One of the Eagles’ best qualities during their three-game winning streak to start the season was that they appeared to be well-coached and well-prepared.
During the last two weeks, they’ve been neither of those things.
The Eagles for the second straight week committed over 110 yards worth of penalties. Bad penalties, on both sides of the ball. Penalties that extended drives for the Redskins, and killed drives for the offense.
The worst may have been in the second half, an illegal block in the back penalty on Wendell Smallwood wiped out a 30+ yard catch and run by Dorial Green-Beckham, which forced the team into a punting situation instead of giving them an opportunity to score in Redskins territory.
The Eagles haven’t just underperformed on the field, the coaching staff has done a poor job getting these guys ready to go.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai Or Winston Justice 2.0?
During the week, head coach Doug Pederson declared with confidence that fifth-round rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai was “ready” for NFL action.
Reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Vaitai was abused left and right by the Redskins early and often. He allowed three sacks in the first half alone, including a couple of critical, drive-killing plays.
Pederson throughout the game refused to give Vaitai any help. The pass protection suffered throughout the game, culminating with two sacks on the Birds’ final possession.
Pederson needs to seriously rethink his strategy to replace Lane Johnson. With the ferocious defense of the Minnesota Vikings coming to town next week, the challenge is going to become much greater for Big V.
It would seem that the logical move would be to play the veterans, Alan Barbre at right tackle, and Stefan Wisnieski at left guard.
Defense/Special Teams Touchdowns Kept Eagles In Game, At A Price
It was as though the clock had turned back to 2014.
With a struggling offense, the Eagles had to rely on big plays from their defense and special teams units to stay in the game during the first half.
Following the Redskins’ second touchdown, a kickoff return touchdown from Wendell Smallwood put the Birds on the board. On the ensuing Washington drive, Kirk Cousins threw an interception to Malcolm Jenkins (he hung on to one!) who took the ball back to the house to tie the game at 14.
Unfortunately, these scores came with a cost of their own.
The defense was forced to stay on the field for almost the entire second quarter. As a result of the heavy workload, the unit was completely gassed by the time the Redskins went on their third scoring drive.
The Eagles’ offense ran just 17 plays in the first half, as opposed to 40 for Washington.
- Jordan Matthews’ drops frustrate me more than any other player I can remember. What is it with him and the general lack of concentration.
- It was nice to see Wendell Smallwood invovled early in the gameplan after not receiving a single carry a week ago.
- It’s worth noting that Smallwood seems to have completely surpassed Kenjon Barner in the running back rotation at this point.
- Another week, Jason Kelce continues to commit multiple penalties.
- Ryan Mathews recovered from his killer fumble a week ago to rush for 60 yards on nine carries.
- The Eagles completed passes to seven different receivers, but only Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor caught more than one ball.
- Terrible drop in the red zone by Zach Ertz, who was in position to walk in for a touchdown.
- The Eagles showed all kinds of poor tackling throughout the game. Perhaps none worse than Mychal Kendricks, who slid off of Rob Kelley during his big run in the second quarter.
- Kendricks made a nice play later in the second quarter, dropping Jamison Crowder for a 10-yard lose, but even then the play shouldn’t have been blown dead.
- Credit Marcus Smith for postively impacting a game! Smith pressured Cousins into his pick-six to Malcolm Jenkins in the second quarter.
- Rodney McLeod led the team with 13 tackles.
- I thought Jalen Mills had some nice moments. He’s benefited from the continued absence of Leodis McKelvin.
- With the Redskins running the ball so well, and the Eagles struggling to control gaps, why wasn’t veteran Stephen Tulloch given more snaps? This was a spot where Tulloch’s skillset and experience were perfect for.
- Caleb Sturgis made both of his field goal attempts.
- Chris Maragos made a great open-field tackle in the second half.
Three great wins followed by two really bad losses.
The biggest positive from this game, once again, was the play of Carson Wentz. Wentz stood in the face of a brutal pass rush throughout the day and was still able to deliver some big throws.
However, the coaching of both Pederson and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz left a great deal to be desired.
I hated the way that Pederson coached this game. From the lack of help for Vaitai, to the decision to burn a timeout, and then punt the football away with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the rookie head coach made a lot of mistakes today.
For Schwartz, it was inexcusable for this defense to perform as poor as they did coming off of a bad showing the week before against Detroit.
The Eagles now enter an absolutely brutal stretch of the schedule, and if things don’t change soon, a promising beginning to the season could very quickly go south.
Follow Denny Basens on Twitter, @DennyBasens