Eagles Evaluation: Offensive Woes Continue in Loss to Browns

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Staff

After losing their first two preseason games, the Eagles looked to right the ship against the Browns. The team was still missing some key pieces, but the showing was not a pretty one for a team that used a high powered offense to defeat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Below are my drive by drive analyses:

First Quarter

Drive One (Defense)

  • The first play of the game was not a good one with Jalen Mills missing a tackle and allowing a first down before Rodney McLeod came up to make the tackle.
  • Nice plays by Malcolm Jenkins in the run game, Nigel Bradham on a screen and Derek Barnett in pass coverage (yes, you read that right) proved that the defense was here to play and forced a punt.

Drive Two (Offense)

  • After a nice catch and run by Dallas Goedert, the Eagles started off with a first down conversion.
  • A rush up the middle by Wendell Smallwood and a good throw to Zach Ertz left the Eagles at third and one. On the sweep to Smallwood, Lane Johnson got to the outside but really didn’t block anyone as the defender just ran by him and tripped up Smallwood who did well to keep moving forward for the first down.
  • Another nice, but hurried, pass to Ertz set up a second and short.
  • The Eagles put Smallwood on a sweep again. This time, Smallwood got great blocks from both Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce and took a nice cut for a nine-yard game. Unfortunately, the play left Kelce injured – hopefully him leaving the game is more precautionary.
  • Foles made a poor decision to float one to Shelton Gibson that should probably have been picked off. That play was followed by a run from Smallwood that went nowhere. It went nowhere because Issac Seumalo fell over and allowed a defender to run free behind Smallwood.
  • Shelton Gibson made a nice adjustment to make a seven-yard grab. That probably could have been a first down if Foles had hit him in stride and Gibson didn’t need to stop to catch the ball.
  • Doug Pederson went for it on fourth down and Foles nearly made a first down pass to Ertz, but the throw went high as Foles was being hit as he threw. Considering Big V was the player beat to allow the quarterback hit and he was called for holding penalty on the same play, that was just an awful play from him. Since there was a penalty on the defense, he essentially failed the fourth down conversion in two different ways for the Eagles.
  • On the retry due to offsetting penalties, Vaitai was beat again and a pass to Ertz was short. The throw was hurried by the pressure, but some blame must be put on Ertz for running a route that was not even close to the first down marker and really on Foles for making the decision to throw to that route when Ertz was so well covered.

Drive Three (Defense)

  • Carlos Hyde made a huge run that was again the fault of a missed tackle by Jalen Mills. McLeod finally pushed him out of bounds, but it should also be mentioned that Fletcher Cox was there and had caught up to the running back, once again proving why he is the best defensive lineman on this roster.
  • Another long run, this one uglier – Ronald Darby sold out in a direction the runner did not have a chance to go in the first place, Derek Barnett grabbed the runner’s leg and failed to do anything and then Nigel Bradham dove and missed his legs. Perhaps the bright side here is that McLeod made the tackle again and has been doing his job of preventing what would otherwise be huge touchdowns.
  • Barnett put some nice pressure on the quarterback, but Bradham was beat on the dump pass and the tight end leaped over Ronald Darby for another first down.
  • A pass was thrown over Landry’s head that Jalen Mills stopped with a nice pick. That was followed by a bullet that bounced off of Sidney Jones who was in front of the receiver on a really poor decision by Tyrod Taylor. It could have been picked, but no one other than Taylor thought he would try to feed the ball into a mass of people.
  • The Browns tried the first play again and again Landry ran straight into Mills. He wanted a flag on the play again, but maybe he should focus on running routes and making a catch rather than running into Mills and stopping to whine. Mills did a good job of keeping a low profile on both plays.
  • The Browns went for it on fourth down and the Eagles brought the pressure immediately forcing Taylor out of the pocket. Kamu Grugier-Hill missed an easy sack, but Jordan Hicks went up and hot the ball down. He probably could have intercepted that and benefitted from a touchback.

Drive Four (Offense)

  • Starting on their own one yard line, the Eagles handed it to Smallwood who got a good gain to give the Eagles some room to operate.
  • Foles tripped in the endzone and got back up and completed a pass to Shelton Gibson running down the sideline. That would have been an amazing play if Stefen Wisniewski had not allowed a defender to run right past him and touch Foles while he was getting back up. That is on Wisniewski and Foles who tripped because he kicked his own leg. That’s a safety for the Browns that was easily avoidable. Heck, if Grugier-Hill makes the sack or Hicks makes the interception to end the previous drive, this might not even have happened as both would have given the Eagles better field position.

Drive Five (Defense)

  • Laroy Reynolds made a solid stop on the return. He may very well take Corey Nelson’s place on this roster unless Nelson does something to prove he should be on the team.
  • Nigel Bradham made a great stop in the run game and good coverage down the field forced a throwaway despite Haloti Ngata missing the tackle on an easy sack. That was all for naught, however as Mills was playing almost six yards off of his man who was wide open for an easy first down and more. Sidney Jones nearly picked it from his position, but the pass was too high for him to get to.
  • Mills came back and made sure that Baker Mayfield could not scramble and ran him out of bounds after Michael Bennett failed to bring down Mayfield for a sack earlier on the play.
  • A screen pass was well covered by both Destiny Vaeao and Barnett. He almost got by them both, but Barnett was able to wrap up the runners legs.
  • Bradham played the line well to ensure that the quarterback could not scramble for a first down and on fourth down the pressure forced a throwaway. With the exception of that one pass toward Mills that went for a first down, this secondary has been in great coverage. It looks like Jones has the slot corner position locked down with this play.

Drive Six (Offense)

  • The Browns blew up an intended screen to Smallwood as Jason Kelce got down the field to block for the runner but did absolutely nothing to slow down the defender which allowed a straight shot to Foles who did not have enough time for the play to develop.
  • This was followed by a handoff to Smallwood that was absolutely swarmed and a play where Foles fumbled the ball that would be recovered by the Browns. It was Lane Johnson getting pushed into Foles and allowing the defender to then reach around him that allowed that fumble. Brandon Brooks has been the only offensive lineman so far for the Eagles to not make a major mistake in this game.

Drive Seven (Defense)

  • A solid run stop by Hick was followed up by a strip sack by Fletcher Cox, but Cleveland recovered the fumble.

Second Quarter

Drive Seven (Continued – Defense)

  • Malcolm Jenkins blew by everyone on a blitz and forced a very quick throw by Mayfield and resulted in a 54-yard field goal attempt that was turned out to be good.

Drive Eight (Offense)

  • After Smallwood turned what should have been a huge loss into a small loss, Foles lobbed a pass up to the Cleveland defenders. It was supposedly intended for Mike Wallace, but would have been way behind the receiver running down the field. Foles had time even though he was hit after the throw. That was just an awful decision and poor throw.

Drive Nine (Defense)

  • Chris Long blew past everyone and forced a run play to lose four yards. On the next play Long pushed the tackle back and was able to hit Tyrod Taylor enough to force him into the arms of Ngata who took him down for a sack.
  • The Eagles played some prevent defense and a short pass remained a short pass on a nice tackle by Sidney Jones and the Browns punted.

Drive 10 (Offense)

  • Mike Wallace made a nice catch and gained a few yards, but way tackled easily. He probably should have run on a slight slant to avoid being tackled by the guy Mack Hollins had blocked, but he ran right next to him so all he had to do was put an arm out.
  • A handoff to Smallwood went nowhere with four defenders behind the line in no time.
  • A huge pass down the field connected with DeAndre Carter, but again, he had to make an adjustment to make that catch. If Foles hits him in stride, that is an easy touchdown, but the ball was underthrown and Carter had to stop to catch the ball.
  • Smallwood made a nice cut to pick up another first down and a sweep by him ended with the same result thanks to a good block by Big V.
  • A screen to Matt Jones went nowhere and resulted in a fumble recovered by the Browns. These drops and fumbles are why Jones couldn’t make the Redskins roster and why he will not make the Eagles roster. Jones has essentially played himself out of position for a roster spot. I believe he is easily the first running back cut this preseason.

Drive 11 (Defense)

  • Malcolm Jenkins and Grugier-Hill both missed tackles that nearly allowed a first down, but Jalen Mills was able to stop the runner just before that.
  • Taylor got away from pressure and scrambled for an easy first down. He slid when Darby came up to stop him. It was good to see Darby help Taylor up after the play. Sportsmanship.
  • Pressure was in on the next play, but Derek Barnett missed the sack and Bradham did the same. Grugier-Hill made the stop at the line of scrimmage.
  • Hicks and Vaeao made another solid stop and Hicks followed that up with a blitz that resulted in a sack and forced a punt.

Drive 12 (Offense)

  • Smallwood took a dump and beat two defenders in order to turn a small gain.
  • A catch and run by Ertz looked like the same type of play that the Eagles were making in the playoffs last season and that was good to see.
  • Foles then hit Gibson for a 20-yard completion. That was a nice play and Gibson made sure to get into the only open spot on the field.
  • With no play down the field, Foles was sacked after Big V fell over and allowed a free lane to the quarterback.
  • Seumalo was absolutely beat on the next play, but a nice block pickup by Smallwood allowed just enough time to get a dump pass over to DeAndre Carter who took a good block from Brandon Brooks for a first down. It could have gone farther, but Lane Johnson did nothing to stop his defender down the field from tripping Carter up.
  • An open Smallwood up the middle allowed Foles to pass for another first down.
  • Smallwood pushed up the middle for another first down and got the Eagles a first and goal, but his next rush went nowhere.
  • This was followed by another awful pick by Foles. He was trying to hit Ertz, and perhaps didn’t think that Jaime Collins would take one step to his left to intercept the ball. It was another poor decision by Foles and was perhaps the worst way to end the most impressive drive of the first half.

Drive 13 (Defense)

  • After Avonte Maddox played some poor coverage and allowed a seven-yard catch, he missed a tackle that allowed a first down run.
  • After giving up an eight yard pass, Maddox was beat by Landry for what would have gone for a touchdown if the ball hadn’t been way overthrown.
  • Corey Graham and Grugier-Hill combined to stop a run, but a first down was made. De’Vante Bausby allowed a nine-yard catch and then a pass caught over the middle allowed a first down with 11 seconds remaining in the half.
  • A few more short passes got the Browns nowhere near scoring position as time ran out in the half.

Third Quarter

Drive 14 (Offense)

  • After a short rush by Jones and a sack of Sudfeld, a very low pass by Sudfeld dropped by Dallas Goedert resulted in a three and out.

Drive 15 (Defense)

  • The Browns rushed straight through the second team defensive line as they were just pushed down the field for a six yard gain.
  • Grugier-Hill blew up a run, but was unable to stop a catch that went just far enough to get a first down before he made the tackle.
  • Corey Graham came around to force a loss on another rush and De’Vante Bausby made sure a catch gained no yardage. After Nate Gerry pushed a rush out of bounds, the Browns were forced to punt.

Drive 16 (Offense)

  • After Carter made a return that nearly went for a touchdown had it not been for the punter knocking him out of bounds, the Eagles started with good field position.
  • Matt Jones made a four-yard catch which he followed with a seven-yard rush.
  • Sudfeld threw a bullet off the ground in front of Rashard Davis and then scrambled before doing the same thing again. I don’t know what is up with Sudfeld, but all of his passes have been at the reciever’s feet.
  • An incompletion to a well-covered Shelton Gibson resulted in a punt. Gibson played the defender on that and prevented an interception.

Drive 17 (Defense)

  • After Joe Walker and Josh Sweat made some impressive stops, De’Vante Bausby was beat for an easy first down on a 19-yard completion.
  • A few more rushed resulted in a Cleveland first down, and was followed by a five-yard completion over Rasul Douglas and a pass interference penalty on Douglas that gifted yet another first down.
  • Two run stops and huge pressure that resulted in Joe Ostman getting a tackle for a seven-yard loss forced a punt. I also liked that after Winston Craig took down Mayfield on a scramble he picked him back up. A lot of sportsmanship and not too much gloating from the defense today.

Drive 18 (Offense)

  • Josh Adams opened with a strong seven-yard carry, but gained no yardage on the next carry and lost yardage on a dump where Sudfeld let him take an immediate shot. Nothing going and another punt by the Eagles.

Drive 19 (Defense)

  • After long-snapper Rick Lovato made a huge hit on the punt return, the Eagles line made a solid stop to end the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Drive 19 (Continued – Defense)

  • A first down pass that was made despite strong coverage from Chandon Sullivan was really just a great play by the Browns with not much else to be done.
  • A decent run was followed by a strong play and sack by Steven Means, but a D.J. Killings holding call resulted in a first down.
  • Two runs for six-yards was erased by a poor throw by Mayfield that resulted in a pick by Avonte Maddox. He was tripped up by a diving receiver near midfield and had an open field in front of him had he been able to keep his footing.

Drive 20 (Offense)

  • Following a Sudfeld sack and a poor throw intended for Josh Adam, Adams pulled the Eagles out of a whole by rushing around the edge for 13 yards. Issac Seumalo had a good block down the field and Jordan Mailata was there to block, but the way Adams cut back in meant Mailata was unable to help.
  • Rashard Davis appeared to make a nice grab in the back of the endzone, but after review he was unable to get his left foot in bounds. This reversed the only scoring play the Eagles have had all night.
  • Josh Adams broke out another 13-yard run behind Seumalo and Chance Warmack. A holding against Shelton Gibson gave the Eagles another first down.
  • Greg Ward Jr. was hit at the line on a catch again – he has only gotten catches on the line of scrimmage this preseason.
  • Sudfeld looked to Goedert for a touchdown, but the throw was a bit off and Goedert did not adjust. Jones gained a bit on a screen pass, but that set up a short field goal that Jake Elliot would miss.

Drive 21 (Defense)

  • A strong stop by the defensive line, a dropped pass and a poor pass later resulted in a three and out for the Browns.

Drive 22 (Offense)

  • Sudfeld opened the drive with a 19-yard completion to Carter. It was a good throw and a good route.
  • That was followed by a short Matt Jones run and Sudfeld standing in the pocket too long, so a hard fought seven-yard catch by Jones still resulted in a punt.

Drive 23 (Defense)

  • Following a short stop, Jeremy Reaves missed a tackle to allow a big run.
  • Tre Sullivan made a stop but was injured on the play and had to leave the game.
  • Jeremy Reaves made a tackle for loss and Chandon Sullivan made a tackle just behind the first down marker to force a punt.

Drive 24 (Offense)

  • With a chance to win the game, the Eagles turned to Matt jones who rushed for five yards.
  • Sudfeld hit Goedert in stride to get a first down and then hit Jones for a short gain.
  • Sudfeld scrambled for a short gain and then threw a ball that was nearly picked behind Carter. If it was in front of him, he could have made the grab.
  • Carter went up to make a great grab of a pass that Sudfeld just lobbed up. He was able to get both feet down inbounds before falling out of bounds.
  • A pass that was too high for Goedert and a sack of Sudfeld left 13 seconds on the clock.
  • An awful pass intended to Carter left one play for the Eagles to score any points at all.
  • A short pass to Matt Jones left no chance for anything to happen as he was immediately tackled to end the game.

Offensive MVP

I am going to go with Wendell Smallwood who arguably cemented himself as the number four back on this roster. Two catches for 14 yards and 12 carries for 53 yards in half of a game. His stats would be more impressive if half of his touches didn’t find him getting the ball with immediate pressure on him behind the line of scrimmage. Add in some picked up blocks, and Smallwood was the best offensive player on the field in a game where nearly no offensive player other than DeAndre Carter did anything impressive.

Defensive MVP

Sidney Jones was phenomenal in the slot tonight. He had strong coverage all night and only needed to make one tackle on a short pass in this game. He is developing into the talent experts though he could be before his injury and, much like Ronald Darby, had almost no passes thrown his way as quarterbacks would not risk throwing into his coverage.

Preseason Game Three Notes

  • The offensive line is a concern. Missed blocks and poor blocks from Big V, Kelce, Johnson and Wisniewski greatly affected this game. Brandon Brooks was the lone starter who didn’t seem to commit a major error in this game.
  • Seumalo did have a poor play early, but looked much better than previous weeks down the stretch of this game. He even had a couple of good blocks down the field to net extra yardage.
  • Once again Jordan Mailata was impressive. The man who had never played football before a few months ago played once again this week and held his own in a game where the 2017 season’s best offensive line in football struggled mightily.
  • If you think I am being too harsh in pointing out these mistakes, don’t worry. Doug Pederson was not happy with this game and was noting these same things.
  • The Eagles offense is really missing their top three running backs and top two wide receivers.
  • Shelton Gibson may have locked down a position already, but DeAndre Carter may be working himself into the sixth wide receiver spot. Smallwood seems to have locked down the fourth running back spot with Josh Adams seeming to be in the fifth spot. Depending on how many tight-ends the Eagles choose to carry after the Richard Rogers injury, Carter and Adams could both make this roster.
  • Despite the loss and an awful offensive showing, the defense was stellar allowing only a field goal on a drive in which the Browns actually lost yardage. If the Browns weren’t given that short field, the only points they would have scored would have been on the safety allowed by the offense. There was still things to clean up on defense, but holding an opponent to such a low score is a feat in itself.