By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
Two more weeks, that’s all that is left of this roller coaster ride of a season. We have seen pretty much everything, almost all you could possibly see from a football team and yet, sitting at 4-8-1, this date with the Dallas Cowboys still left the door open to get into the playoffs with an Eagles win and a Washington loss.
Despite the fast start by the Eagles which put them up 11 at the end of the first quarter courtesy of a Miles Sanders touchdown run and an 81 yard connection between Hurts and the returning Desean Jackson. The Eagles would falter in the second half, mainly led by Michael Jacquet’s bamboozling at the hands of Michael Gallup, allowing the Cowboys to outscore the Eagles 17-3 in the second quarter leading to a three point lead at the half, 20-17.
The secondary continued to get burnt early in the second half this time Nickell Robey-Coleman allowing Ceedee Lamb to grab a 52 yard touchdown and put the Eagles down by two scores early in the third. The Eagles offense continued to struggle early in the second half, while the Cowboys were able to add a field goal to make it a two score game on the possession after the Lamb touchdown.
The Eagles offense continued to disappoint into the fourth quarter despite a huge Darius Slay interception that gave Pederson and Hurts prime starting field position that they could do nothing with thanks to multiple poor disciplinary penalties along the offensive line. The Eagles offense was given another chance soon after, when the defense forced a three and out, but the march was frozen when Jalen Hurts, under pressure, threw an ugly interception to all but seal the game. The Eagles offense would get the ball back, but a questionable fumble call led to the Cowboys getting the ball back for the final time to bury the Eagles playoff dreams. Ceedee Lamb would add a garbage time touchdown to push the score to 37-17.
The offense started off shot out of a cannon and then completely fell apart and in typical Doug Pederson fashion, largely abandoned the run. Miles Sanders scored the first touchdown for the Eagles after Jalen Hurts' run was called back due to a hold. And when Sanders was giving the football time and time again he went and grabbed chunk play after chunk play. He had 15 carries for 57 yards, for an average of 3.8 yards per carry and added on three receptions for 18 yards on five targets.
Big play Slay, came up with his first interception of the season and at the time in the game it was a huge turning point that the offense was unable to capitalize on. Darius Slay has been everything we wanted in Philadelphia, a true number one cornerback. Throughout much of this game Dalton completely avoided Darius Slay's side of the field and that's what we acquired him for and paid him for. He has had some games, but he gave the Eagles the best chance possible against Dallas by essentially shutting down one side of the field.
Early in the second quarter Fletcher Cox left for the blue tent and was ruled out for the remainder of the game, not great news. Add on that Derek Barnett was ruled out Saturday and Josh Sweat headed to the injured reserve earlier in the week and well things aren’t great for a front four that has been the core of this team all season. However, there was still over $14 million worth of investments across that front four on the field in Javon Hargrave, Malik Jackson and Brandon Graham. Clearly dollars don’t matter as the front four created almost no pressure! They sacked Andy Dalton twice against the makeshift line the Cowboys put on the field and hit Dalton seven times, not a bad number, but the score speaks to a far more comfortable Dalton then a pressured Dalton.
Michael Jacquet played okay last week for an undrafted free agent tasked with facing a premier wide receiver in Deandre Hopkins. This week he went head to head with the Cowboys second sometimes even third option at wide receiver and got burnt, burnt and burnt some more giving up over 120 yards on six receptions and a touchdown to Michael Gallup before seeing much less playing time in the second half. He finished targeted nine times, allowing seven receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys completely avoided Darius Slay and they were fine to do so as Nickell Robey Coleman gave up a big touchdown to Ceedee Lamb and Jacquet gave up a touchdown and multiple big plays. The secondary was never a strength of the Eagles this season, but injuries and inconsistent play have made it a continued liability.
The great and good were almost to easy because the bad and ugly reared its ugly head often. So, the offseason begins for the Philadelphia Eagles and there are holes and needs all over the place. First things first, the Eagles sit approximately $30 million over the cap and have a quarterback controversy where one of them is costing nearly $35 million next season. Time to figure out who is part of the future, where to save cap and what to do at the quarterback position. Good luck Howie.