Broken Record: Birds Toppled by Seahawks, Russ Again
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Eagles on Monday night had trouble moving the ball, had trouble protecting the quarterback, had trouble defending the other team’s wide receiver, and had trouble executing fairly basic offensive concepts.
Amazingly, they were in the game until the fourth quarter, which is probably why Doug Pederson didn’t pull his struggling quarterback, Carson Wentz, and go for Jalen Hurts. But the end result was the same as most of their games this year, a lethargic loss that left more questions than answers.
The Eagles fell 20-9 at The Linc to the Seahawks, who scored early touchdowns on a David Moore catch and Chris Carson run, then settled for three Jason Myers field goals in the second half to stave off an Eagles team that was once again dogged by execution breakdowns and curious coaching calls.
Down by 11 in the fourth, Doug Pederson opted to keep his offense on the field at the Seattle 15 instead of kicking the field goal to make a one-possession deficit. Wentz threw an interception in the end zone, killing the team’s momentum.
All that made it close was 32-yard prayer touchdown from Wentz to his favorite target, backup tight end Richard Rodgers, to whittle Seattle’s lead down to 8 with 12 seconds to play. Miles Sanders’ two-point conversion made it six.
The Eagles (3-7-1) have lost three in a row, five out of seven and are sinking from first to last in an awful decision. Russell Wilson improved to 5-0 against the Eagles for his career, 6-0 counting the playoffs, as Seattle (8-3) took first place in the NFC West.
On with the observations:
1. Wentz was far from perfect and missed opportunities, but he also did just enough to stay on the field and avoid having Jalen Hurts replace him. He didn’t fumble and he didn’t turn the ball over until way late in the game. He guided a touchdown drive right before the end of the half, cutting the score to 14-6, which should’ve been 14-7 if Jake Elliott makes a simple point-after attempt. Wentz led another good drive in the third that ended with him getting sacked on a botched screen that wasn’t his fault. Even the interception he threw, later in the fourth, wasn’t on him as Dallas Goedert admitted that he should’ve been where Wentz threw the ball. But in reality, it also wasn’t a sterling game for Wentz. He again had problems seeing open receivers. On one play, Jalen Reagor lined up in the slot and was uncovered. He waved his arms to get Wentz’s attention but the ball never came his way.
2. Wentz continues to get beat up, both physically and metaphorically, thanks to mistakes by others. He drives the offense into the Seattle red zone on their first possession of the third quarter half only to have the chance of a touchdown taken away by a third-down sack by Jamal Adams. The play sure looked like a screen to the left side, where three linemen quickly broke into the second level. One problem, though: there’s nobody there to catch the screen. A wide receiver is blocking down the left sideline and Boston Scott stayed in the backfield. Wentz has nobody to throw to off a play action and gets clobbered by Adams. Now, who’s fault is that? Not Wentz’s. He was also sacked six times and hit 12 times.
3. Onto Pederson. I wasn’t a big fan of his decision to keep the offense on the field for 4th-and-2 at midfield early in the fourth, with Wentz’s pass batted at the line of scrimmage by linebacker K.J. Wright. The Eagles had played well defensively and had a chance to pin the Seahawks inside their 10, maybe even create a turnover with some pressure. Pederson then made the odd decision to keep the offense on the field in the fourth quarter, with the Eagles down 20-9. That’s when Goedert’s screw-up led to Wentz throwing a pick. But why t kick the field goal there and make it a one-possession game? Defense had played well for the most part, allowing just two field goals since after after halftime. That one made no sense.
4. Also, not a smart challenge by Pederson on Metcalf’s third-quarter catch that looked first like a fumble. Replay clearly showed that Metcalf took three steps, had the ball secure, and only lost handle when he hit the ground, which by rule can’t cause a fumble. The Eagles had already burned one timeout, so they were down two timeouts before the start of the fourth quarter in a one-possession game.
5. Sure, D.K. Metcalf is emerging into a superstar. And, yes, it’s more salt in the wound that the Eagles picked J.J. Arcega-Whiteside instead and Arcega-Whiteside was once again inactive, but the Eagles expected more on a night like this from Darius Slay when they dealt for him. Metcalf catching 10 passes for 177 yards had to be disappointing for Howie Roseman, who made it his mission to upgrade the corner position this offseason for the sole purpose of defending guys like Metcalf and, you know, who also passed on Metcalf to take Arcega-Whiteside. You expect Metcalf to make some plays, but he made too many and even dropped a touchdown that would’ve made the damage worse. Slay also gave some up some yards to Steelers rookie Chase Claypool earlier this year so perhaps he finds tougher matchups against lengthier, physical receivers. That doesn’t bode well for Sunday’s game against the Packers and receiver Davante Adams.
6. A really nice goal-line stop by the Eagles on Seattle’s opening possession helped masquerade the ridiculous personal foul penalties that helped the Seahawks get that close to the end zone. It’s one thing to not back down, but both Slay and Malik Jackson went overboard and drew unsportsmanlike penalties each, handing Seattle a trip inside the 10-yard line. Derek Barnett blew up Metcalf’s block on fourth down to cause the turnover on downs, but the lack of discipline from Pederson’s team shouldn’t be go unnoticed, especially given the team’s rising penalty count over the weeks. The Eagles were flagged nine times for 79 yards.
7. Reagor wasn’t on the field for third down on the team’s opening possession, which is strange. The drive ended with Alshon Jeffery haphazardly not catching a comeback on the right side. Reagor was on the field for the next third down, on the next possession, but Travis Fulgham wasn’t. This again seemed like curious strategizing, not having the two, young, future wide receivers on the field at the same time on the first two third-down passes, once again raising the question of Alshon Jeffery’s role and purpose for the team. I worry about these two guys getting further lost in the offense and not being able to capitalize on the last five games of the season. Wide receivers coach Aaron Morehead will have to stay on them in practice over the weeks to make sure they’re body language is right.
8. It sure appeared that Alex Singleton was held on the 16-yard touchdown run from Chris Carson on 2nd-and-16 but that doesn’t excuse everyone else from making a play. Rodney McLeod got bowled over. Nickel Robey-Coleman couldn’t get off a block. Credit the defense for not allowing that TD run to deflate them, but that’s a touchdown that can’t be allowed in that situation.
9. Last year, the Eagles sacked Russell Wilson six times in the regular-season game, along with holding him to 200 yards throwing and a passer rating under of 75.4. Did a pretty good against him in the playoff game, too. Clearly, Jim Schwartz’s plan for Wilson has worked. He’s been aggressive up front, forcing Wilson off his mark and not allowing Wilson to get outside the pocket much. The Eagles sacked him twice, both early, and Wilson threw just one touchdown. Wilson completed 71 percent of his passes, but we’ve seen way more prolific outings from him. It’s a shame the Eagles have figured out how to keep him from going off in their last three games but they haven’t won any of them.
10. It’s hard to imagine the Eagles finishing with just three wins this year. At the same time, it’s hard to see them beating Green Bay, New Orleans or Arizona, either. Washington is starting to find its rhythm. Dallas, in the season finale, will be a “winnable” game, but at that point, does it even matter? Even four wins doesn’t make the owner any happier. Everyone at the NovaCare should be worried about their job security. Everyone.
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.