It took nearly three months, but the Philadelphia Eagles finally lost their second game of the season last Sunday night. The defeat came at the hands of a very good Seattle Seahawks team in arguably the toughest environment for opposing teams to play. However this was a huge test for the Eagles, as up to this point in the season, they have only beaten one team with a record better than .500. Many people believed that the Eagles would perform similarly in the playoffs as they did against the Seahawks and after the disappointing result are now lowering their expectations. Lets go through this game and look into why this result doesn’t necessarily mean the Eagles are doomed come playoff time.
Lets start with head coach Doug Pederson. In his about year and a half as the head coach of the Eagles, he has never been shy about going for it on fourth down or attempting risky two point conversions. Yet on Sunday night, there were a couple of times in the first half where Pederson got conservative and elected not to go for it on fourth and inches. Yes, the Eagles were still on their side of the field both times. But when you have a 6’5″ quarterback who has been perfect on quarterback sneaks this year, conventional wisdom says go for it. However, the Eagles punted both times and Seattle built a quick 10-0 lead. Considering how well the Eagles moved the ball on the Seahawks defense all night, it might’ve been wise to go for it so the Eagles could’ve put up some points earlier and not had to scramble later on. But Pederson is a smart guy and surely will remember this next time the Eagles are in a similar situation.
Carson Wentz did throw for nearly 350 yards on the night, but made at least three big mistakes that probably cost the Eagles the game. On their first drive of the night, the Eagles were moving the ball well and just entered Seahawk territory. Wentz then had a wide open Nelson Agholor on a deep crossing route over the middle. If he hit Agholor with a decent throw, he probably would’ve walked into the endzone, but Wentz ended up over throwing him on the play. From there the drive stalled and the Eagles ended up punting.
Then there were back to back drives in the third quarter which most likely determined the outcome of the game. The first drive of the second half the Eagles marched right down the field. Wentz completed two big passes to Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffrey each and had one big third down ball to Torrey Smith in between. The Eagles had the ball, second and goal at the Seattle six. Wentz kept the ball on a funky looking read option play, took it down to the one, then fumbled. The ball bounced around before scooting out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback and an Eagles turnover. Seattle would score a touchdown on the ensuing drive, giving them a two touchdown advantage early on in the second half.
Undeterred, Wentz and company got the ball back and went right to work, hitting Agholor for 32 yards on a play similar to the one that Wentz overthrew in the first quarter. However this time Wentz underthrew the pass and Agholor had to slide to make the catch. If Wentz put the ball on target, Agholor once again would have probably walked into the end zone. The Eagles ended up moving the ball to the Seattle 25 and down two scores elected to go for it on fourth down. Wentz was pressured and hurried a throw to Kenyon Barner, who tripped and couldn’t make the catch, resulting in a turnover on downs.
Aside from the self-inflicted wounds, Russell Wilson once again put on a show for the Seahawks. The Eagles struggled to get him on the ground all night and he was efficient in the red zone while the Eagles were not. Wilson reached deep into his bag of tricks, whether it was running in circles until a receiver got open, throwing a forward pass eight yards beyond the line of scrimmage, or tossing up a well placed pass against single coverage, he made the Eagles pay regardless of what defense they played. If this was a preview of a potential playoff matchup, the Eagles are going to have to make sure they contain Wilson as well as play better in one on one match-ups against Seahawk receivers.
If you watched the game, you’ll know it was far closer than the final score would indicate. The Eagles had more yards, first downs, and had the edge in time of possession. A costly red zone turnover most likely caused the Eagles to play more erratically towards the end of the game and as a result they were unable to beat a very good Seahawks team on the road. Regardless of this result and the schedule they’ve played so far, I don’t feel like this loss shows that the Eagles are overrated or anything. The Eagles can only play the teams they’ve been scheduled and they’ve blown out teams they are supposed to blow out. A few mistakes cost the team the game and I trust Wentz is smart enough and a good enough player to evaluate what he did wrong and rectify his mistakes. The Eagles have another tough game coming up next week against the first place LA Rams, which will be another opportunity for them to prove themselves against playoff caliber competition. And for now, don’t worry about all the people who say this loss shows the Eagles aren’t for real.