That was ugly. The Eagles were humbled by the Saints in a crushing 48-7 loss that raised more questions than answers. Here are five of the biggest questions on the lips of Eagles fans tonight and the answers you need to help turn your workplace into a sports debate show on Monday morning!
What happened to the Defense?
We all know that the Eagles defense has been struggling in recent weeks for a variety of reasons. From injuries to missed tackles, there’s been plenty of misfires along the way that have only been highlighted by a lack of adjustment from Jim Schwartz. But at what point did it go from a minor concern, to allowing 48 points and a net -350 yard differential?
To start with, there’s the injuries. Losing Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas sounds bad in itself, but these were players forced into action due to injuries already affecting the secondary (apart from Jones who may have been pushed into deeper waters instead). During the second half, the Eagles secondary was literally something you’d seen in week 4 of preseason. UDFA’s, practice squad promotees and names getting their first taste of NFL regular season football against a team who wouldn’t stop punching them in the mouth. Oh and to make matters worse, they left Deiondre Hall inactive.
Then, there’s the communication. With that much change, there’s bound to be communication issues and the Saints preyed on that inexperience with plenty of jet motion and little wrinkles to throw off the defense and create big plays…and it worked.
Thirdly, the efficiency itself. Missed tackles, blowing assignments and the fact that the pass-rush HIT Drew Brees ONCE and failed to sack him speaks volumes. We’ll dive much deeper into this over the coming days, but the defense simply didn’t execute due to a variety of reasons…some are obvious, others need a little more digging. What’s visible to the naked eye is that the unit was absolutely abysmal.
Who will the Eagles bring in?
The Birds are bound to bring in some help to try and patch the huge bullet wounds in the secondary, but until tomorrow when we know the extent of the injuries sustained, we won’t know the level of desperation the team will be facing. But, look for familiar names. Anyone with playbook knowledge at this stage is going to be invaluable, which means that the name Dexter McDougle, may pop back onto your screens again soon. Don’t write off someone like Brandon Boykin, a veteran and former Eagle. The unit is being led purely by practice squad members and undrafted free agents on the field right now and the experience of a player who’s been there and done it all could be extremely helpful, just as Stephen Tulloch was to the linebacker corps.
Where’s Golden Tate?
After a quiet first game in midnight green, all signs pointed towards a more explosive outing from Golden Tate against the Saints, especially considering he has tallied an average of 110 yards in his last four games against New Orleans, catching 5 touchdowns in the process.
Through two games with the Eagles, it’s not looking great on the surface. Tate has caught 7 passes for 67 yards, with a longest of 15. He’s returned 3 punts for 9 yards and has 1 rush for -8.
Although it may not have seemed like it because of how bad the offense was, Golden Tate actually was the most productive receiver on the team on Sunday.
Maybe Tate’s inclusion really is a non-factor after all since he was targeted the same amount as Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz combined.
What’s wrong with Carson Wentz?
This is a tricky one, but something isn’t right with Wentz and it doesn’t take a genius to work that out. Throwing 2 picks and throwing for less than 200 yards, Wentz was as wobbly as we’ve ever seen him on Sunday. In fact, a streak of 22 consecutive games with a touchdown came to an abrupt end.
To put it simply (as there will be a much deeper video analysis piece coming), I feel like Wentz is letting his frustrations get the better of him. We’ve seen several occasions this year in which he’s lashed out at a door or had a brief moment of anger. But the video below took it to a whole new level.
This is the most upset Ive ever seen Carson Wentz
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) November 18, 2018
That ‘one play mentality’ and serenity that makes Wentz so special has been replaced by rage and frustration, or at least so it seems. As a result, old habits are resurfacing. His footwork was far more static in the loss to New Orleans, he was staring down receivers and forcing the ball into holes that weren’t there, missing open targets elsewhere. These were all traits that had all been rapidly ironed out from his game.
Again, I’ll dive much deeper into this theory over the coming weeks so stay tuned.
Is this down to the coaching staff?
But not for the reason you think.
Forget play calling or anything scheme related right now for any coach or coordinator. You have a roster of 53 players entering the biggest game of the year after losing to their biggest rival on national television. This was a game where the Saints were reportedly preparing for a ‘breakout’ from an angry Super Bowl championship team. What the Saints instead experienced was an error-filled slop fest with players showing their frustrations all too frequently and collapse under their own weight. That’s coaching.
That comes down to a coaches ability to rally the troops, motivate the team and keep a consistent message, something that just hasn’t been done this season.
There’ll be plenty more on this over the coming days, so make sure you’re checking Philly Sports Network regularly!
Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports