Well, that was ugly. The Philadelphia Eagles fell to the Las Vegas Raiders to the tune of 33-22, but the game was much uglier before the typical fourth quarter storm. Here’s everything you need to know.
Believe it or not, the Eagles actually started out hot…and actually ran the ball!! Jalen Hurts found Kenny Gainwell on a 13-yard dart after Miles Sanders pushed the Birds down the field, amassing five carries and 25 yards. Hurts ran the show from under center as opposed to out of the shotgun and it looked like the winds of change were blowing…until the winds turned into a hurricane and it swept up Miles Sanders.
The Penn State product left the game shortly after with an ankle injury and never returned. It was down to Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott to carry the load, but again, Hurts ended up as the leading rusher as drive by drive, the offense descended into old habits.
Here’s to hoping things do stabalize in the coming weeks and that a new-found commitment to running the ball wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
The defense struggles to…defend
The Eagles defense wasn’t terrible against the Raiders, it’s just that the real flaw has become apparent. The scheme is predicated on allowing linebackers to sit in zone coverage and instinctively read and react. Unfortunately, the processing times haven’t improved and it’s led to opposing offenses running riot. Even without Darren Waller, the Raiders were still able to do most of their damage over the middle.
Backup TE Foster Moreau led the Raiders in receiving with 60 yards and a touchdown, while Hunter Renfrow put up 58 of his own. It became clear that Gannon’s defense itself might well be schematically sound (kind of) and is just missing the pieces for it to function properly.
Watching the Raiders fly up the field in a matter of seconds to score their second touchdown of the day faster than you can say the word ‘linebacker’ was terrifying.
So then opens the discussion of talent vs scheme. Should the coach bend his scheme to fit his talent? Absolutely. Is it happening? It’s hard to say. But you can see that the front office have sought cheap project LB’s with the athletic upside that the scheme clearly demands, as opposed to paying a premium up front for it. They’re now beginning to pay the price.
Nick Sirianni accepting a penalty early on that moved the Raiders to 3rd-and-long instead of 4th-and-3 that then turned into a huge 40+ yard pass is the perfect synopsis of a rookie coach struggling to find his way, even if that drive ended with an interception.
Jonathan Gannon’s defense lacked any kind of unpredictability and the offense was filled with the same old woes that led to the classic fourth quarter rally that showcased just enough upside to keep you coming back for more, only to regret it next Sunday.
Sirianni needs help play-calling so he can focus on the coaching side of things. There’s no shame in admitting that, but the risk in not doing so is more atrocities like the ones experienced tonight.
The leash on Jalen Hurts
It’s been the same old story for the past month now. I’m all for giving Hurts a long leash and as much time as he needs, provided that there is a significant step forward by the end of the year, and we’re seeing gradual improvements throughout. That’s not happening.
If anything, we’re seeing regression in key areas. The fumble at the goal-line was embarrassing to say the last and the myriad of missed deep shots isn’t exactly new. Is it on coaching? Maybe, but Hurts saying all the right things only to look exactly the same week after week isn’t sustainable.
With those draft picks looking ever juicer, the leash may be getting tighter as the weeks go by.
Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire