Eagles Evaluation: Embarrassing Offense Replaced With Embarrassing Defense

Hard Rock Stadium

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Remember when the Eagles defense was playing lights out? When they held Super Bowl contenders to under 20 points? Not this week.

This week, the Eagles scored enough points that the only teams to score more than they did on the Dolphins this season were the Ravens, Patriots and Bills.

The only team to give up more points than the Eagles is no one. They had literally the worst defensive performance against the Dolphins and perhaps in the league.

No longer is just the offense embarrassed, everyone on this team should be embarrassed. They have all failed this city at some point since the bye week.

Personnel Changes

  • JJ Arcega-Whiteside played more snaps opposite Jeffery and showed his skill on off-schedule plays getting open. Now if he could just run scheduled routes correctly, he’d be huge in this team’s future.
  • Greg Ward Jr. played some snaps, but not too many. He at least saw the field and was able to make another catch in his limited reps this week.
  • Andre Dillard took over at left tackle on the Eagles two-point conversion to end the half, but for what reason is unknown. Peters returned during the team’s next offensive drive, which took place after halftime.

Stock Evaluations

Buy: Miles Sanders

17 rushes for 83 yards. Five catches for 22 yards and a touchdown. Sanders was clearly a steal in the second-round of the draft and a big piece of the Eagles moving forward as he continues to grow each week.

Sell: Jalen Mills

Mills has been nothing short of dominant, but had a terrible game on Sunday. All cornerbacks do, so there isn’t any reason the Eagles shouldn’t extend him. The penalties on him were occasionally his fault, but with calls like the overturned PI where the receiver falls into him with an uncatchable ball, the uncalled OPI on the touchdown pass, the uncalled OPI on his potential interception in the end zone, there were plenty that had to do with officiating that was not being called evenly on both teams. While Mills was still terrible, there is plenty of reason to believe he can turn it around again sooner rather than later.

Buy: Alshon Jeffery

Jeffery was making all sorts of catches, totaling nine for 137 yards and a touchdown. He also would have had plenty more yards had Wentz not overthrown him on a pair of deep routes that he managed to get open on. Had he done this any other week this season, the Eagles record would be far better than 5-7. Instead he has made himself a non-factor essentially every week after week one until now. If he can keep it up, the Eagles will be in much better shape going forward, whether that means he helps the team into the playoffs, is good for the team in 2020 or he ups his return in a potential trade.

Sell: Ronald Darby

Darby is fast, but he again showed why he is a corner instead of a receiver this week. Multiple times he had good coverage on his man, but instead of knocking the ball down, he would shove his hand in the air, fail to contact the football and then fall over. His interception should have been the start of a blow out, but it was his getting beat and failing to get his hand in the way on a play where he could have that opened the floodgates of Fitzmagic.

Buy: Carson Wentz

28 of 46 isn’t great, but considering that I can think of three incompletions that are on Ertz, one on JJAW and another that was better off as an incompletion, that isn’t too bad. 310 yards and three touchdowns is also good. Now, this doesn’t mean Wentz was great, as he still missed multiple open receivers with overthrows and failed to even target receivers open deep, but he was much improved over the past two games, so his stock is up. Eagles fans can hope that it is the first step to becoming an MVP-level player once again.

Sell: Nigel Bradham

Bradham missed multiple tackles in this one that would have been, at most, a two-yard gain and instead went for over 10 yards. He also had a golden chance to bring back the Eagles momentum and possibly give the Eagles the lead when a ball hit him in the chest. Instead, he dropped it and continued to miss tackles. Bradham is a shell of a player recently and there is a strong chance he isn’t back in 2020, especially if he keeps playing this poorly.

Sell: Jake Elliott

After landing a big extension, Elliott found his own way to contribute to the loss by missing a field goal that both gave the Dolphins their best field position of the game and allowed the lead to reach nine at the end of the game. Had Elliott made that field goal, the game goes to 31-20 in the Birds favor. Even if everything else goes the same, the Eagles are down just six late in the game and can go for it on fourth down instead of kicking a field goal. If the Eagles don’t score there and make the stop, they can make the stop and drive from the 50 instead of their own 25 with just eight seconds remaining. If they gain the 20 yards again, that means their last play is from the 30 instead of the 50.

All that is trying to say is that the missed field goal was huge in this game and it might be the first time that Elliott has failed to come up in a key moment since his rookie season.

Sell: Zach Ertz

Ertz had perhaps the worst game of his career. Three catches for 24 yards isn’t good. Even worse is that he blatantly dropped a touchdown pass, fell over on a pass that would have been a touchdown had he not fallen over for no reason and dropped a pass that would have extended another drive had he not scored a touchdown.

While the Eagles still managed a touchdown after his falling over, his dropped touchdown would have scored seven and made the game 35-37 as well as have given the Eagles the opportunity to get the ball back before the two-minute warning with the Eagles needing just a field goal to win. Not only that, but his drop that would have extended a drive had Jake Elliott attempt a 49-yard field goal that was missed instead of getting the Eagles a touchdown or even a 29-yard try if the offense didn’t gain another inch, not to mention the momentum shifts and the Dolphins not having that excellent field position.

Together, that is a minimum of a negative seven-point swing because of Ertz and is probably closer to a 10-point swing. If Ertz simply did his job and was just an average tight end Sunday, the Eagles win. They probably would have been better off with Josh Perkins playing the way Ertz played. Eagles fans can hope he won’t play like that again.

Sideline Chatter

  • Derek Barnett has been good this season, but following his injury in the first half, the pass rush all but disappeared. Part of that was quick throws, but on many deep passes, Fitzpatrick had all day to throw with no one getting any penetration. Even Barnett’s eventual return didn’t help much.
  • While not an excuse, the officiating in this game was terrible. Jalen Mills got called for pass interference calls not too different from plays that the Dolphins defense made while the Eagles were also called for multiple OPI that DeVante Parker was perfectly fine doing on both his touchdown and what could have been a Jalen Mills interception in the end zone.
  • Not only that, but they also attempted to call a huge completion to Agholor incomplete, despite him catching the ball, taking three steps, hitting the ground with his knee, hitting his knee on the turf and then losing the ball. Missing a call where the player is down twice and makes no less than three football moves? That’s an embarassment.
  • Despite utterly incompetent officials, the Eagles need to play a better game. last week they had one penalty. This week, they had 10. Disgusting.
  • Doug Pederson threw a lot more than he ran again in this one. That is certainly a bit questionable with Sanders’ performances over the past few weeks, but the Eagles have also seen Ajayi be effective running and he got barely any rush attempts aside from one called back due to a hold. It might also be good to keep in mind he was never a speedy guy or a horizontal guy as we could see by one of his rushes that got blown up.
  • Mack Hollins saw the field on offense again for a reason that no one knows. Of course, he had to make that known to us all by getting his name called for a penalty.

Team Focus

The Eagles play their NFC East rival Giants, so players will look at that match-up (at least hopefully, considering they did not do it last week). The front office should be focused on their offseason and draft strategies. Nothing they can do will fix this team – they have the talent everywhere except for a speed receiver, the players just aren’t playing to the level of their potential.

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