Eagles take one step forward and two steps back in loss to Kansas City

Jalen Hurts
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts (1) throws a pass in the first half during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Nobody expected the Philadelphia Eagles to win against the Kansas City Chiefs. However, there had to be a visible step forward after Monday night’s embarrassment. The good news is that there was definitely progress. The bad news is that most of it was negated.

Defensive woes

The Eagles have now allowed 40+ points twice in the space of seven days. Sure, both inflicting offenses just so happen to be among the most explosive in the NFL, but it’s not the point.

Through four weeks of play, the Eagles have continued to struggle against the run. That did not change against Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who surpassed 100 rushing yards. Darrell Williams added a further 42 and in total, the Birds surrendered 200 yards on the ground. This absolutely cannot continue. Linebackers are continuously exposed and losing one-on-one matchups in the hole, and tackling in the open field is as messy as it ever was.

Unfortunately, the problems don’t stop there. Derek Barnett’s boneheaded penalties continue to knock the wind out of the defensive sails and a soft-zone shell continues to provide a field day for opposing quarterbacks to pick apart.

Outside of a rogue Mahomes interception, the Chiefs scored a touchdown on every single offensive drive.

It’s too easy.

Smitty gets litty

It wasn’t all bad. On the other side of the ball, rookie wideout DeVonta Smith propelled the offense with a 122-yard outing, marking his first 100+ yard game in the NFL. Those 122 yards rank fifth most in Eagles history by a rookie (per our lovely writer Chris Infante. Credit him next time @NFL Network.)

Smith was cooking the Chiefs defense all day long and that total would’ve been much higher had he not been edged out of bounds on what was a beautiful touchdown catch that was later pulled back.

The Eagles finally have a WR1.

The offense moves forward

It wasn’t perfect, but the Eagles offense did look much more like a unit that was being coordinated and not just a bunch of ‘Ask madden’ plays. Jalen Hurts threw for nearly 400 yards and added a pair of touchdowns while also leading the team in rushing. Unfortunately, it’s that last part that will again stick out.

The Eagles do seem reluctant to run the ball still and the reasoning is really difficult to understand. The Chiefs are one of the worst teams at stopping the run in the entire league and there was no excuse not to emphasize it here. Kenny Gainwell featured heavily, catching 6 passes for 58 Yards and it looks as though Sirianni favors his rushers catching out of the backfield as opposed to running up the gut. Part of that could fall on the offensive line.

There was no Lane Johnson today. The Eagles had 80% of their starting offensive line missing and Jason Kelce was the only starter that remained, just as he did for the majority of last season. The inexperience showed.

Andre Dillard ended up being flagged for an illegal man being down the field, and in total, the offense wiped away three touchdowns with penalties. Some were questionable, others disheartening. There’s a real lack of discipline on the offense, with the team picking up 9 total flags in today’s loss alone.

Inside the red zone, the Eagles were unsurprisingly dreadful and unable to capitalize on their rapid gains down the field. There’s so much meat left on the bone when inside 20 yards and it just feels like rushing the ball becomes a distant memory unless it’s horizontally.

But one positive element we did see introduced was the usage of tight ends on routes over the middle. It’s shocking, I know. Ertz and Goedert combined for a total of 116 yards and a touchdown in a game that looked much closer to what fans are used to seeing.

Next stop, learning to run the ball up the middle in the red zone!

Here’s to hoping the team take another step forward next week before their clash with Carolina. As long as there is some progress that is visible each week, that’s all fans can really ask for.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire