Are you noticing a pattern yet?
Once again, the Philadelphia Eagles came out completely flat and unprepared. They were dreadful in the first half, and it cost them in a critical division loss to the Washington Redskins.
The Birds offense didn’t show up in the first half, and they fell behind 13-0. Despite a decent second-half showing that resulted in three touchdowns, the Eagles for the second straight week couldn’t figure out how to close out an opponent, and allowed the Redskins to hang around.
Unlike the New York Jets, the Redskins took advantage of the Eagles’ inadequacies, and Kirk Cousins engineered a 15-play, 90-yard drive that bled the clock down to about 25 seconds and finished with a touchdown to give Washington a late lead.
Billy Davis Has No Answers For Kirk Cousins On 90-Yard Drive
Far and away, the Eagles’ defense has not been their biggest issue this year.
They’ve played pretty admirably through the first part of the season, and Chip Kelly’s failures and shortsightedness on the offensive side of the ball are the primary reason that this team is 1-3.
But Billy Davis didn’t help at all today, when his defense couldn’t find a way to stop Kirk Cousins and the Redskins’ offense on a 90-yard drive to close out the game.
The problem with Billy Davis is that he’s an extremely vanilla defensive coordinator who doesn’t bring any kind of innovative schemes or creativity to the table. And when it gets down to crunch-time situations like the one the Eagles faced today, he doesn’t have any tricks up his sleeve that he can turn to.
There very few blitzes, let alone anything elaborate. Cornerbacks rarely receive safety help or double teams. To me, its as if the Eagles’ defensive scheme relies very heavily on the individual talent of each player, and their ability to hold their own against their basic matchup.
The Offensive Line Is An Abysmal Disaster
Jason Peters was already showing signs of age, and now he’s having trouble simply staying on the field every week. Peters left in the first half with an injury, forcing the Eagles to slide Matt Tobin out to left tackle and Dennis Kelly into the right guard slot.
The result was a line that was under siege for the entire game, and allowed struggling quarterback Sam Bradford to take a pounding.
Again, I keep coming back to how inexcusable it was for Kelly to fail to address the offensive line. I understand and agree with the decision to move on from Todd Herremans, but releasing Evan Mathis was the ultimate in arrogance, and now His Majesty is paying for it.
Kelly has stated that some of the lineman available in free agency had “too high a price tag”, but he didn’t have any problem dumping a good portion of that cap space into expensive running backs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews.
It doesn’t matter who the running backs are, if the offensive line is a pathetic joke, you’re going to get results like the Eagles have been getting early in the season. Today’s miserable output? Murray ran just eight times for 36 yards. Mathews took five carries for 20.
Finally, Bradford Begins To Throw Deep
If there was a positive to be found in today’s disaster, it was that we finally saw some signs of life from quarterback Sam Bradford.
Bradford was miserable until the second quarter, when he FINALLY began to take some shots down the field. It began with a 45-yard gain to Nelson Agholor at the end of the second quarter, and after that play, Bradford seemed to finally settle in a bit and took shots down the field for the rest of the game.
Bradford came to life in the second half, igniting the Eagles’ comeback with a 62-yard to bomb to Riley Cooper to put the Eagles on the board.
On the Eagles’ next drive, Bradford hit Jordan Matthews for a 30-yard strike to put them deep in Redskins territory. Several plays later, the former Ram did a good job avoiding the rush, and found veteran tight end Brent Celek for a score.
Two drives later, Bradford hit Miles Austin for a 39-yard touchdown to give the Eagles their first lead of the day.
Bradford wasn’t perfect. There were still overthrows. There were still passes thrown behind receivers. But it was by far his most encouraging performance as an Eagle to date.
This Week In Sports Science!
Renowned for being the healthiest team in the league, here’s what Chip Kelly’s sports science did to keep the Eagles’ top players on the field this week.
Jason Peters left the game with a quad injury that he had been battling in practice throughout the week.
Mychal Kendricks, who had missed the previous week with a hamstring injury, left the game early in the first quarter after reinjuring it.
Byron Maxwell, Brandon Bair and Fletcher Cox also both left the game with injuries.
- It was good to see the Eagles get receivers other than Jordan Matthews involved in this game. Riley Cooper, Nelson Agholor, and Miles Austin all made big plays in the receiving game.
- Agholor finished with three catches for 65 yards, and I really feel that his 45-yarder went a long way towards settling the offense and making the second-half breakout possible.
- However, Agholor also cost the team with a critical fumble on a botched reverse that became an Eagles turnover, costing them an opportunity for points.
- Agholor was also flagged for an illegal formation penalty that wiped out a touchdown pass to Zach Ertz. The Eagles would have to settle for a field goal attempt, which was botched by Caleb Sturgis.
- Lane Johnson was terrible today, allowing several sacks on Bradford.
- Jason Kelce also continues to struggle, and was flagged for another holding penalty. Its bad enough that the Eagles are struggling to keep their offensive line healthy, but when the few remaining starters make critical mistakes, it just becomes too much to get by.
- DeMarco Murray doesn’t look comfortable in this system. He’s used to running behind an elite offensive line, a fullback, and having Dez Bryant around for defenses to focus on.
- Why no involvement for Darren Sproles in the passing game? Sproles was held without a reception, which is inexcusable on Chip Kelly’s part.
- Brandon Graham played his best game of the season. Graham picked up a sack in the first half, and also came up with a critical forced fumble to generate a turnover that led to an Eagles’ touchdown.
- Malcolm Jenkins led the team with eight tackles, remaining very active.
- Marcus Smith, inactive once again. We’ll now look to game #21 of his career for him to make some kind of contribution.
- Eric Rowe was forced to play the majority of the game thanks to Byron Maxwell’s injury, and seemed to do a decent enough job.
- Connor Barwin has been a bit disappointing so far. Just one sack in four games, and hasn’t made a lot of plays.
- Darren Sproles continues to be one of the players on this team that the Birds can count on to show up week to week. Sproles ignited the lifeless Eagles for the second straight week, with a 49-yard punt return at the end of the second half. He gave the Birds a quality scoring opportunity, although the ever-bumbling offense were forced to settle for a field goal attempt.
- And said field goal attempt was botched by newly signed kicker Caleb Sturgis.
- Sturgis missed his only field goal attempt, and also missed an extra point attempt. His four points left on the field might have swung the game to the Eagles’ favor.
Chip Kelly, welcome to the basement of the NFC East.
The head coach is revolutionizing the game with his 0-3 conference record, and his 0-2 record within the division against the dumpster fire that is the Washington Redskins, and a Dallas Cowboy team that was without their star receiver and starting quarterback.
Its flat out inexcusable for this team to not come out with a better effort against a division opponent, and frankly an opponent that they should have no business losing to.
Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins, without DeSean Jackson, managed a 90-yard drive that bled out the clock to beat the Eagles? Its absolutely disgraceful.
The Eagles are still struggling with recurring issues that they’ve had all season, and their inability to put a team away and finish a game came back to bite them today. They got away with it against the Jets, but this week their failures killed them.
The good news is that all is not lost, and there were some positives that came out of this game with Sam Bradford and the passing game.
But at 1-3, Chip is running out of time and excuses to clean things up and get this team performing at a consistent level.
Follow Denny Basens on Twitter, @DennyBasens