Instant analysis: Eagles take one step forward & two steps back in week 5

NFL: OCT 04 Eagles at 49ers
SANTA CLARA, CA – OCTOBER 04: Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz (11) throws a pass during the NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on October 4, 2020 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire)

It was a game where momentum was a pendulum, but ultimately it was the Steelers who came out on top when the clock stopped ticking. The Eagles gave Pittsburgh all they could handle in the 38-29 loss, but it wasn’t enough to get the job done. Here are some quick takeaways from the matchup.

Fulgmeister General

If there was ever a gleaming positive to take from today’s game, it’s that the Eagles might have a new star in town. Travis Fulgham used last week’s 42-yard TD snag as a way to foreshadow his week 5 outing. Leading the team with 154 yards and another touchdown grab, Fulgham’s breakout set Eagles twitter ablaze.

Against a defense that ranks toward the top in nearly every statistical category, Fulgham, who was only acquired in August, has risen through the ranks and single-handedly helped keep the Eagles’ offensive fire burning. In fact, he had more receiving yards than every other Eagle combined (124).

Fulgham making the #13 look great again by hauling in nearly everything thrown his way is the most pleasant surprise of the season so far. With Reagor nearing full health, the idea of the damage these two could cause is tantalizing.

Wentz moves the Eagles offense forward

He wasn’t perfect and there were clearly still some kinks showing in his play, but Wentz took another step forward this week and expressed a real sense of confidence in his army of underdogs. With a lot of duress from an aggressive pass-rush, Wentz completed 20/35 passes for 258 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT, although both picks were circumstantial. One saw Zach Ertz get bumped at the top of his route and another was a late ‘chuck it up and hope for the best’.

Wentz was much smarter with the ball in hands this week and averaged his highest yards per attempt all season.

Darius Slay and who?

The Eagles defense let the team down today, as it always seems to whenever the offense produces. (Ironically enough, that switches whenever the offense struggles). Battered and bruised, they gave up a season-high 38 points.

Outside of Darius Slay, who played his heart out, the defense really struggled. Rookie wideout Chase Claypool scored a hat-trick of Touchdowns on 11 targets to go with 110 yards.

Situationally, the defense was bad. In the red zone, the Steelers were 3 for 3 and the team allowed 11 of 15 third-down attempts to be complete. There were a lot of chances for the defense to turn the tide in this game and complacent play-calling, sloppy penalties, and a lack of talent on the back end cost them.

The Eagles saved the secondary when they traded for Darius Slay. In cutting Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas, both of whom are thriving elsewhere, and going all-in on an undersized Avonte Maddox at CB2 with no depth behind, they’re once again relegated to Jalen Mills playing corner, barking in players faces after being toasted like a marshmallow just a few plays before. Poor roster management really showed up here.

Where oh where is Eagles TE Zach Ertz?

6. That’s how many yards Zach Ertz put up today. He amassed 9 last week. This isn’t about Dallas Goedert, or double teams, or anything else. Ertz looks emotionally dejected on the field. The effort we’ve come to know and love isn’t there and now in a scenario where Carson Wentz needs his security blanket, he appears to have his mind elsewhere.

Are we reading too much into this or has Zach Ertz just lost his heart due to the contract negotiation breakdown earlier this offseason? Either way, he’s not doing himself or the team much good right now.

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Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire