-Whiteside is supposed to be known for. There’s just no reason to not pull this ball in.
There were other mistakes from the Eagles in Sunday’s loss. There were two fumbles, penalties, the kick return touchdown, but the drops stand out to me because they came from six different players.
Pederson attributed these drops to a lack of focus. It’s completely inexcusable for half the offense to lose focus during crucial plays in a game this important.
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