Thoughts From Eagles-Cowboys

Nov 8, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) goes up for the touchdown catch during the second half of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Pederson Coaches Terrible Fourth Quarter To Fuel Eagles’ Collapse

There were many factors that led the Eagles to defeat on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys. But none greater than two horrendous decisions by head coach Doug Pederson.

Pederson’s decision to give rookie running back Wendell Smallwood the ball on the first carry of the team’s first possession of the fourth quarter was the beginning of the end for the Birds. It was the first time all game that Smallwood had touched the ball. The fifth-round pick fumbled the ball away, setting up Dallas with a short field that they converted into three points.

I think Smallwood has done some nice things for the offense, but for him to be touching the ball for the first time that late in the game is just asking for trouble. I can understand a reluctance to go to Ryan Mathews, whose fumbling issues had effectively played him out of the role, but Smallwood should never have been put into that situation.

The other major gaffe was the decision to punt the football late in the fourth quarter rather than have Caleb Sturgis try a long field goal.

Sturgis had been nothing but rock solid and dependable for the Eagles all year. He even drilled a 56-yard attempt before the half ended to give the Eagles the lead. There was no reason not to trust him.

In that spot, the Eagles desperately needed to make it a two-score game. The defense had enjoyed some success in slowing the Cowboys offense, but it was a lot to ask for them to keep them off the board for the rest of the quarter.

You have to hope that Pederson, a rookie head coach, learns from these errors and corrects them in the future.

The Eagles’ Offense Is Absolutely Putrid

Were it not for Carson Wentz, this offense would be absolutely unwatchable.

We’ve all harped on this plenty of times before, but the skill position players are some of the worst in the entire league, and their lack of effectiveness helped cost the Eagles the game tonight.

Nelson Agholor is an absolute failure. He has no football IQ, and can’t get himself open to make plays. There’s nothing about him that suggests he’s worth a first-round pick, and at this point its very hard for to imagine him on this team next year.

Jordan Matthews put up decent numbers, but drops are always going to be a major issue for him. And he’s not good enough to play the outside. He’s strictly a slot receiver, which is a problem. He can serve as a decent complimentary piece, but never a number-one receiver.

Dorial Green-Beckham is the one guy that’s overflowing with talent and potential, but the boneheaded mistakes and drops are such that they could produce brain¬†aneurysms.

Finally, why in the world isn’t Zach Ertz a factor on this offense? The highly-paid tight end chipped in a grand total of four catches for only 19 yards. On an offense desperate for playmakers, its inexcusable that Ertz has gone over a month without being significantly involved.

Things aren’t much better at the running back position.

Darren Sproles is just a tremendous player, and a hell of a competitor. At times, the veteran put the Eagles on his back, and was the only guy doing anything with the football. He led the team with 86 yards on 15 carries. But the fact that he was the featured guy in this offense speaks volumes about how poor the other running backs, including fellow veteran Ryan Mathews, are.

The Eagles don’t have anyone that they can count on to make a play in the passing game, and until that changes, its going to be harder for this team to succeed if wideouts and tight ends can’t get open.

Quick Thoughts


  • The Eagles were unable to take any kind of shot down the field with the weapons they have at the skill positions. As such, Dallas was able to adjust as the game went on and made it easier to clamp down on Wentz and Sproles. You can’t succeed in this league playing offense within a 15-yard box.
  • I think it was a mistake to go away from Ryan Mathews as heavily as the Eagles did this week. I understand that a message needed to be sent given his recent fumbles, but he’s still a veteran with some pop in his game, and Darren Sproles can’t take the pounding that he took tonight and remain effective.
  • After tonight’s game, I wouldn’t at all be shocked if the Eagles intensified their efforts to bring in a veteran receiver.
  • Good lord, I can’t stand Nelson Agholor.
  • Big V has been improving in each of his starts.


