Eagles Evaluation: Eagles Fail To Execute Against Lions

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Eagles were looking to rebound after a tough loss in Atlanta, but they shouldn’t have had a chance to with the way they were playing.

The team seemed to get off to a quick start, but the that changed in a hurry.

The history books will show that the Eagles lost a close game 27-24, but the mere fact that the team was in position to win this game is ludicrous. At the end of the day, the Eagles played a bad game in all three phases and barely lost the game. If they play this way Thursday night, they will be afforded no such luxury.

Personnel Changes

Jason Peters left the first half of the game with injury. Then rookie Andre Dillard followed suit. While Peters was able to return for the second half, the team may be in deep trouble if they need to start Vaitai next week as they will have no tackles left on the roster should another injury occur.

Ronald Darby left the game at halftime and was ruled out for the second half. You really wouldn’t have noticed, however, except for the fact that Darby wasn’t the closest defensive back on every completion the Lions threw. If the injury continues into Thursday, the team will be running with the only three corners left on the roster: Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas. This would be a huge showing as the trio represent the cornerback room for the next few seasons.

Derek Barnett was banged up in this one. That is seriously bad news as Barnett was esentially the only member of the defensive line that was getting pressure on a fairly consistent basis. The line would now be left with Vinny Curry, Hassan Ridgeway and the massively underperforming pair of Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox, who have done very little against three pretty poor offensive lines, as their starters. It would also mean that Akeem Spence, who the team signed two weeks ago, and the underperforming Josh Sweat as the last tackle and next player off the bench at defensive tackle and end respectively.

Stock Evaluations

Buy: Malcolm Jenkins

Jenkins did not have a spotless game, but it was a great showing. Four tackles and a major pass deflection to prevent a first-down conversion. Perhaps his biggest play of the game was the field goal blocked at the end of the game. It was slightly dampened by Jenkins needlessly throwing a block in the back to take the return out of field goal range. One mistake, but Jenkins was absolutely the leader for this team once again and continues to build a strong case for a new contract.

Sell: JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Who is this guy? You may remember him as the second second-round pick of the Eagles. Or possibly the guy who has played most of the offensive snaps the past two weeks and managed just two catches for 14 yards, one of which was a 10-yard gain on 3rd and 15. Most of you probably remember him as the guy who had a touchdown pass on the Eagles final offensive drive of the game bounce off both of his hands.

Praised by analysts as a great pick and huge contested catch guy, JJ has failed to get separation on any consistent basis and the few jump balls Wentz has sent his way have not been caught. At this point, Greg Ward Jr., or even Alex Ellis, is more deserving of a chance to see what they can do with that playing time.

Buy: Carson Wentz

Wentz was not perfect with a few missed receivers who could have gone for a pretty easy touchdown in Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert, but he was a leader. He can’t read every receiver on every play and he had another strong start. History will show he completed 19/36 for 259 yards and two touchdowns, but he could easily have been somewhere around 26/36 for 300+ yards and three touchdowns if he hadn’t had seven targets drop to the ground after hitting the receiver’s hands. He is trying to carry the offense, but someone else really needs to step up and not make these drive-killing mistakes – Wentz can’t throw the ball and catch it 15 yards downfield.

Sell: Nelson Agholor

Agholor did it again. His stat sheet looks pretty good with eight targets for 50 yards and his two touchdowns would make him seem like a productive player, but he had another drop in a key third-down situation to end a drive and then made a catch and somehow fumbled the ball without ever being touched, setting the Lions up already within field goal range and directly giving up three points in a game decided by three points.

With Desean and Alshon out, Agholor needed to step up and he hasn’t. His first two games as the leader have been of him trying to make up for the mistakes that may have directly cost the team each game they’ve played.

Buy: Mack Hollins

Mack had a big drop on the final drive of the game, but he at least played the rest of the game. Hollins had four catches for 62 yards and probably should have had a lot more if the referees hadn’t called some ticky-tack offensive pass interference calls on him. He made a big mistake, but for the fifth receiver on the team to be Wentz’s best target out of all the receivers is a big deal for Hollins.

Sell: Ronald Darby

Ronald Darby is the Eagles top corner. At least, he is on paper. Darby has been awful so far this season and the first half of the game consisted of the Lions throwing at whoever Darby was covering. The only incompletions they had with that strategy were due to another Eagles defender making a play or Matthew Stafford making a poor throw.

Two things that really show how bad he was: First, the defense looked slightly better in the second half when Darby was ruled out with a hamstring injury. Second, he played only half of the game and was second on the team with six tackles. A corner that nearly leads the team in tackles after playing just half a game? That means they are giving up a bunch of completions and only making plays after the catch is made.

Buy: Cameron Johnston

Lost in all the anger by fans is just how amazing Cameron Johnston has been. Johnston had three more kicks Sunday and landed one at the one-yard line. In fact, he averaged 48 yards per punt and that actually brought his season average down to 50.7 yards per punt (It was 51.9). Shane Lechler is the top of the leaderboard with 47.6 yards per punt (minimum 250 punts). Johnston has just 71 punts, but is averaging 48.5. If he is able to keep this up for three more seasons, he may find himself making history. No one thought that the Eagles would be moving on from the great Donnie Jones and get even better at the position.

Johnston is also at 40.8% inside the 20, where Lechter averaged 32.5% and Jones averaged 32.8%.

Sideline Chatter

  • This game is probably a win if the Eagles special teams didn’t flat out stink to start the game and allowed a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
  • Three fumbles and seven drops in a single game? You can’t be much worse. The only players that got targets and didn’t record a drop were Miles Sanders and Darren Sproles.

  • Miles Sanders was both the leading rusher and leading receiver for the Eagles Sunday afternoon. His two fumbles were certainly an issue, but it’s hard to argue that Sanders is a bust when he was the best weapon in both the ground and air game. Heck, with two catches for 73 yards, the Eagles might as well line him up as their second receiver behind Mack Hollins.
  • Rasul Douglas had a nice game without many obvious blown coverages. He also made a heads-up play scooping up the blocked kick and returned it within field-goal range for an attempt that could have tied the game had it not been for an unnecessary penalty.
  • This game was awful from an officiating perspective with the Eagles getting two offensive pass interference calls go against them that were really ticky-tack calls. The big misses, however were the offsides on a kickoff that benefited the Birds and a blatant facemask that nearly crippled Miles Sanders and was somehow missed by all the referees who were being paid to look for such infractions.
  • Josh Sweat has not been good, so it would be nice to see Daeshon Hall or Shareef Miller get some playing time to see if they can be an improvement, but the defensive line as a whole failed to get Matthew Stafford on the ground. They made him look like Michael Vick out there alluding tackles almost constantly, even when he was hit. That is flat out unacceptable.
  • Tight end Alex Ellis barely played, but he had a better game than Dallas Goedert, who dropped a touchdown pass and burned two minutes of clock. Ellis made a key block on Jordan Howard’s touchdown run.
  • List of drops in this contest: Nelson Agholor (x2), Dallas Goedert, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Jordan Howard, Mack Hollins and Zach Ertz

Team Focus

The Eagles take on the Packers in Green Bay in just three days. They have under 100 hours to fix the execution of just about every aspect of their game and hope that they can get guys like Kamu Grugier-Hill and Alshon Jeffery back.

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