EAGLES

Defense remains miserable, and more in Roob's observations

EAGLES

At least they didn’t embarrass themselves. 

So there’s that.

The Eagles lost again, and unlike most of their other losses they were competitive and they had a chance to win and there were even some things to be encouraged about.

But the bottom line is they just weren’t good enough, and considering the sorry state of the Chargers’ offensive line and secondary this is a game the Eagles should have won at home.

So take the positives out of their 27-24 loss to the Chargers – and there really were some – but ultimately they lost, they're 3-6 and for only the seventh time in franchise history they’re 0-4 at home.

Better. But not good enough. 

1. Justin Herbert became the latest QB to put up huge numbers on the Eagles, and considering Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay both got banged up and had to leave the game, the Eagles didn’t have many answers for the Chargers’ passing attack. They finished the game with rookie 4th-round pick Zech McPhearson at outside corner and Andre Chachere in the slot. McPhearson had never played defense in his career and Chachere had only played 20 snaps. They played as well as you could have hoped, but to me the blame for Herbert’s passing success lies squarely on the defensive line. This is a banged-up Chargers o-line, but Herbert had all the time he needed in the pocket, and he’s too good to let him just stand there and find open receivers. Herbert dropped back 37 times and didn’t get sacked. Or even hit. The Eagles have been held without a sack three of the last four weeks, and considering that the d-line is the highest-paid and most decorated position group on the roster, that’s flat-out unacceptable.

 

2. One of the more encouraging things to come out of this game was Nick Sirianni’s continued commitment to the run. A week after the Eagles ran 46 times for 236 yards in Detroit, they ran 39 times for 176 yards against the Chargers, both games without Miles Sanders. Does this mean Sirianni is over his obsession with throwing the ball 80 percent of the time like earlier in the season? You have to hope so. Nobody is saying be 50-50 or even 60-40. Just run it when it’s smart to run it. And two weeks in a row now he’s done that. That at least gives the Eagles a chance.

3. Really, this game came down to one drive, and the Eagles couldn’t get off the field. The Chargers were just a little bit better at key moments on that game-winning 15-play drive and converted a couple fourth downs and kicked a field goal. Would it have been any different with Maddox and Slay on the field? Who knows. Doesn’t matter. The Eagles had opportunities to get stops on that drive and they couldn’t do it. Just not quite good enough.

4. It was good to see Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith finally on the same page, especially on the two 2nd-half touchdown drives. Hurts missed Smith badly on what should have been a touchdown just before halftime, but on the first TD drive Hurts found Smith for back-to-back completions of 23 and 19 yards, and on the second one they connected on five plays of at least 19 yards after they hit on only three of them in the last four games. We just haven’t seen a lot of Hurts dropping back, seeing open WRs and delivering them the football, so this was a very good sign. Especially against the NFL’s No. 3-ranked pass defense.

5. The second half was actually one of Hurts’ better stretches in a while. He finally seemed to be looking to throw first, although when he did run he was very effective. After a quiet first half (4-for-9, 54 yards), Hurts was 7-for-8 for 108 yards with a TD pass to Smith in the second half. I’ve been discouraged lately by his inability to throw with anticipation and look down the field, but this was overall a good day for him.  

6. Jordan Howard is such a great story, and he deserves so much credit for staying positive and upbeat through what was essentially a two-year period where he didn’t play, got cut twice by two different teams, ran scout team in anonymity on the Eagles’ practice squad for two months and just waited. How many former Pro Bowlers find themselves on practice squads? Howard was 17-for-71 with a TD Sunday and in his first two games of the season he’s 29-for-128 with three TDs. Sirianni has to make Howard a permanent part of the offense even after Miles Sanders gets back.

 

7. The Eagles have shown great improvement the last couple weeks in run defense. The Eagles ranked 29th in the NFL in run defense coming out of Vegas at 133 yards per game, but they held DeAndre Swift to 27 yards on 12 carries and on Sunday held Austin Ekeler – whose 5.0 average was 9th among NFL running backs coming into the game – to a 3.1 average on 17 carries. The Chargers’ inability to run put a ton of pressure on Herbert, but he responded in a big way.

8. Another preposterous penalty by Derek Barnett, jumping offsides and turning a 3rd-and-6 at the 28 into a 3rd-and-1 on the 23 that the Chargers easily converted on a keeper on the way to a 4th-quarter touchdown. The Eagles have done a nice job reducing the penalties the last few weeks, but Barnett’s lack of poise and discipline just continues to kill this team. Barnett has four penalties and one sack this year. This stuff is inexcusable. And it keeps happening.

9. I don’t even know what to say anymore about Jalen Reagor. First of all, when you open a drive on your own 22-yard-line down 24-17 with 11 minutes left, why are you even thinking about involving Reagor at that point? But that first play was messed-up from the start. Reagor started running backwards when there was clearly nothing there and wound up with a six-yard loss on his only touch of the game. He now has 4 catches for 19 yards in the last four games. He doesn’t have to be Justin Jefferson, but right now he doesn’t even look like he should be playing. 

10. This is not an NFL record you want, but the Eagles have now allowed five quarterbacks to complete 80 percent of their passes (Dak Prescott, Pat Mahomes, Tom Brady, Derek Carr, Herbert). That ties an NFL record set in 2015 by the Buccaneers. With eight weeks left. Herbert was 32-for-38 for 356 yards with two TDs and no INTs. That’s 84.2 percent. Only two QBs have ever thrown 30 passes against the Eagles and completed 84 percent of their passes. Carr two weeks ago and Herbert Sunday. The Eagles didn’t have a sack in either game.

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