By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
The Philadelphia Eagles led the NFC East by two games just a couple short weeks ago and heading into tonight’s game against the Seattle Seahawks the division was led, via a tie breaker, by the New York Giants. Needless to say, expectations are getting lower by the week. Our own owner Jeffrey Lurie didn’t show up to an Eagles game for the first time ever. Howie Roseman looks like he’s about to cry in every image. And Doug Pederson is still struggling through the beginners class to playcalling.
The table has been set, the Eagles under Pederson and with Wentz at QB have struggled against the Seahawks. But with the Eagles hitting the toughest stretch of their schedule over the next four weeks, the past needs to be forgotten and the present and the playoffs need to be focused on. The first half went fully as expected, Eagles defense standing on their heads, bending, bending and finally breaking after numerous key stops. And the offense failing on many levels, so poorly that they got their first first down on the final drive of the half. The offense managed to put up a touchdown to end the first half via Wentz to Goedert to make the game 14-6, yes in typical 2020 fashion Jake Elliot did miss the extra point, his first missed extra point of the season.
After forcing a three and out the Eagles had a promising drive to start the second half which ended in three points on the leg of Jake Elliot. The Eagles defense remained strong against the Seahawks giving up only three more points in the third quarter, keeping the game within one score for the offense.
The Eagles would start the fourth quarter with a turnover on downs around midfield, which was a tough one to swallow given how good the Eagles defense had been tonight and the idea of not playing field position by Pederson. This would lead to another Seahawks field goal to make the game a two score game with eleven minutes to go. Wentz would lead another promising looking drive with the help of back to back defensive pass interferences to get them on the fringe of the red zone and Pederson would again go for it on fourth down and Wentz turnovers reared their ugly head with an interception in the end zone to lock up the game for the Seahawks. Some garbage time work by both teams made the game 23-17.
There cannot be enough good said about the Eagles defense in this game. Going up against an offense which is averaging the third most yards per game in the NFL, 400 and the third most points per game, 31.6. The Eagles finished the game allowing 302 yards and 23 points to a high octane Russel Wilson led Seahawks offense. The Eagles also held the Seahawks to just 2-10 on third downs and two crucial fourth down stops early that could have made the game a lot uglier.
The stats don’t fully speak to the overall performance. The defensive line had one of their stronger showings of the year and were in Wilson’s face for much of the night. They finished with two sacks and seven quarterback hits. Although Slay had his hands full and struggled with Metcalf, the Seahawks seemingly only found success looking his way who finished with a career high 177 yards of the Seahawks 302 total yards.
Dallas Goedert looked much more himself this week and boy was it a welcomed return to form. What was once seen as the envy of most teams, the Eagles had one of the most exciting tandems at the TE position. Zach Ertz underperformed severely to start the season and then went down with an injury and Goedert started the season strong before falling victim to an injury. Goedert finished the game with the most targets, ten and had seven receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Travis Fulgham has apparently fallen off the face of the earth and those who have stepped up in his place can barely be called receivers. Against a Seahawks defense who has been the gift that keeps on giving to wide receivers and quarterbacks, the Eagles offense as a whole produced just over 75 yards at the half and the WRs accounted for less than 20 of those yards. The Seahawks defense on average gives up 259.7 yards per game to wide receivers and allowed the most reception to wide receivers by 32 on the team with the second most. Alshon Jeffrey had his first catch of the season and ultimately went on to finish with a line of two receptions for 15 yards. Other wide receivers struggled to create separation all night. Jalen Reagor was used ineffectively in screen plays and looks nothing as advertised as Wentz struggles to get on the same level with his receivers. The wide receivers finished with nine total receptions for 46 yards.
I could talk about Doug Pederson and his play calling again, but I think we can accept that this is an almost locked in ugly week in and week out. The ugly this week is the offensive line in front of him, we already watched his running mate for most pressures and most sacks for much of the season get his knee torn to shreds, Joe Burrow, last week because of a bad offensive line. My heart goes out to Burrow and now my heart goes out to Wentz as he continues to struggle behind a porous offensive line. In 12 games the Eagles have now rolled out ten different offensive line combinations, the most in the league. Wentz ended up sacked six times and hit 12 times. It's easy to make excuses with Peters playing with an injury requiring surgery, Johnson done for the season, Brooks never getting a shot at a season in 2020, this offensive line is a shell of what we have seen it be and certainly needs some attention as it isn’t getting any younger or better.
We officially fall out of first place in the NFC East and go to 3-7-1 and yet our chances at the division remain alive. However, an upcoming schedule against the Saints, Packers and Cardinals certainly doesn’t make our chances look great. There is a major re-tooling that needs to take place and an evaluation of the roster from top to bottom and as painful as it maybe, it’s easier to lose out and get the better draft picks. However, something tells me if Pederson and Wentz see an opportunity to take the division and get in they will go out and play for the wins.