Ryan Fitzpatrick

Eagles at Buccaneers: 10 observations from clunker in Tampa

Eagles at Buccaneers: 10 observations from clunker in Tampa

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TAMPA — What are the Eagles’ options at wide receiver? Why was Tampa’s second 75-yard TD worse than the first? Where was the defensive line?

Here are my 10 observations off the Eagles’ 27-21 loss Sunday to the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

1. The DeSean Jackson 75-yard TD to open the game was bad. The 75-yard TD in the second quarter to tight end O.J. Howard was worse. Because the offense had finally put together a drive and tied the game, and the Eagles needed the defense to hold right there, but they just gave it right back, Ronald Darby whiffing on a tackle that would have limited the gain to 20 yards, and Malcolm Jenkins not being able to fight down the field through a Chris Godwin block. First time in Eagles history they’ve allowed two 75-yard TDs in a first half. Embarrassing. The Eagles finally got some things going late in the game and made it close, but it’s just about impossible to come back from allowing two 75-yard TDs in a half, and in the end, the Eagles never recovered from those two big plays.

2. I know everybody’s going to be yelling for the Eagles to go out and get Dez Bryant, Josh Gordon, Plaxico, Joey Galloway, T.O. or whatever other washed-up aging one-time Pro Bowl wide receiver is available. But I don’t see it. Alshon Jeffery will be back either for the Colts or Titans. The Eagles don’t need the headaches those guys will bring. They don’t have the cap space. It takes a month just to acclimate a new receiver to the offense, coaches, playbook, quarterbacks. At this point, the Eagles are best to stick with what they have until Jeffery does return.

3. I did like the effort and the fight the Eagles showed after falling behind by 20 points. They battled on both sides of the ball and made things interesting. They didn’t always play well or play smart, but they never stopped playing hard. That’s something you always look for when a team is getting embarrassed. How do they respond? Do they just give up and say, “It’s not our day?” Or do they forget the score and keep fighting?

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick finished 27 for 33 for 402 yards and four touchdowns. He’s 35, with his seventh team and his fifth in the last seven years. I like the Eagles’ secondary, but it’s inexcusable to let Ryan Fitzpatrick do this to you. Jalen Mills is a talented kid but needs to learn not to bite on the double move. Darby still needs to be more consistent. Even Jenkins had a tough day Sunday. You just can’t let Ryan Fitzpatrick do this to you.

5. Similarly, this was a game I thought the Eagles’ defensive line would dominate. Just take over. This pass rush against a 35-year-old journeyman quarterback was virtually non-existent. Other than an early Fletcher Cox sack, the Eagles got very little pressure, and when you give Fitzpatrick time, he’s really good. The D-line is the heart of this team, and they have to be better.

6. I’ll never understand Nick Foles. Ever. He can shred Bill Belichick’s defense with 100 million people watching on the greatest stage in sports or he can look like he’s never played the game before. And then he can have games like Sunday where he’s both those guys. I can’t figure him out and I never will. His final numbers look good (35 for 48, 334 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 99.5 passer rating), but honestly, he never gave the team a chance to win. Carson needs to get back soon.

7. How tough is Nelson Agholor? He got jacked up when Foles floated that ill-fated fourth-down pass down near the goal line in the fourth quarter — the play where Corey Clement also got hurt — and then he got jacked up on a punt return a couple minutes later, and he doesn’t leave the field and not only makes a miraculous touchdown catch soon after, he leaps over a photographer set up near the end zone. Talented dude. Tough dude. So glad they didn’t give up on him after 2016.

8. It’s impossible to watch DeSean Jackson run around making plays without just wondering … “Chip, what the HELL where you thinking?” Really sad.

9. Clement is really, really good. Like really good. He doesn’t get a ton of chances, but he’s always making plays. He was 6 for 30 with a 15-yard TD and 5 for 55 receiving Sunday. That’s 85 yards on 11 touches. He just makes good things happen every time he touches the football. And he’s got a real nose for the end zone. If Jay Ajayi isn’t here next year, I’m fine with Clement as the guy.

10. The Eagles were bound to lose a game sooner or later. They were 18-2 in their last 20 games they tried to win. They ran into a hot QB and they had enough breakdowns and penalties on both sides of the ball to lose an ugly one Sunday. Now the challenge is how they respond. This is a different team than the one that won the Super Bowl. A lot of new guys. The good news is the Redskins lost at home and either the Cowboys or Giants will be 0-2 later tonight. The Eagles lost an ugly one Sunday in Tampa, but this is still a good team. They’re back home Sunday for the Colts, and I’ll be surprised if they don’t bounce back in a big way.