  • The Eagles’ defense did what they could against the weapons of the Dallas offense, and held their own for quite awhile, but ultimately were outmatched.
  • The team did successfully hold Ezekial Elliot below 100 rushing yards without Bennie Logan.
  • Jordan Hicks has been much more active over the last few weeks. Hicks came down with a big interception in the endzone in the first half that swung momentum in the Eagles’ favor.
  • Leodis McKelvin had an opportunity to do the same at the end of the game, but dropped a potential pick in the fourth quarter in the final two minutes.
  • Dak Prescott’s mobility was too much for the pass rush to overcome. The Eagles managed just two sacks (Marcus Smith, Connor Barwin).
  • Dez Bryant only caught four passes, but did major damage with each one, going for over 100 yards and a touchdown.

Special Teams

  • Credit Josh Huff with this much. He’s near useless as a wide receiver, but he’s developing into one of the game’s top young kick returners.

Final Thoughts

Absolute heartbreaker of a loss.

Dropping to 4-3, essentially three games behind the first-place Cowboys and dropping to 0-2 in the division is going to make it very difficult for the Eagles to win the NFC East.

And its going to be rough unless the team is able to swing a trade to upgrade the wide receivers.

But for all that went wrong tonight, the team fought well and were in front of the Cowboys for most of the game. Positives were still there to be found, but not enough.

Follow Denny Basens on Twitter, @DennyBasens

34 thoughts on “Thoughts From Eagles-Cowboys

  1. I am still livid about this one. Terrible coaching, esp in the first half, though I think it began early when the roughing the kicker penalty made it 4th and 1 in the red-zone and Pederson elected to keep the 3 pts. I thought that was the wrong call. Be aggressive early.

    Its clear to me that Pederson doesn’t have any faith in his offence.

    1 – He does not trust Agholor to do anything
    2 – He does not trust DGB to run routes properly
    3 – He does not trust Ryan ‘the invisible man’ Matthews
    4 – He no longer trusts Smallwood

    On top of that….I no longer trust J Matthews or Ertz.

    Eagles aren’t going to win many games with Sproles and Wentz at the only two viable weapons on O.

    That being said, please do not trade for Torrey Smith who is more of the same.

  2. Well GCOBBers. What a heartbreaking loss. I was at the game and had awesome seats so I was able to see a lot of the mistakes clearly. Our receivers are putrid! Horrible! Pushovers! And worst of all just plain Dumb! We need help bad if we are trying to make the playoffs this season. Sproles and Wentz pretty much led the team to all the points. I mean we led of this game. The decision not to kick a field in the 4th killed us. It rejuvenated the team and the crowd.

    Credit to our defense. Especially our DBs. They were physical and in the Cowboys face all night. Mills is fearless and relentless. Our safeties are great! But man they needed help from our offense.

  3. This WR corps is Charles Johnson and Torrance Smalls 2.0.
    At this point we all can see where the Eagles need upgrades and improvement at. I’m still angry because we had the game in our hands and snatched a loss out of the jaws of victory.
    The Eagles WR’s are putrid. I’m not sure how much the TE’s stayed in to block, but I did not hear Celek’s name at all, and Ertz is just well below average. I have to admit I wanted Ertz the year he was drafted, but he is disappointing. He self tackles more than Maclin.
    Agholor, please bench him, he shows no explosion, ability to consistently catch the ball, no ability to gain YAC or game awareness. What he does have is a big mouth. Give the kid Treggs a shot at least he can stretch the field. The Eagles need to draft two wide receivers early. I don’t want to hear that big time receivers are not necessary or needed.
    Further, please draft Texas RB D’Onta Foreman. The kids a beast and does not fumble the ball.

    1. Man that is an insult to Charles Johnson, who was a ”decent” receiver in his heyday. Who on this team is gonna score 7 tds, other than JMath??? I’d take Torrance Small over Agholor ANY DAY.

  4. Man was fun for a minute thinking we had a playoff run in us.

    You just can’t win in the NFL with no weapons. You could waive our entire wr group and pick guys up of the street that could do just as good. This is awful. Nelson assholar blows and shouldn’t play anymore. Give dgb all his snaps. Ertz is trash. Our rbs need to be upgraded.

    Need to draft one of these stud rbs on college and sign alshon this offseason.

    Dak isn’t very good but a juice head rb and a great o line and a stud wr and reliable te makes him look good. We have none of it. Have to get a wr rb and build the o line this offseason.

  5. Ugh….so frustrating.

    I really lay this one at the feet of the HC, his staff and front office.

    – It doesn’t take a genius to see that we do not have a legitimate threat in our receiving corp.

    – Pederson choosing to punt instead of a 53 yard field goal was the difference in the game. Not to mention the play call on 3rd down stunk for the situation.

    – Special teams have been good this year, but allowing a 38 yard fake punt is a failure of Coach Fipp. At that point in the game the Cowgirls were dead, and that play gave them life and the start of a comeback

    – On a good note…I liked the way the Eagles went to the quick tempo offense and put the defense back on their heels. Every with the injuries, the offensive line was not as weak as I expected. Elliott is a good back, but ultimately I thought the defense did an ok job of handling him. Wentz did fine, but the lack of talent in the receiving corp is going to stunt his development.

    This team has to learn how to win on the road….cut down on stupid mistakes and learn going forward. DO NOT make a bad trade at the deadline just because of this game…the guys (receivers) that are available are available for a reason.

    1. I don’t think our lack of weapons is going to stunt his development. Matter of fact I think it fast tracks his development. Wentz has been sharp all year with ass for weapons. Everyone knows are weapons are shit and wentz knows it and knows he has to be that much better and work that much harder to compensate. Guys playing at an elite level with nobodies. When he gets his weapons and he eventually will everything’s going to get that much easier for him … this hopefully is the worst it’s going to ever be with lack of a supporting cast for him and he is ballin. Give him weapons and he’s gonna kill it. No stunting of growth for this man

      1. Sure it does. Look at his pass distribution chart from last night….all short and mid-level passes. He doesn’t have a receiver that can even come close to getting open down field. Defenses are crowding the field and playing so much man coverage because of these poor receivers. To Pederson and Reich’s credit, the move to up-tempo forced the Cowboy’s into more zone coverage and created soft areas for completions, but still no receiver that can get open over the top. Yeah sure, you learn best through adversity, but without a competent receiving corp Wentz’s full potential will be slowed until we address the position.

        1. Agree his full potential won’t be realized until he has weapons. No doubt about it but disagree his growth will be stunted. They’re 2 different arguments

  6. First, I get that we had this game and let it slip away. The sting will last for a little while. However, that was arguably the best team in the NFC as we led by 10 in the fourth and it took overtime, on the road to beat us.

    As for playoffs – they are hardly out of reach. The easiest path to a playoff run is to protect home field and steal 2-3 on the road (one of those road wins being against a division opponent). With a win next week we will be on pace for just that with two of our toughest home games behind us.

    As for the game itself….I agree the receivers are putrid. Not getting nearly enough out of that position. Doug didnt have his best game but I disagree that his two biggest gaffs were giving it to smallwood and punting in the 4th.

    The fourth quarter fumbles are not on him. You can’t give it to a 33 year old RB every run. These other guys just simply need to hold onto the football. Forget about yards, just dont put it on the ground. Aside from Sproles who else do you give it to there? Barner and Smallwood were both cold and Mathews has fumbled in the 4th twice this season.

    As for the punt, that was the right call IMO. It is very Monday morning quarterbackish to say he should have kicked the FG. That is a huge spot in the game and if he misses, the crowd is juiced and they get the ball at the 40. Smart money was to kick and let our defense who had played a great second half see what they can do.

    The bonehead play was not the punt, but rather the swing pass the play before. You run straight at the line in that spot. Worse case scenario its no gain and you kick to make it a two score game.

    Regardless of the shortcomings this team shows, I like what I am seeing. They are forming an identity. Tough defense with a smart QB. That will give us a fighting chance in any game which is all you can ask for. .

  7. What a disappointment… Such a disappointing loss..

    We need a game breaking WR NOW!

