Eww. Maybe those Thursday night games really are a bad idea. Both teams looked awful; lots of mental errors and sloppy mistakes.
The upshot, of course, is that the Eagles are now 1-2, and head to Denver next week, which is a likely loss. As a result, I expect to see people jumping off the bandwagon at a steadily increasing pace over the next two weeks. Me? I’m staying.
The ultimate question is: Are the Eagles bad players or are they playing badly? The short answer is that we don’t know. Some players we thought would be good might not be (Todd Herremans?). However, each the following factors played a significant role in at least one of the Eagles’ losses:
– Muffed punt.
– Ass-Snap (what I’m calling the Kelce debacle from last night)
– Multiple illegal formation penalties on the O-Line.
– Poor clock management
Notice the similarity? They’re each INTERNAL problems that have nothing to do with talent. In theory, the Eagles can fix every one of them. That’s what I mean when I say “playing badly”. While the Eagles certainly need some talent upgrades at multiple positions, that isn’t why they’ve lost 2 games.
So, I think the best way to proceed is to split the good notes from the bad. Which do you want to see first? Thought so.
– Since 2008, NFL teams have converted on:
3rd and 10 – 20.7%
3rd and 15 – 10.8%
3rd and 19 – 7.0%
The Eagles allowed the Chiefs to convert one of each of the above situations. It was the most frustrating part of the game. I’m not going to go into it in great detail here, I’m assuming the play-diagrammers will handle that (if not I’ll put one up next week). However, those stats (pro-football-reference.com) prove what we already knew…on 3rd and 10 or longer, the Defense MUST get off the field. Those situation don’t require anything special. Playing your base defense and tackling should come close to assuring the offense doesn’t pick up the required yardage.
Allow 3 such conversions is just terrible defensive play.
– According to the NFL game book, Vinny Curry played just 12 defensive snaps. (I’ll just let that one simmer).
– Zach Ertz, he of the high second round pick, had just 1 reception for 5 yards. Through 3 games, he has 4 catches on just 6 targets. Given where he was selected, he HAS to have a bigger impact. His blocking needs to improve before the team can put him on the line, but his receiving skills are supposed to be excellent. So….where are they?
– Michael Vick looked like Michael Vick. Hate to say “I told you so”, but I stressed this throughout the preseason: Vick is going to have games like last night. It’s inevitable. He doesn’t make progressions, holds the ball too long, doesn’t move well in the pocket, has a lot of balls tipped at the line, and consistently doesn’t see open check-down receivers. Those are his weaknesses; it’s unfortunate that we saw all of them last night. It’s rare that he’ll play that poorly, but you have to expect it at least 2-3 times per season.
– The offensive line struggled. Another one of my preseason themes was that, if the Eagles are going to contend for a playoff spot, the Offensive line has to be the strongest position group on the team. I do have to note that they were playing against a VERY good defensive line last night. Tamba Hali is really good, Dontari Poe looks like he’ll actually be a disruptive player, and I don’t know who Justin Houston is, but he already has 22 career sacks in just 35 career games. Still, the line needs to be much better, and as we get further into the season, it becomes less likely it’ll get there.
There’s a lot more “Bad” from last night, but I’d like to have a good weekend, so I’m going to move onto the other side.
– A number 1, as I explained at the top, the Eagles have beat themselves! That’s little consolation when it comes to the W-L record, but the fact is, it DOES matter how you lose. The Eagles are not losing on skill. That means it’s possible for the team to stop hurting itself and win a bunch of games.
– This is still the NFC East. It’s early, but it looks like nobody in the division will truly be eliminated until they lose their 9th game.
– The Eagles played TERRIBLY against a good defense and scored 16 points. That’s not a bad scoring “floor”. For reference, last season the Eagles scored fewer than 16 points SIX times. Once the defense gets fully built, it will be very difficult to outscore this team.
– The Eagles next stretch of games looks a lot less daunting than originally thought. Playing the Broncos in Denver is very difficult, but the key to this stretch was that the Eagles THEN play the Giants and Bucs, both on the road. Granted, if the Eagles play as poorly as they did last night, they can lose to anyone. However, road games against the Giants and Bucs don’t look nearly as bad now as they did before the season started. It still looks like the Eagles come out of it at 2-4, but 3-3 is at least foreseeable.
I promise there’s more good, but I’ve gotta go catch a flight to New Orleans. Moral of the story: It’s too early to panic.