It’s nearly been 24 hours since the Eagles loss to Minnesota, but just how heavy is this loss and how large are the problems facing this team? Let’s take a look at this weeks report card:
There’s still some inevitable rust being shaken off by Carson Wentz, with the franchise quarterback still staring down his primary reads and making some questionable decisions in big moments, but it’s hard to really fault him. Against the Vikings, Wentz averaged 8.9 yards per throw, completing 24/35 passes for 311 yards and a pair of touchdowns, without turning the ball over against a struggling defense that showed up to play on the day. Drops plagued wideouts once again and Wentz wasn’t exactly helped by an offensive line that leaked pressure all night, while his head coach ran the ball six times in the first half. It was all on the shoulders of Wentz from the drop of the green flag and all things considered, he handled it well.
Josh Adams made a peculiar decision to cut inside on a third and short attempt that would’ve otherwise been successful and that sums up everything neatly. Jay Ajayi ran hard…but the problem was he touched the ball 8 times, fumbled once and voiced his frustration after the game. Wendell Smallwood had a fantastic outing to show his growing versatility, something that was previously unheard of in his game. Smallwood’s somewhat breakout (of 44 receiving yards, 1 TD and 2-pt conversion along with 27 rushing yards) saved an otherwise disastrous day.
Can we just skip this one? No? Fine. The offensive line seemed doomed from the moment they benched Wisniewski and gave Seumalo the start at left guard. Lane Johnson gave up a horrendous play and has now allowed more pressures than every single tackle in the league with the exception of two. To put it simply, the play has been absolutely dreadful.
Zach Ertz notched his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game and hauled in a beautiful touchdown that even the most elegant of wideouts would struggle to make look simple. Dallas Goedert was largely a non-factor until the Eagles attacked the second half with a bunch of 12 personnel formations to open up the run while Josh Perkins was nowhere to be seen. Ertz carried the workload but Goedert’s run-blocking was key in setting the tone…before Ajayi ruined it.
This is the first time all season that four receivers have caught a pass from Carson Wentz. The offense is finally finding its identity as a multi dimensional nightmare, with Shelton Gibson finally proving he can take the top off on a 48-yard reception. The problem is, everybody else was massively marginalized and this forced Wentz to rely on Ertz. The makings of a resurgence are there however.
Considering that Derek Barnett was injured, the Eagles defensive front made life extremely difficult for Kirk Cousins, hitting him 11 times. They were only able to bring him down once as the Vikes adapted a similar gameplan to the Eagles previous opponents, getting the ball out quickly and absorbing pressures to execute screens. There’s not much else you can ass the Eagles pass rush to do other than win at the line and they do that time in and time out. It just comes down to finishing, which is extremely difficult when the ball is out so fast.
Nigel Bradham was back to his elite ways with some big plays in key moments, while Jordan Hicks seems to be doing what Jordan Hicks does best. Staying out of the spotlight but making huge stops over and over, leading the team in tackles again. The Eagles linebackers are tasked with a lot considering the adjustment to life without McLeod, but they’re handling it relatively well.
Sidney Jones whiffed on some big tackles, Jalen Mills chirped at Adam Thielen after making ONE play just moments after giving up a huge reception, which led to Fletcher Cox practically shoving him off the field. Ronald Darby missed tackles among some moments of promise but for what feels like the fifth week in a row, the corners struggled. Cousins got the ball out so quickly, he was almost daring the corners to come charging down to the line.
Malcolm Jenkins was flying around the field in his usual way and to be fair to Avonte Maddox, he actually played a sound game considering it’s his second ever game at safety and his first ever NFL start. A trial by fire but one the safeties actually handled impressively.
There isn’t really much to shrug at here, Cam Johnston has become one of the most dangerous punters around and Jake Elliott was 100% on the day, very nearly kicking an onside kick into favor of the Eagles.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports