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.