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5 matchups to watch as Eagles travel south to face Buccaneers

5 matchups to watch as Eagles travel south to face Buccaneers

The Eagles got off to a winning start in Week 1, escaping from the opener with an 18-12 victory over the Falcons. 

A few days later, the Bucs won a 48-40 shootout over Drew Brees and the Saints in New Orleans. 

This game in Tampa Bay will be one of just two matchups between 1-0 teams in the NFC this weekend. The other is Packers-Vikings. 

Here are five matchups to watch: 

Mike Evans vs. Ronald Darby 

It remains to be seen whether DeSean Jackson (concussion) will play. A matchup between Jackson and Darby would be fun to watch. But this one is even more interesting. Darby had a really good game in the opener and I’m interested to see how he performs this season with a full offseason in this defense. 

Evans, meanwhile, is the model of consistency in the NFL. He’s been in the league for four seasons and has at least 1,000 yards in each of them. He’s one of just three players in NFL history — A.J. Green and Randy Moss are the others — to do that. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, he’s a much different receiver than the speedy Jackson. He’s more of a big catch-radius type of guy, but also has speed. He caught seven passes for 147 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. The Bucs have several weapons to watch, but Evans tops the list. 

Nick Foles vs. banged-up corners

Brees didn’t waste any time targeting rookie Carlton Davis when he entered last week’s game. Expect Foles to have some real chances to get the ball down the field. Vernon Hargreaves is on IR and Brent Grimes is 35 and has a groin injury. Foles is going to have a chance to do some damage if he can get into a rhythm. 

Brandon Brooks vs. Gerald McCoy

Lining up next to former Eagle Beau Allen is perennial Pro Bowler McCoy. McCoy lines up most often at LDT, which means he’ll be facing Brooks, who is a Pro Bowler too. This should be a fun matchup to watch. 

The Bucs’ defense starts with McCoy. They have other good players, but he’s sort of like their Fletcher Cox. Super talented, a game-wrecker and probably doesn’t get enough credit. If Brooks can handle McCoy without too much help from Jason Kelce, it would be a huge win for the Eagles. 

Bucs TEs vs. Malcolm Jenkins 

In addition to a talented trio of receivers, the Bucs also have two tight ends who play a lot in Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. Brate had 48 catches last season and Howard had 26 as a rookie. The Bucs had 20 plays with at least two tight ends on the field in Week 1.

The good news for the Eagles is that they’ve been pretty hard on tight ends recently. They gave up just three catches for 24 yards in the opener to Falcons TEs. And they gave up an average of 46 yards per game to tight ends last season. It really starts with Jenkins, who likes to play near the line of scrimmage. 

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Eagles' DL 

Did you guys know Fitzpatrick went to Harvard? You’re going to hear about that a lot this weekend. 

Yes, Fitzpatrick is smart. It’s how he’s stayed in the league for 14 seasons. He’s also coming off a game in which he accounted for five touchdowns and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week. One of the most overlooked parts of Fitz’s game is his ability to use his legs. He’s not Mike Vick, but he will run at times. At the very least, he’s really good at buying time in the pocket. If the Eagles get to him, they need to get him down. 

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Buccaneers' Ryan Fitzpatrick loves and hates Eagles' defense

Buccaneers' Ryan Fitzpatrick loves and hates Eagles' defense

Game film is pretty boring. There’s no sound, no graphics, just a bird’s-eye view of each play in succession. 

It’s football but without any glitz or glamour. 

That’s why this quote from Ryan Fitzpatrick on Wednesday about the Eagles’ defense stood out so much: 

I think the thing that you see right away when you turn on the tape of this defense is they play so fast, flying around, having fun. They have a swagger about them and it shows up even on the player tape we watch, the coach’s tape. This is a defense you love watching play and hate to go against because of how fast and physical they are.

For swagger to show up on game film … that’s pretty incredible.

The veteran quarterback, who will face the Eagles on Sunday in Tampa Bay, said this to a group of Philadelphia reporters in a conference call in advance of the game. This is Fitzpatrick’s 14th season in the NFL, so his being impressed by the Eagles’ defense is really saying something. 

It’s not hard to figure out where the Eagles’ defense gets its swagger from. Jim Schwartz is oozing with it. Everything about his being oozes confidence, from the sunglasses on his face to his sleek suits to his walk. His players have taken on that same personality. 

That’s why a former seventh-round pick like Jalen Mills has been confident enough to earn a starting gig, win a Super Bowl and keep getting better. 

Just look at Mills before Thursday’s game: 

If there has ever been a situation where dancing is in direct correlation to on-field play … this is it. 

Based on all we know about the Eagles’ defense, it shouldn’t be surprising that swagger has shown up on boring game film. But it doesn’t make it any less impressive. 

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