For the first time in a long time the Eagles have tasted defeat. As a fan, I almost forgot what it felt like but as the final seconds ticked off the clock on Sunday defeat set in and the feeling was just as miserable as I remember. You never want to lose a game, especially a game that was thought to be the easiest on the schedule. Tampa just so happens to be playing really well right now and the Eagles are just trying to tread water, at least offensively. It is still very early in the season however. Here are some of the things to takeaway from Sunday’s game.
1. Too much on Foles shoulders
Foles has really looked out of sync so far this year. He did play well on Sunday but there’s no vertical threat to this offense. He was not being aggressive and not really even trying to push the ball down the field, at least not as much as we are accustomed to him doing. Nick is obviously not operating with his full cast here and for that very reason you cannot ask him to throw the ball 48 times as was the case on Sunday. That aspect of this game was eerily reminiscent to last years game 2 loss when Carson Wentz threw the ball 46 times against the Chiefs. After that game there was much more balance on offense and I would expect the same going forward this year.
2. Injuries are becoming a major concern on offense
The offense has yet to find its’ groove but you can chalk that up to key pieces such as Alshon Jeffery and Darren Sproles missing the game and Mack Hollins done for maybe the year. Things got even worse on Sunday when Jay Ajayi, Mike Wallace and Jason Peters all went down. jayi returned later in the game but only for a couple of carries and back injuries for a player with his running style could be worrisome.
Wallace is going to be out for an extended period, if not the season, and we all know the drill with Peters where he is going to miss games and miss series and quarters throughout the season. Things are getting a little dire here now. The Eagles are in desperate need of a wide receiver and Howie will be calling all teams and looking at everyone available. It’s asking a lot of Carson to come in here and carry the offense but we are really going to get a good look at his evolution if he is able to do it. Carson obviously took a huge step last year but if he’s able to come in here, coming off an injury, and take a banged up offense and make it dynamic again then we should all get ready to contend for championships for the next 10 years.
3. Where’s the help?
After almost abandoning the run on Sunday the offense basically relied on 2 players, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor. Everyone outside of that was largely absent. I’m going to assume Doug will rely more on the run game in the coming weeks as the receiving weapons get healthy but something has to improve here. Where was Dallas Goedert? He should be an integral part of this offense, especially now with all the reliable targets going down and he’s nowhere to be found. Expect him to step up going forward and expect Howie to be very active on the phone lines. Josh Gordon isn’t coming but don’t be surprised if Howie trades for another big weapon, only this year it will be at receiver. Whatever happens, they can’t keep trotting out Josh Perkins and Kamar Aiken.
4. Corey Clement flat out produces
Just get the ball in that guy’s hands. On Sunday Clement had 6 carries for 30 yards and a touchdown along with 5 receptions for 55 year, not to mention a couple punt returns. Going forward he should start taking a couple of Sproles’ catches and all of Smallwoods carries and be a bigger part of the offense. This guy could be the Eagles starting running back next year. Maybe not in a feature roll but at least the head of the committee.
5. Curse of DeSean Jackson
After being unceremoniously released by the team, once again DeSean Jackson came back to exact some revenge. DeSean has always been pissed about his release and tries to take it out on the Eagles every time they play and Sunday was no different. I missed the first few seconds of the game only to walk in the room and see DeSean already scampering into the end zone leaving myself, and I’m sure many of you, simply shaking our heads. Jackson is now 5-1 against the Eagles since leaving and has four 100 yards games. I loved DeSean, you loved DeSean, we all loved DeSean but this guy needs to go away already because he kills the Eagles almost every time they play him. We’re sorry DeSean! Leave us alone!
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As if we didn’t all already consider the Bucs game a win when the schedule came out, we wrote a huge “W” in pen next to it after finding out that Jameis Winston wouldn’t be playing. Well I will be the first one to eat crow and say that I was flat out wrong. Fitzpatrick has always been a streaky player but we’ve never seen even a 2 game run as good as the way he’s started off this season. After torching a very good Saints defense in week 1, he comes out and drops 402 yards and 4 touchdowns on the Eagles. (Simply writing those stats out has me squinting and shaking my head) He’s red hot right now and the Eagles ran into him at the wrong time. Tip your cap to the guy. He deserves to keep that job going forward.
7. Run D again outstanding
A week after holding the Falcons to 74 rushing yards as a team, the Eagles held Tampa Bay to only 43 yards. Peyton Barber rushed 16 times for only 22 yards. his was a strength of the team last year and it’s good to see that it continues to be a strength. A strong run defense is needed to win those grind-it-out games in December.
8. Mills taking his lumps
Jalen Mills is probably the most polarizing player on the team right now. Some people love his swagger, tenacity and toughness that he brings to a position that for so long was an eyesore here, while others loathe him for his gambling and propensity to give up big plays. Even taking the 75 yard Jackson touchdown out of it (I think we all agree that was Jenkins fault) Mills was routinely picked on on Sunday with great success. We’ve seen him play very well at times but Sunday was certainly not one of those days. I’d love to ask Schwartz why he has his corners play so far off. If the game plan is for a “bend but don’t break” style of defense then maybe the wrong person is being blamed for this. Even so, a “bend but don’t break” defense shouldn’t be giving up two 75 yard touchdowns.
9. Special teams highs and lows
Put the pressure on him and Jake Elliott is money but those boring, mid game kicks don’t really excite him apparently. He needs to be more consistent. Those extra 3 points would have helped late in that game. Cameron Johnston however has been a revelation. What a weapon this guy has been! He put 3 of his 5 punts inside the 20 for a guy that was supposed to have directional and touch issues. He also bombed a punt 65 yards. He’s changed field position in both games so far. It’s nice to see the position in good hands for the future.
*Takeaway of the Game*
10. Didn’t get up for a September game in Tampa
The Eagles have been playing so many consecutive games that were of varying levels of importance. From winning the division, to clinching a bye, to winning the Super Bowl and defending their house on opening night, Sunday’s loss just looked like a game they took for granted. They thought they could coast and even after DeSean’s 75 yard opening play touchdown you didn’t see a sense of urgency on either side of the ball till the Eagles pulled within a touchdown late in the game. It was a nice slice of humble pie for a team that probably overlooked their inferior opponent. The Eagles even won important game stats such as turnovers 2-1 (not counting the Eagles last second fumble) and time of possession 35 minutes to 24 minutes. Those are usually telling stats as to who will win the game and the Eagles trailed all day on Sunday. They got smacked in the mouth and hopefully it shows them that they aren’t invincible. Expect a more focused bunch on Sunday against the Colts
Sunday’s loss was definitely unexpected and disheartening for a team that is going to need every win possible to get good playoff seeding in a tight NFC. This should have been a cake walk and they let it slip through their hands. Going forward, Carson Wentz is officially back! His return is coming at a great time coming off a loss and with the offense struggling. You can bet that when 11 takes the field against the Colts that Wentzlyvania will be rocking.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports