By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The Eagles were atrocious on Sunday Night Football.
The embarrassingly bad Cowboys entered halftime with the lead and the Eagles offense managed just two effective drives against a historically bad defense.
But what always really matters is the win or the loss and the Birds escaped with the win.
The Eagles are getting healthier at this point, but remain a conundrum.
How does a team of injured third-string players beat the 49ers, hang with the league’s elite like Baltimore and Pittsburg and then suddenly squeak by the Giants and Cowboys?
Carson Wentz will sometimes look like a first-ballot Hall of Fame player and then suddenly look like he’s never played before.
All the team needs is some consistency and then everyone would know just where the Eagles should really be standing. For now, they stand as a 3-4-1 team that figures to host a playoff game with a, hopefully, much healthier roster.
- Jalen Reagor returned and was immediately a starter alongside Greg Ward and Travis Fulgham as he pushed John Hightower to the bench.
- Jason Peters drew the start at left tackle, but with Lane Johnson out, no one is sure where Mailata, who started at right tackle, will play (or if he’ll play) upon Johnson’s return.
- As should have been the case, Alex Singleton and TJ Edwards took over as the starting linebackers in Nate Gerry’s absence.
- Darius Slay left this game in the second quarter and, with LeBlanc and James already ruled out, practice squad player Michael Jacquet III came in at outside corner. That move didn’t last long as Jacquet, who is not even on the 53-man roster, also got injured and safeties Jalen Mills and Will Parks had to move to the position as the team had no remaining corners.
- With Malik jackson suffering a late injury and Hassan Ridgeway already on IR, undrafted rookie Raequan Williams saw some time in the defensive tackle rotation.
Buy: Jalen Reagor
As a disclaimer, I was a big Reagor fan from the draft, but even I was impressed with how quickly Reagor was re-integrated into the offense despite his limited reps. Three catches for 16 yards and a six yard rush are not particularly impressive on their own, but the reaches he made to score his first touchdown were. There was room for improvement (namely a dime from Wentz that would have been a 32-yard touchdown that was dropped), but it was good to see that the rookie was able to contribute immediately despite the fact he is still wearing a brace.
Sell: John Hightower
Hightower continues to get separation and continues to be a disappointment. Hightower was targeted three times and two of those were catchable for huge gains. Instead, Hightower stopped running on the first just as the ball was about to arrive so that he could not catch up to it and then he ran away from the second ball, turning what should have been a touchdown into an interception. After he allowed the interception, he couldn’t be bothered to sprint after the defensive back to make the tackle. At some point, the rookie needs to make more plays than he gives away instead of three or four misses for each productive play he has.
Buy: Brandon Graham
It is hard for a player like Graham to find his stock rising, but he certainly did so this week. Four tackles and a sack are what show in the box score, but the amount of no only pressures that Graham had, but also the job he did making sure that DiNucci did not have a running lane were what really made this game standout above his previous, already impressive, performances. Oh, and did I mention that his sack was a strip sack that he then recovered the fumble he forced? That’s pretty good, too.
Sell: Carson Wentz
If you’ve read the previous ups and downs, you are already aware that Wentz numbers were hindered not only by Hightower again stopping his route after the ball was thrown to him, but also by Reagor dropping a 32-yard touchdown pass and Hightower absolutely whiffing on a 51-yard touchdown pass that became an interception due to the rookie’s abhorrent ability to track a football. So, keeping in mind that Wentz should have had an additional three completions for over 100 yards, two touchdowns and one less interception, he still had a brutal game.
Despite the fact that Goedert and Reagor returned and he should have felt less of a need to make something happen, Wentz was pushing far to hard at the start of both halves, with an absolutely embarrassing fumble on the team’s first drive and another fumble to follow (admittedly on a fourth-down play) as well as a poor decision on a throw to Reagor to start the second half that was intercepted. His running was fine, but his inability to throw the ball away resurfaced and that was his downfall in this match-up.
Buy: TJ Edwards
Edwards returned from IR and had one of the best games of his career. While he will likely never be a coverage linebacker, his run and screen-stopping was on display as he amassed an incredible 13 tackles in his return from injury. Not only that, but he showed some pass rushing abilities by forcing DiNucci out of the pocket, such as when he forced him into a Will Parks sack, and when he got a sack of his own and, in the process, forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
Sell: Jalen Hurts
Hurts saw just three plays this week and still managed to hurt the team. He completed his lone pass for nine yards, but also managed to get a delay of game penalty and fail a two-point conversion attempt. There is absolutely an argument to be made that the conversion is more to blame on Pederson, but a quarterback who can’t snap the ball before there are zeros is just flat out bad.
Sell: Dallas Goedert
Goedert’s return should have been huge for the Eagles offense, but the tight end drew just one target. Granted he did manage to haul in that one for a 15-yard gain, but Goedert is at a level where that kind of output is simply unacceptable for a struggling offense.
- Despite the fact that his stock didn’t rise, Travis Fulgham continued his dominant run with another 78 yards and a touchdown. That brings his totals to five straight games of over 50 yards (every game he has been on the 53-man roster) and four straight games of over 70 yards receiving. He also has touchdowns in four of those contests. There is no disputing he is the real deal at this point.
- Boston Scott carried just 15 times for 70 yards. Toward the end of the game, the Cowboys defense was catching onto the run game more, but Scott was still effective and the Cowboys run-defense has been an embarrassment, so it is unclear why the Eagles didn’t pound the rock more often.
- With an upcoming bye week, the Eagles will have a far better chance at a healthy Lane Johnson and should be getting Miles Sanders back. The Eagles will also hope that players like Jack Driscoll, Daruis Slay, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Alshon Jeffery and Craig James are ready to play as well as be closer to returns of players like Isaac Seumalo and Zach Ertz.
- The NFL trade deadline is tomorrow and while the Eagles appear to have the best shot at winning the NFC East Championship, that title would be a lot better if it was won on the backs of emerging young players who factor into the team’s future like Fulgham, Edwards, Reagor, Driscoll, Herbig, etc. For that reason, the Eagles should be willing to part with anyone outside of a list of untouchables.
- Personally, my untouchables would be something like this: Wentz, Goedert, Fulgham, Reagor, Seumalo, Herbig, Mailata, Graham, Cox, Sweat. Anyone else and I’m willing to move them for the right price, though I would admittedly listen to offers on the untouchables, too.
The Eagles head into their bye week as divisional leaders and figure to return even more injured player in that time. The team with their reinforcements will then head to New York for the team’s second match against the Giants.