The Eagles must have just been cursed this year. I don’t know how else you explain virtually the entire team getting hurt.
They overcame all of it during one riveting undefeated month and an improbable run to the NFC East title and the playoffs.
Losing Carson Wentz was just too much to overcome.
The Eagles battled gallantly and they made it closer than it should have been, but the season ended Sunday with a 17-9 wild-card loss to the Seahawks at the Linc.
Here are our 10 instant observations from a gut-wrenching end to the 2019 season:
1. It’s just a cruel joke that after missing the 2017 and 2018 playoff runs and finally getting through a season healthy and playing at such a high level going into the postseason, Wentz’s season ended early again, this time with a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet shot by Jadeveon Clowney. It should have been a personal foul, but even if the refs called it, Wentz still misses the game. Three years in a row. It’s hard to even fathom what he’s going through. And I don’t want to hear that he’s injury prone because that blow to the side of his helmet would have knocked any QB out of the game.
It’s unthinkable right now that after everything Wentz has been through — a run at the MVP, the torn ACL in L.A., missing the Super Bowl, rehab, the back fracture, more rehab, a terrific 2019 season and tremendous finish — his first postseason lasted eight snaps. But he will stay healthy and he will get past this and he will win a lot of games for this football team. None of which is any consolation today. For this season to end with Wentz on the bench? It’s just unthinkable.
2. There’s plenty of time to talk about what the Eagles need to do this offseason, but watching D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and David Moore make play after play after play — that trio combined for 12 catches for 279 yards — really magnifies just how desperately the Eagles need weapons at wide receiver. Eagles wide receivers had four catches for 29 yards. Even if DeSean Jackson comes back, you can’t count on a 33-year-old wide receiver. Greg Ward is a nice story and a capable slot, but the Eagles have to find some legit firepower. Practice squad guys can only get you so far.
3. My initial thought when the Eagles came up short on that 4th-and-4 down eight with 6½ minutes left from the Seattle 24-yard line was … what are you doing Doug? Kick the field goal! It's 4th-and-4! But you know what? I can’t complain about Doug Pederson being aggressive. That’s what makes him one of the best coaches in the NFL. And he had a great play call. Miles Sanders will tell you he should have caught it, even though Josh McCown threw it a little behind him. This is who Doug is. I’ll take it every time.
4. McCown did some good things, ran around, made some plays, made it interesting. But … 4th-and-7 on the 10-yard line down eight with two minutes left? A one-possession game? In the playoffs? If you’re in your 18th season in the NFL — heck, if you’re in your 18th day in the NFL — you simply can’t take a sack. Do something. If you get sacked, the season is over. You just can’t let that happen in that situation.
5. I don’t think I’ve ever written about the refs in my 10 obs, but they let the Seahawks get away with so many cheap shots and late hits, it’s got to be mentioned. Not just Clowney’s hit on Carson, but it was open season on McCown as well. He was hit late at least three times. Nothing. And then in the third quarter somebody on the Seahawks actually tackled Ward by the back of his helmet and threw him down. No flag. Then Derek Barnett basically tries to hold Russell Wilson up so he doesn’t get hurt and … personal foul. You just want it called the same for both teams, and it wasn’t even close to happening. That was bad.
6. The Eagles’ corners have played well down the stretch, but this game, against an elite QB, was a sobering example of how much work there still is to do. Cre’Von LeBlanc’s missed tackle just before halftime turned what should have been a third-down stop into a 38-yard gain that led to a touchdown. Avonte Maddox was nowhere close to Metcalf on his 53-yard touchdown. And second- and third-round picks Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas sat and watched. Lots of questions for Howie Roseman to answer this offseason with these corners.
7. I better never hear anybody again talk about Zach Ertz not being tough. For him just to play 14 days after breaking a rib and suffering a small tear on his kidney is impressive enough. For him to catch two passes for 44 yards. Gamer. Don’t ever doubt it. While we’re at it, for Miles Sanders to play the way he did a week after suffering a sprained ankle? Just a bunch of tough guys on this team.
8. Hats off to the defense for keeping the Eagles in this game. It wasn’t always pretty. It missed tackles, gave up big plays, kept losing contain on Wilson, gave up too many 3rd-and-longs. But it still held the Seahawks to 17 points. If you told me before the game Seattle would score 17, I wouldn’t have thought there was a chance it would win.
9. There will be a lot of changes this offseason, but with Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Sanders, Boston Scott and Ward, along with Wentz, the Eagles do have the makings of a dynamic offense. Those guys did all they could do Sunday playing with a 40-year-old quarterback making his playoff debut. Like we said, they need outside weapons, but with Wentz at the helm, this is going to be an elite offense for the foreseeable future.
10. During the two-minute warning I found myself thinking how the Eagles were 10 yards from the end zone down eight points in a playoff game with their entire team hurt. Without Wentz, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement and essentially Jordan Howard. Not to mention Malik Jackson, Ronald Darby and Kamu Grugier-Hill on defense. Disappointing loss.
But I’ll remember how this team battled to the end. How it never stopped fighting. How it rallied so improbably around a bunch of practice squad guys and won four straight. How it gave the Seahawks a hell of a scare with Shelton Gibson drawing penalties a week after being on the Browns’ practice squad, for crying out loud. It wasn’t the season we expected and it wasn’t the ending we expected, but the Eagles made things a lot more interesting and a lot more fun than anybody could have expected coming out of Miami 5-7.
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