The Eagles defense gave up 38 points, not 24

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)

Nick Sirianni addressed the media in Glendale, Arizona after the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII. The emotion of a devastating loss was raw.

When asked about the effort of his defense in the 38-35 heartbreaker, the second-year head coach spoke positively.

“We’re playing a really good offense, and we gave up 24 points at the end of the day,” he said.

Sirianni is an offensive coach. His ability to delegate responsibilities to coordinators and other assistants is an excellent mark of his leadership abilities. Jonathan Gannon was the defensive coordinator making the schematic decisions on defense, but Sirianni has repeatedly emphasized that he signs off on everything as the head coach of the team.

In this case, he was entirely off base giving his defense credit for allowing only 24 points to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Flawed Logic

“I just felt like a couple times we put the defense in tough spot,” Sirianni told the media.

He wasn’t wrong. Jalen Hurts dropped the football on a regrettable play in the second quarter that Nick Bolton took for the scoop and score. Kadarius Toney returned a bad punt from Arryn Siposs for 65 yards to set the Chiefs up at the Philadelphia 4-yard line for another touchdown.

However, subtracting two touchdowns from 38 and landing on a final answer of 24 is oversimplified, flawed logic that shouldn’t play into the evaluation of the Eagles on defense in their Super Bowl loss.

To begin with, 24 is above the league average of 21.9 for the season. Only eight NFL teams averaged more than 24 points, and the Eagles only allowed 19.8 points per game in 2022.

Secondly, Sirianni should not absolve the Philadelphia defense for allowing the 4-yard touchdown set up by the long punt return. The pass to Skyy Moore for the score was the second time in as many drives that a Kansas City wide receiver walked into the end zone untouched on a blown coverage.

“We knew they played man (coverage) down in the red zone like that, so it was heavy man coverage at that point of the field. Coach (Joe) Bleymaier had been harping on it all week. Throughout the week, we knew we were going to get that look,” Moore said about the touchdown.

Andy Reid outmaneuvered Gannon in the Super Bowl, and the image of Moore strolling into the end zone is consistent with the narrative of a defensive unit that was helpless against its competition.

Most importantly, the flawed logic essentially ignores the fact that the Chiefs would’ve had two additional possessions if the fumble and the punt return hadn’t occurred. Mahomes didn’t need to orchestrate long drives because of the big plays made on defense and special teams.

Because of the quick score on the fumble return, the Eagles actually held the ball for nearly 22 out of 30 minutes in the first half. The play meant seven points for Kansas City, but it also meant one less time that the defense faced Mahomes and the high-powered attack.

Kansas City put on an offensive clinic in the second half, and they looked perfectly capable of going the length of the field if the punt return hadn’t occurred.

Would the defense have gotten two stops on two extra possessions if the Chiefs got the ball in reasonable field position both times? The notion of a 24-point effort assumes they would have.

The Eagles also forced a field goal on the final possession of the game when a touchdown actually would’ve been a better outcome. Jerick McKinnon intentionally slid at the 1-yard line to allow the Chiefs to get three points and keep the Philadelphia offense off the field instead of taking the easy touchdown.

Eagles Defense Came Up Small

The Eagles lost Super Bowl LVII because their defense had no answers for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. Their vaunted pass rush became a non-factor for the entire game. An NFL-best 70 sacks translated to nothing on the biggest stage.

They recorded no sacks and forced no turnovers for the first time all season.

Gannon passed every test he faced on the way to becoming an NFC Champion, but he failed the final exam against the best quarterback in the NFL and missed an opportunity to cement his greatness in Philadelphia history in his last game with the Eagles.

The Eagles won the Super Bowl five years ago despite allowing 505 passing yards and 33 points to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. However, they made enough key plays to put the team in position to win.

The legendary strip sack from Brandon Graham will go down as the most important play in franchise history. The defense benefited from Brady dropping a fourth-down pass in Super Bowl LII, and they forced three field goal attempts by Steven Gostkowski.

The defense on Sunday came up with no stops in the second half. Their only hope was for the officials to ignore a ticky-tack penalty on the only clutch play they made all night, and they didn’t get that stroke of good luck.

Hurts and the offense weren’t innocent, but they moved the ball consistently and scored 35 points. Their defense allowed 38 and failed to put the ball back in the hands of a red-hot quarterback for a chance to win.

The credit of holding the Chiefs to 24 points simply isn’t a realistic evaluation.

Nick Sirianni in 2022

Professional head coaches have a difficult time gripping their emotions in press conferences under normal circumstances, and this circumstance was anything but normal. 

Nick Sirianni has the backs of his players and his staff. A few lines of coach speak at the end of an excellent season don’t spoil anything as long as the notion doesn’t contribute to any offseason strategy based on the evaluation of a strong defensive effort in the Super Bowl.

Sirianni avoided blaming the officials as a weak excuse like the ones the San Francisco came up with after a loss in the NFC Championship Game. He remained positive in a difficult spot and took accountability for some of the mistakes the Eagles made. He took the same attitude in the only other game the Eagles lost with Jalen Hurts on the field this season.

After a poorly-officiated loss to Washington in Week 10, Sirianni said, “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.

He wasn’t as harsh on Sunday night after a disappointing loss of such high magnitude, and the Eagles didn’t play like crap in Super Bowl LVII. However, his attitude reflected the same mentality of making your own luck and controlling the things you can control.

He coached an excellent team to an excellent season and fell barely short of the sport’s ultimate prize.

“We’ll use this pain. We’ll use this failure to motivate us,” Sirianni said to the media in Glendale.

The Philadelphia fan base will have to wait to see the product of that motivation in September.

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire