Eagles’ Nick Sirianni not blaming refs for Monday’s disappointing loss

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 27: Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni during the National Football League preseason game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 27, 2021 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles walked through a sloppy loss against Washington at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday Night Football. They committed four turnovers in their first loss of the season.

The officials called two questionable personal foul penalties that cut the Eagles’ knees from under them during a late comeback attempt. They also missed a blatant personal foul that would’ve nullified a fumble by Dallas Goedert.

Nick Sirianni spoke with a tone of accountability at the podium after the game and acknowledged the loss for what it was. A defeat at the hands of the worst franchise in the NFL was frustrating and brutal to watch. However, it doesn’t define a season for a Super Bowl contender, and it isn’t just a testament to bad officiating.

Sirianni Not Using Scapegoats

Blaming the officials for a loss is never a worthwhile attitude, regardless of how badly they might’ve missed key calls.

C.J. Gardner Johnson hit Curtis Samuel in bounds early in the fourth quarter and got called for unnecessary roughness. There is zero question that Jamin Davis grasped Goedert’s facemask before a costly fumble. Brandon Graham committed one of the softest roughing the passer penalties you’ll ever see in the NFL.

Sirianni simply wasn’t interested in complaining about the officials after the game.

“Whether the calls were bad or whether the calls were good or whatever it was, I think when you play the way we did tonight, and you play the way we did on all three phases, offense, defense, special teams, coaching… It seems like everything is going against you. You create your own luck, and we played like crap,” he said.

Instead of focusing on an egregious missed call on a play that landed Goedert on injured reserve, the second-year head coach brought up an element of the game that his team can control.

“We’ve got to have better ball security there. We take a lot of pride in how we protect the football. We were obviously loose with it,” he said about the key momentum changer.

He addressed another fluky play when Quez Watkins fumbled trying to extend a 50-yard reception.

“You’re susceptible getting off the ground… We’re also aware that the defense is taught to take a swipe at that ball when you’re getting up off the ground.”

“Coach speak” is common for a reason. NFL coaches know that maintaining accountability and focusing on controllable circumstances helps teams recover. Pointing fingers at officials does not.

Eagles Not Innocent

Zach Berman spoke as a guest on the John Kincade Show on 97.5 The Fanatic about how the Eagles shouldered the blame rather than focusing on bad officiating or bad bounces.

“There was an acknowledgment in the locker room last night that yes, they did have some bad calls that went against them, but that’s not why they lost this game. They lost this game because they couldn’t get off the field on defense. They lost this game because they had costly turnovers and, frankly, untimely three-and-outs on offense, and they didn’t play well on special teams either. This was around the board, all sides of the ball,” he said.

Berman pointed out that John Ridgeway deliberately forced the Goedert fumble with an excellent strip. The play was an example of Washington making their own luck.

Graham is a 13-year veteran defensive end who has experienced the ups and downs of the NFL. He is no stranger to the constant overprotective officiating of hits on NFL quarterbacks. Just over a month ago, the Super Bowl LII hero spoke about a weak roughing the passer penalty on Atlanta Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett and how he feared a similar call might cost the Eagles. 

The fear apparently didn’t stop him from committing the ticky-tack foul.

Concerns Moving Forward

The John Kincade Show also discussed a sense of malaise within the home crowd on Monday. The seemingly constant night games have changed the atmosphere at the Linc. The Eagles also played just two games in 28 days between a win against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 16 and the loss to Washington.

The sloppy loss won’t be detrimental to the 2022 season. The crowd will return to hysteria as the Eagles still sit in the driver’s seat to earn the top seed in the NFC entering the real meat of the NFL season. 

Two real concerns need to be addressed following the loss, however. Goedert will miss “extensive time” with a shoulder injury. His emergence as a top-tier tight end has provided the Eagles with an excellent security blanket and a luxury that few NFL teams have.

Grant Calcaterra, Tyree Jackson, and Jack Stoll lack significant NFL track records at one of the thinnest positions on the Philadelphia roster.

The rush defense allowed 152 yards on 49 carries. Washington showed persistence to feed the effective rushing attack despite their underwhelming 3.1 yards per carry. Their ground game consistently moved the chains, especially in third-down situations.

Jordan Davis remains sidelined with an ankle injury. He is not eligible to play until at least Dec. 4. The Eagles have allowed 320 yards on the ground in the two games he’s missed.

A Super Bowl contender with an attitude of resiliency cannot allow a unit to falter because of an injury to a rookie who has never played more than 42% of the defensive snaps in his seven NFL games.

The Eagles will need to adjust to the unfortunate absence and make their own luck, just like Sirianni encouraged on Monday night by saying, “We’ve started 8-0 together. We lost this game together, and we’re going to move on together.”

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire