Back to reality for the Eagles, whose late-season run to an unlikely playoff berth took a big hit Sunday with an ugly 13-7 loss to an awful Giants team at MetLife Stadium.
After winning three of four, the Eagles fell to 5-7 with five games left. Safe to say making the playoffs won't be a big topic around the NovaCare Complex this week. Trying to fix the passing game will be.
Here's our 10 Instant Observations from East Rutherford:
1. Boston Scott will get the blame, and that fumble at midfield 1:34 was inexcusable. The Eagles were already down Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders at that point, but Scott isn’t a rookie and he can’t get stripped with the game on the line 50 yards from the game-winning touchdown. But that’s not why the Eagles lost this game. They lost because for most of the 60 minutes against the Giants they didn’t make plays on offense and they didn’t make plays on defense and I don’t care who you’re playing or what their record is or who’s injured, if you turn the ball over four times, don’t force any turnovers, drop a touchdown and another near TD in the final seconds, let Daniel Jones convert big 3rd downs, don’t get the ball in the hands of your best receivers, don’t get any pressure and commit costly penalties, you’re going to lose. No matter who you're playing. The last few weeks were good ones for the Eagles, but this is a reminder that they haven't yet arrived. They’re 5-7, that playoff dream is slipping away and there’s still an awful lot of work to do to turn this thing around.
2. These are the types of games that make you wonder about Jalen Hurts, and his future, and whether he can be The Guy, because as exciting as can be and as brilliant a runner as he is, he has to be able to make plays in the passing game against a bad defense like this Giants one, and on Sunday Hurts couldn’t do it. The interception late in the first quarter didn’t seem to be his fault – it looked like Quez Watkins stopped his route – but the second one, with the Eagles at the goal-line just before halftime, was awful. Can’t make that throw. The third one was just a badly underthrown deep ball. We’ve talked all year about consistency. It’s not enough to make a splash play or two if the consistency isn’t there. And Sunday, Hurts threw into double coverage, didn’t handle pressure well, showed poor pocket awareness, missed wide-open guys, locked in on his first read and just never got into any kind of rhythm. His two best throws of the game may have been Jalen Reagor’s two unfathomable drops in the final minute. This was discouraging. This is a Giants team ranked 26th in defense and 25th in pass defense. I’m not ready to give up on Hurts or declare that he can’t be the quarterback moving forward. It’s one game. But he has to be a lot better than this.
3. As for Reagor … he’s just awful right now. He had two chances in the final few seconds and Hurts put the ball right there and he couldn’t catch either one. But that’s the kind of year it’s been for him. This team has had a lot of 1st-round busts, from Kenny Jackson, Jon Harris, Jerome McDougle and Fireman Danny up through Derek Barnett and Andre Dillard. But Reagor is really etching his name into the pantheon. He’s just brutal. Nick Sirianni has to shut him down, like Doug Pederson did with Nelson Agholor in 2016. I don’t care if you put a practice squad guy out there in place of him. He’s killing this team right now.
4. I absolutely hated that 3rd-and-goal call from the 1-yard-line with eight seconds left in the first half. Actually, the bigger issue was the previous play. With one timeout and 2nd-and-goal on the 2 at 12 seconds, you throw on second down and either score or stop the clock. If you don’t score, you run on third down and call timeout to set up the field goal. By running on second down, Nick Sirianni had to use his final timeout when the Giants stopped Sanders at the 1. Then the 3rd-down call is this lumbering Hurts rollout to his right and a throw into traffic? The play never had a chance. It was a brutal sequence, and it cost the Eagles points.
5. I guess I can’t come down too hard on the defense because they did only allow 13 points. But the inability of this D-line to get sacks is getting to the point of absurdity. Javon Hargrave got a sack on the Giants’ last play from scrimmage, when Jones basically took a knee. But other than that, nothing. This is a terrible Giants offensive line, and for Fletcher Cox, Barnett, Hargrave and Josh Sweat to not get any pressure on Jones is preposterous. But it’s happening week after week. In their last seven games, the d-line has eight sacks – six of them against the Lions. And it’s not like Jones is out there getting rid of the ball quickly. Yeah, they got some pressures and a couple big hits. That’s not good enough. The Eagles had the one token sack and no takeaways Sunday against the quarterback who commits turnovers more often than anybody else in the NFL. Thirteen points should be enough to win. But make a play. Somebody make a play.
6. How can Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith be targeted a combined three times? It just makes no sense. I’m all for spreading the ball around and getting other guys involved, and it was nice to see Kenny Gainwell catch some balls down the stretch. But Goedert and Smith combined for 22 yards, and that makes no sense.
7. Not much I can say about Nate Herbig. Jason Kelce has been so durable – hasn’t missed a start since October 2014 – it was unimaginable seeing him on the sideline. But that’s no excuse for those two damaging penalties Herbie committed. The first one wiped out a 24-yard Hurts run, and the second one wiped out a 21-yard Boston Scott touchdown. Herbig is in his third year and has 13 starts to his name. It was great to see Kelce come back in the game, but without those Herbig penalties, the Eagles probably win the game.
8. The Eagles’ inability to generate big plays on offense really caught up with them Sunday, even with the running game piling up yards once again. The Eagles didn’t have a 30-yard play against one of the NFL’s worst defenses, and they don’t have a 40-yard play since the Cowboys game two months ago. They have only eight 30-yard plays all year, and five were in their first four games. Dinking and dunking will only get you so far.
9. It’s crazy to look at the final stats and see 208 rushing yards and seven points. The Eagles are the first team to do that since 2012 and only the third since 1999. The last time the Eagles ran for 200 yards and only scored seven points was 1957. Against the Giants at Yankee Stadium. And that was without Howard and much of the game without Sanders. Running is great, and the Eagles won some games with a run-centric offense. But Sunday’s game was the best evidence yet that without a high-powered passing game it’s really hard to win in this league. And right now the Eagles are a long way from a high-powered offense.
10. I’ve been thinking about something Joe Banner tweeted the other day: Something to the effect of “No team has ever won a Super Bowl with a quarterback who’s a better runner than passer.” That is true. I still believe Jalen Hurts can be a winning quarterback in the NFL, and I don’t think all the Eagles’ issues Sunday were his fault. Clearly they weren’t. But there are five games left this year and I really need to see growth in the passing game from Hurts. He can’t go out there and just put the ball up for grabs. He can’t take off and run when there are open receivers. He can't throw behind guys. Maybe this is just a blip, but these next five games are critical for Hurts to show he can be a big-time passer in the NFL.
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