By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
COVID-19 has forced the league to change in many ways.
Due to the virus, many teams have no fans in the stands.
There are also increased practice squad sizes and veteran spots along with other safety changes like no preseason.
On Sunday, it appeared the Eagles thought the league had also made a rule that games would be just 30 minutes long.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, that was not a rule in place and the Eagles came out and proceeded to do nothing for the entire second half of the game, watching a 17-0 lead turn into a 27-17 loss.
It was a game that started out about as well as Eagles fans could have possibly hoped and then suddenly turned into the absolute embarrassment that fans in the Philadlephia area are used to seeing in critical games recently.
- Boston Scott was the clear option at running back with Clement taking over as the number two, but Jason Huntley didn’t even come out when Scott left with an injury.
- Jack Driscoll took over as the starting right tackle in place of Lane Johnson, making him the likely primary backup tackle going forward. However, Jordan Mailata came in to replace Driscoll after his injury and the play did not see any drop off following that.
- Nate Herbig started at right guard, shockingly leaving Matt Pryor on the bench for the game.
- The Eagles did not have any receiver on the field for a particularly long time, regularly rotating though all five that they had active.
- The Eagles used TY McGill quite heavily off the practice squad call-up, particularly with Hargrave out and Graham and Curry missing time on the outside.
Buy: Dallas Goedert
If there was someone on the offense who did all they could to win the game, it was Dallas Goedert. He managed 101 yards on eight catches and scored the team’s second touchdown. There was no point that Goedert found himself as the offending party for a failed play, making him the team’s top offensive player.
Sell: John Hightower
Just two days ago, the city was thrilled to hear about the excellent things John Hightower was doing in camp. In his first game, there was nothing excellent about him. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Hightower ended the day with one catch for -2 yards on three targets. He had a big gain over the middle that hit both his hands in stride that was just too difficult for him to catch and stopped and watched as a defender went for a ball that he assumed would pass through and get to him. It wasn’t the best play by Wentz, but Hightower deserves blame for that interception as he refused to head back toward the pass to get it and then stood around and watched as the defender ran away with the ball, doing nothing to stop him. His performance Sunday truly begs the question of why he was given a roster spot.
Buy: Josh Sweat
Josh Sweat managed three tackles in this games as well as a sack, but he was forcing pressure off the edge the entire first half of the game, which is a positive development for the team. Though it isn’t on the score sheet, Sweat getting close to Haskins is what kept Haskins to a minimal completion rate through much of the first half.
Sell: Boston Scott
Scott had a difficult task playing behind a beat-up offensive line, but he managed just 35 yards on nine carries. Even worse was how terrible he was at assisting Carson Wentz. His offensive stats weren't great and his blocking was perhaps even worse. On the Eagles’ first fourth-down attempt, Scott decided to run a wheel route instead of picking up an unblocked rusher who proceeded to get a sack so easy any fan could have completed it.
Buy: Darius Slay
Slay wasn’t perfect, but he kept Terry McLaurin under control the whole game. He was also the only corner that did not find himself being shown on highlight reels for the Redskins receiving corps. If he can keep that up, the Eagles will have really made out on that trade.
Sell: Nate Herbig
Why Nate Herbig was chosen to start over Matt Pryor, who was fine in the playoffs last year is unknown, but he shouldn’t be starting if this is all he can offer. Herbig found himself multiple time missing assignments by choosing to double the inside despite two outside rushers or just allowing defenders to run right by him. There were a few times where he picked up his assignment and was simply blocked back into Carson Wentz. Herbig has to improve if he will be the Eagles starter all season long.
Sell: Zach Ertz
After refusing a deal last season, waiting for the tight end market to reset three times over and then crying to the media that the most cap-strapped team in the league isn’t selling the farm to keep him around, you’d think that Zach Ertz would come out looking to prove his case. Instead, Ertz managed just three catches for 18 yards. He also made the game-sealing drop by allowing Wentz’s pass to hit both his hands on the fourth down before watching it hit the ground.
- This Eagles offense seemed to be filled with players who have never played before. You would guess veteran Boston Scott had never seen a running back block before. DeSean Jackson, John Hightower and Jalen Reagor all had interceptions or near interceptions right in front of them that they did nothing to attempt to stop. Hightower and Reagor stood still and watched as a defender cut in front of them, apparently unaware that they, too, could move their feet and make a play on the ball, perhaps even attempt to make a catch. Jordan Mailata is still not completely familiar with the game and he looked to understand it better than half of the Eagles offense. Absolute slop.
- The Washington running backs were leaping and diving all game long, but players like Avonte Maddox and Nickell Robey-Coleman continued to dive as close to the ground as possible. If they keep jumping, they should get hit high, but that was a struggle for the Eagles secondary to figure out.
- Wentz was off with many of his deep passes leading just too far, but half of those could have been caught if the receiver leaped like the Washington offensive players were. Instead, the Eagles deep threats watched as the ball fell just in front of them. Poor play on both sides there.
- For as much was made of the Eagles lack of linebackers, they were perhaps the least concerning group on the field for the Birds. The only point at which it was clear a linebacker was in error was on blown coverage for the touchdown. Outside that, they seemed to hold to their assignments well.
- TY McGill played fairly well for a defensive line that had virtually no depth by the end of the game. It would not be a shock to see some team sign him to their 53-man roster, even if that isn’t Philadelphia.
- While Carson Wentz deserves some blame for missed passes and a couple of those sacks where he simply didn’t throw the ball away, the lack of blocking from the line, Ertz and Scott as well as any receiver other than Ward being totally unwilling to make a play on the ball was a much bigger issue that leads to worse play by any quarterback. By the end of the game, Wentz felt he had to find a receiver with no one within six feet of them and hold onto the ball as long as possible despite the rush.
The Eagles will face the Rams in Philadelphia next weekend, but the team will probably focus on teaching their players how to play a football game instead of focusing on the Rams since they clearly have plenty of players unfamiliar with the game.