By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The Eagles had their home opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and the first half certainly did not go as fans hoped.
The team also lost key veterans on each line with both Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks being ruled out for the second half. Hopefully, this is something that they can work through in practice this week, but it would seem unlikely given the reaction that Graham had being barely able to walk.
As for the second half, the only positive thing that happened in the second half was Jalen Hurts running in what was basically garbage time. Fans were/are rightfully disgusted with the play.
There wasn't really many options here. Hurts did well to keep some plays alive, but had too many poor throws and missed too many open receivers (either not throwing their way or underthrowing someone who had beaten their man). Watkins was really the only person that stood out with his electric big plays, but the team's seeming inability to run more than two routes for 90% of the game failed to put him in a position where he could make plays with his speed.
I just picked him because he made a few plays early. The real answer is that the MVP can't be anyone in the linebacking corps or secondary because there was almost no coverage downfield and the coverage and tackling on screens and dumps was absolutely atrocious. Outside the defensive line, there was no one on this defense playing NFL-caliber defense.
- Jalen Hurts was forcing it to Devonta Smith early and ignoring other open targets, so it was nice to see that fixed relatively quickly, though it would have been nice if they could have called some sort of offensive game plan in addition to that.
- Nick Sirianni's plan appears to have all receivers only have two options: run straight down the field or run straight for a few yards then turn around. Perhaps there might be other routes that could be incorporated - particularly when the team spent a first-round pick on Devonta Smith, who excels at routes across the middle.
- If it's even possible, Sirianni's play calling appeared to get worse in the red zone. Even plays that succeeded in gaining yards were plays the defense could see coming a mile away. The two-point conversion, for example, had two defenders in the backfield and it was only successful because Kenneth Gainwell was able to slip underneath the tackle. That cannot happen if the Eagles want to have any success in the red zone moving forward.
- Derek Barnett and K'Von Wallace both committed personal fouls to negate huge defensive plays. If the team has any gall, they'll do something about it and make sure those players clean up their games. That type of play isn't even worthwhile on a rebuilding squad.
- The broadcast made a big deal of a third down sack where Nick Bosa "beat Jordan Mailata", but in reality Mailata did fine. It was center Jason Kelce literally falling over into Jalen Hurts almost immediately that broke that play down.
- Many fans were happy to get rid of Jim Schwartz, but Jonathan Gannon did nothing to adjust to the 49ers moving to the screen. That's a weakness I could identify myself at halftime, so it's concerning that no adjustment was made to account for this and actually stop that attack. He also had his DBs all 10 yards off the receivers they were covering despite the fact that they could complete simple eight-yard passes throughout the game (provided Jimmy G could throw an accurate pass).
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles – September 19, 2021