The Eagles head into halftime tied with the Carolina Panthers at 10-10 after an impressive defensive stand from the road team. It’s been a fiery affair for Thursday Night Football and a game that’s still very much winnable…but the Eagles have to get out of their own way in order to come out of this matchup atop the NFC.
To begin with, the Eagles have to get out of their own way. They’re on the road, they’re fatigued after a game on Sunday and are facing the same referee team who made some questionable calls in the loss to Detroit last year. But that’s no excuse for the five penalties handed to the Eagles for a total of 56 yards. Were they questionable? In some cases yes. In comparison to Carolina’s ZERO penalties…it’s clear the team’s discipline has to improve.
A muffed punt recovered by Patrick Robinson was the tip of the iceberg. As things stand, the Eagles have been on the edge of pushing past this Carolina team, but they have to push past themselves first.
Missing Lane Johnson:
Halapoulivaati Vaitai started in place of Lane Johnson and so far, not so good. The Panthers have done everything they can to exploit the right hand side of the offensive line and it’s worked. With 3 sacks, a forced fumble and 6 QB hits so far, the Panthers have worked Vaitai with ease. Julius Peppers set a trend that Shaq Thompson and company would continue. The Birds HAVE to keep Carson Wentz upright if they are to prevail.
The offense is 4/8 on third down going into halftime and under constant duress, the quarterback looks a little more unsettled than usual. Passes begin to sail, receivers are being stared down and he’s taking hit after hit. It’s not a good look from a lack of pass protecting backs, but the Birds HAVE to do better up front.
Harassing the Panthers:
As things stand, Curtis Samuel is the only Panthers (not running back) player with positive rushing yardage other than Cam Newton. Jonathan Stewart? 4 carries for -5 yards. Both McCaffrey and Whittaker were accountable for negative yardage too. The Eagles run Defense has been terrifying and a Fletcher Cox marauding play led to the second career pick for Rasul Douglas.
The Defense has been outstanding overall and showed their prowess by forcing the Panthers out of field goal range to end the half. If anybody can win this game for the Eagles, it’s Jim Schwartz and his angry unit.
After attempting to call a timeout that negated a first down, much was said of Pederson’s play calling. With the intention of saving an expiring play clock, Pederson simply made the call too late. However he made up for it after Douglas’ pick. The Eagles ran the ball five consecutive times inside the ten to burn down the clock and give the Panthers just over two minutes to work with. It’s 10-10 and the Eagles still lead time of possession. Don’t hit the panic button yet.
Nigel Bradham is EASILY the game’s first half MVP. More on that in our full-time analysis.
Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports