Eagles Evaluation: Injury Riddled Eagles Fall To Falcons

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Eagles were an injury ward walking around and playing sloppy football on Sunday Night Football yesterday.

While the defense stood up to keep an anemic offense in the game, all aspects of the game failed them. Change one play on offense, defense or special teams and the Eagles could very easily come out with a win. This makes it a tough game to swallow.

While a 24-20 loss isn’t the end of the world, the fact that Dallas Goedert and Alshon Jeffery didn’t play, DeSean Jackson made no impact before heading out and Tim Jernigan did not return for the second half, there is reason to be concerned about the rest of the season. The team could be out two of their top three defensive tackles and three of their top four targets for an extended period of time just two games into this season. Even worse is that none of these guys had even the slightest signs of an injury until the game.

Personnel Changes

The Eagles confirmed that Josh Sweat was their fourth defensive end as the second-year man was the only young DE active not named Derek Barnett. He had a better game than last week, but was nowhere near the game changer we saw in Daeshon Hall during the preseason.

JJ Arcega Whiteside and Mack Hollins served as the second and third wide receivers and the pair were not impressive for much of the game, though one did show flashes late.

Dallas Goedert was out of the game and, with no other tight ends on the roster, Zach Ertz was the only option for the Eagles at tight end other than a lineman, who wouldn’t help the depleted wide receivers corps for obvious reasons.

Sidney Jones, Carson Wentz, Jason Peters and Nelson Agholor missed parts of this game with injury or concussion testing in addition to the depletion of the receiving corps.

Tim Jernigan did not return after halftime, leaving Hassan Ridgeway to start next to Fletcher Cox and Akeem Spence as the only rotational tackle left. Jernigan was later spotted with a boot. If he is sidelined, the Eagles will have lost two of their top three tackles and Fletcher Cox still seems not 100%. That leaves the team leaning heavily on a guy they acquires for a seventh-round pick and a free agent who joined the team just a week ago.

It would seem Corey Clement will be out for an indefinite amount of time as, after his fumble, he was in an arm sling. The team could chose to bring up Boston Scott from the practice squad or look to sign Josh Adams from the Jets practice squad should they look for another running back. They also have receiver Marcus Green, who is likely really only on the squad as a return man, that they could choose to promote if they deem that aspect of the game more valuable.

LJ Fort once again played zero defensive snaps. A guy who only plays special teams and isn’t a specialist is not worth losing a fourth-round pick over. He needs to go before the deadline. The Eagles could sign him back if he doesn’t sign elsewhere first, but if he does, they aren’t losing much.

Stock Evaluations

Buy: Zach Ertz

Eight catches for 72 yards and a two-point conversion. Ertz wasn’t at his best, but carried an offense without a quarterback or a run game through the first half. You could say that he took a bad route or turn on the Eagles final offensive play, but we all know it was another target that had a chance to win the game and allowed a soft pass right to his hands to fall incomplete.

Sell: Carson Wentz

Don’t get me wrong, Wentz had an amazing 3/8 of a game, but from his MVP-caliber game last week, this was awful. Wentz spent half a game heaving passes to nowhere and even to defensive backs lying on the ground. Some miscommunication is expected with backup receivers, but there is no way he had no rapport with the first guy off the bench and even then he should have been able to hit his running back, Ertz or Agholor with some regularity instead of throwing the ball into the middle of nowhere. Sometimes the ball just needs to be thrown away.

Wentz will look to play a game from start to finish last week. This team cannot survive with a Nathan Peterman level performance for half a game before they get a quarterback to show up.

Buy: Jim Schwartz

The defensive coordinator finally changed his game plan. His game plan has kept the Eagles offense in, really, all but the 2018 regular-season Saints game since his arrival.

Despite that, he recognized the heavy losses the team was taking from injury and blitzed a lot. He took the aggressive role upon himself to keep the team in the game. It may have resulted in a huge touchdown pass to Julio Jones late in the game, but it also resulted in three interceptions and a third-down sack. Four huge plays, including three to keep points off the board, is well worth giving up a single additional touchdown.

Sell: Isaac Seumalo

Remember a week ago when there was so much talk about how great Seumalo was, how he was beefed up and how he was a Pro Bowl candidate? Those were better times. Seumalo was straight up terrible against the Falcons, Charles Barkley terrible.

He let Wentz get hit far too often and committed two holding penalties on run plays. A hold on a run play is bad, but two? The offense was stopped multiple times by Seumalo’s hand alone. The team might have been better with Big V starting at left guard.

Stefen Wisniewski is still a free agent.

Buy: Mack Hollins

Mack Hollins had a great play on special teams, pinning the Falcons to their own one-yard line. He almost earned himself a sell spot on this list after catching three passes for 17 yards through three quarters.

He finally came alive in the fourth adding two more receptions for an additional 33 yards with each reception coming on a high leverage down (one on third down and one on fourth down) to move the sticks. If Hollins can keep that up, he is the fourth wideout on this team and the first off the bench, not Arcega-Whiteside.

Sell: Corey Clement

Clement had a decent couple of kick returns, but they were not entirely impressive. The running back then fumbled the ball and turned it over deep in Eagles territory to start the second half. When the Eagles started to come alive, the offense was denied a possession and defense was forced to give up points unless they could manage a turnover.

Clement was injured on the play, so there is at least some excuse, but the injury may be an extended one and that makes Clement’s stock drop even further.

Sell: JJ Arcega-Whiteside

How about all that hype for Arcega-Whiteside this preseason? There is none now. 75 snaps and this man was able to get open enough to manage just four targets. Even worse is that his great contested catch man showed no ability to beat a defender and caught only one of those passes for four yards. The Eagles need more from someone they just spent a second-round pick on.

Sideline Chatter

  • I really want to list Agholor as a sell, but I can’t. Eight receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown is great production, but a drop on a pass off the hands, in-stride, running free to score a touchdown and take the lead with a minute left cannot happen. That was 2015 Agholor out there, getting a huge target and dropping it for absolutely no reason. While he did bounce back with a huge fourth-down reception to move the sticks later in the drive, there should have been no need for him to make that catch in the first place.

  • Be angry with Jim Schwartz’s sticks defense all you want (trust me, I will be), but the Eagles offense resembled that of the Browns during their no-win seasons for much of the game and he changed his game play to keep the team in the game.
  • The loss is brutal, but it certainly feels like it won’t be the worst part of this game as it would be a shock to learn that, with so many starters leaving the game or being out following the declaration of inactives, there are no long-term impacts to the health of any of these players going forward. The three receiving targets had soft tissue injuries just pop up in scenarios that seem to hark back to Darren Sproles in 2018, when he missed 10 games with a sudden soft tissue injury in his leg.
  • The Eagles learned about Alshon Jeffery and Dallas Goedert just a bit two late. Had they known about either just an hour earlier, they could have declared them inactive and at least had a few extra defensive ends to help mitigate the loss of Tim Jernigan in the second half.
  • If Nelson Agholor catches the ball on the final drive of the game for a wide-open touchdown, the Eagles win this game. If the defense stops a 54-yard touchdown pass on the Falcons final drive, the Eagles may win this game. If Corey Clement doesn’t fumble the opening kickoff of the second half and hand the Falcons the ball in field goal range to start the half, the Eagles may well win the game. Some of that is just luck, but in key situations, all three aspects of the game failed the Eagles and that will need to be addressed going forward.
  • Alshon Jeffery has dealt with major season-long injuries the past two season and the veteran receiver was sidelined for the second game of the season and did not play in a tough match-up due to an injury that suddenly popped up. Alshon has been a great influence and a fit for this city, but the Eagles are now spending a huge part of their cap on a receiver that seems to be constantly injured, even when he’s not getting hit.

Team Focus

The Eagles will be looking at playing the Detroit Lions, who are coming off a victory over the Chargers, next Sunday at 1 p.m., but their focus may be on the injury report instead.

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