Eagles-Redskins Postgame: When a Loss is Really a Win
All the talk last week was about the lack of effort some of the players on the Philadelphia Eagles gave in their embarrassing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. This week, the entire team gave a commendable effort against the Washington Redskins. Unfortunately, the Eagles still lost to the Redskins, 27-22.
It seems that actual talent wins games in the NFL. Who knew.
Yes, the effort was there for the Eagles (5-8) on Sunday, but the talent is still sorely lacking on the roster. The lack of talent became even more apparent when several players went down with injuries during the game. By the end of the game, the Eagles were using backups at LG and RG. They were using their fourth string RT and their third string long snapper. They were also without their No. 2 TE and No. 2 WR and had only one healthy RB left at the end of the game.
The injuries played a big role in the loss, but it shouldn't be blamed on those backups. Can you really expect a fourth stringer to block Washington OLB Ryan Kerrigan with the game on the line? Well, it seems that Eagles head coach Doug Pederson expected RT Matt Tobin to be able to block Kerrigan one-on-one and it ended up costing his team the game. Not a shock that Pederson once again proved he is the worst coach in the entire NFL.
The biggest positive from the loss is that rookie QB Carson Wentz played well. And yes, there can be a positive from a loss. This loss officially ended any chance the Eagles had at the playoffs and at this point there is nothing to play for but a better spot in the draft. Anyway, Wentz completed 32 of 46 passes for 314 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.
Wentz almost won the game for his team at the end, but Pederson's decision to let Tobin try, and fail, to block Kerrigan on 2nd down at the Washington 14 yard line ended with Kerrigan sacking Wentz and forcing a fumble that Washington recovered with 12 seconds left in the game. It's a shame, because this would have been Wentz's first 4th quarter comeback of his young NFL career. Ultimately, it was not meant to be. Maybe in another season, when the Eagles have more talent on the field and even on the sideline.
Tobin was playing because starting LG Alan Barbre had moved to RT after the starting RT, Lane Johnson was suspended and his backup, Halapoulivaati Vaitai was injured two games ago. That's not Pederson's fault, but leaving Tobin to block Kerrigan without help is just plain stupid and it cost the team the game. The Eagles were also playing without RG Brandon Brooks, who missed his second game in the last three weeks due to an "illness". Something strange is going on there.
Other injuries during the game were RB Darren Sproles, who suffered a concussion when he was hit early by Washington's Deshazor Everett trying to return a punt. RB Wendell Smallwood left with a knee injury that might be season-ending. Long snapper Jon Dorenbos suffered a wrist injury that did end his season after he had surgery on Sunday night. And TE and backup long snapper Brent Celek left with a stinger. Even a team with a better roster might have trouble overcoming that many injuries, so it was all too much for Wentz and the Eagles to get the win.
Wentz looked sharp most of the game, but his interception really hurt, since it was in the redzone. The good news there is that the coaches explained that it was TE Zach Ertz's fault. It seems that Ertz did not recognize the coverage and ran the wrong route, which lead to the INT in the endzone. That could have given the Eagles a 10-0 lead and changed the entire complexion of the game, but it wasn't meant to be. Bad teams make plays like that all the time. Ertz also got flagged for a block in the back on Sproles' 72-yard punt return TD that was negated. Not a good day, even when you consider he caught 10 passes for 112 yards.
The Eagles actually had a lead at halftime, 13-7 and outplayed the Redskins in the game. They ran 30 more plays than Washington and held a 36:38 to 23:22 time of possession advantage. Unfortunately, the defense continued its downward spiral and gave up the lead repeatedly.
Leodis McKelvin had an up-and-down game, which is better than is normal down-and-down game. McKelvin returned a INT 29 yards for an TD early in the 4th quarter, but also gave up an 80-yard TD to DeSean Jackson. The first was a horrible pass by Washington QB Kirk Cousins (14-21-234 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT). The second was a great pass by Cousins. Other than that, McKelvin gave huge cushions on every play and gave up multiple receptions. The rest of the defense didn't do much better, considering the Redskins scored 27 points while running only 46 plays.
The defense didn't give up 230 yards rushing to Washington, like they did earlier this season, but Rob Kelley did gain 63 yards and scored a TD on 16 carries. Chris Thompson also rushed for 38 yards, including a 25-yard TD, on 3 carries. It was not a good performance by the defense, as usual. At least we can finally take DT Fletcher Cox's picture off the side of milk cartons now. He finally recorded a sack for the first time in the last nine games.
In all, the defense gave up the lead twice in the game and doesn't look anything like the unit that played so well earlier in the season. The Eagles need to upgrade their CBs and find a more consistent pass rusher. Vinnie Curry and his huge contract can now replace Cox on the milk cartons.
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The special teams also didn't have a good game, since the Sproles return was wiped out by Ertz's penalty. With Celek in as the long snapper, his snap was too low and Strugis wasn't able to convert on a FG attempt. Later, Trey Burton had to do the long snapping after Celek was hurt and, luckily, Donnie Jones was able to handle the high snap and Sturgis converted a 41-yard FG. The team might need to find a better option to replace Dorenbos for the reminder of the season.
Pederson also wasted two time outs when he lined up on 4th down to try to draw the defense offsides. Wasting timeouts is the one thing Dougie hadn't done constantly, like his mentor Andy Reid. I get more worried about Pederson with each passing week. He really needs to at least give up play-calling duties. He doesn't seem to be very good at it and it's simply too much for even a seasoned head coach to handle. Doug needs to just concentrate on running the team.....and tutoring Wentz.
What is Wrong with this Eagles Team?
The Wentz drive at the end of the game didn't end well, but it was impressive, nonetheless.
The drive started at the Eagles 25 with 1:53 remaining. Wentz led the 61-yard drive by completing 5 of 9 passes, which included two balls that were thrown away and two other passes that should have been caught by the bad receivers on this roster.
All in all, it was everything I was looking for in an Eagles game to end this season. The Eagles lost the game, which helps their draft position and Wetnz looked good. That's a win-win, even though it included a loss. Does that make any sense?