    They need to look into acquiring Josh Gordon or Alshon Jeffery or both!

    We will not make the playoffs with these bum WRs

    Noway nohow

    This is another game were going to regret later in the year when they’re battling to get into the playoffs

    You don’t put Small wood in the game in the 2nd half with no touches in the 1st half Doug!!!!!! They’ve been fumbling the past 3 weeks!!! Are you kidding me?!?!

    You had these jerks against the wall in there house and you let them out!!!


    1. Josh Gordon is exactly what a young impressionable team doesn’t need. Hrs been giving men enough chances and disappointed every time. He’s also still suspended and property of the browns. Nobody is trading for a suspended fuck up.

      Regarding alshon, if we won last night I’d say go for it but not now. At 4-4 with a bunch of flaws u can’t give up a 1st or 2nd for a wr whose contract expires at year end. We just aren’t 1 weapon away from challenging for a title. If we want him we can get him for no draft picks this offseason in all likelihood. I want alshon today but it’s not the right move at this time for this team

      1. Agreed…I don’t want any of these receivers being discussed in trades. All have baggage and it is questionable how much of an upgrade they would actually provide. Gordon is probably the best pure talent receiver discussed, but I don’t want his anywhere near this team. Wait for the off-season IMO, and address it through FA, draft or trade.

        As a related note, I would like to see us look at a “Monster TE” type…6’8″ type of guy…basketball background…to create mismatches etc…..I am getting frustrated with Ertz history of nagging injuries and in my opinion not living up to all of his hype.

        1. greenfan, Va. Tech TE Bucky Hodges 6’7″ 245, primarily a pass catching TE who gets down field.

          WR I like, DeDe Westbrook, 5’11” 175 (Oklahoma)…dynamic play making WR who can catch!!!

          Cliff’s boy Corey Davis 6’3″ 205 Western maker. It would be great if the Eagles could get two of the three.

          1. Thanks EHL…yes Hodges was one guy that I was thinking of, but I have only seen him play against Tenn this year. I just see the TE position moving towards that type…like Gronk…and what we are seeing from Ertz is less than stellar.

            1. I’m extremely disappointed in Ertz. At some point they are going to have to add a new TE…Celek isn’t getting younger and Ertz is just not even a factor. If available in the second take a shot. The Eagles need weapons and they need them bad. The Eagles will not be able to upgrade every position next off season, but, the skill positions are brutally weak. I still want to use a first on an OT or CB, but after that they have to give Carson guys that can catch and make plays. Hodges and Westbrook are those guys.

              1. I want them to concentrate on improving the offensive line. If we can have a very strong offensive line, then it will give even our pedestrian receivers more time to get open. A strong line can make our running game stronger. I am of the opinion that it all starts with the offensive line, and if you can make that unit as strong as possible it will help pretty much every skill position on the offense.

              2. our pedestrian receivers have gotten open, but they drop the passes when the ball hits them in the hands.
                The O line needs another Tackle and a Guard. I still believe Isaac Seumalo will be the 2017 starting Center.
                If Vaiti can continue to play solid and improve each week the RT position is taken care of.
                Lane Johnson will man the LT position, but I draft a LT high Ryan Ramyzech Wisconsin or The tackle from ND Mike McGlinchy.
                Guard Quentin Nelson from Notre Dame or LSU C/G Ethan Pocic.

              3. All true…the drops have given me high blood-pressure watching the games.

                Too many positions on the line that need to be addressed. I see improvement from Big V, so that is good. Kelce is an undersized and older concern and should be addressed. Big concern is Lane, and his dependability…one more failed test and he is out for 2 years. Big risk in my eyes. Another question is Stoutland…is he doing a good job or not? I am not really sure, but everytime I watch the Steelers and see Alajandro at LT it makes we question how we let him get out of here.

  8. Screaming about getting “superstar” WRs is an overraction. The Eagles do not need superstar WRs, nor do they need to take one early in the draft.

    What they do need are competent WRs. Just competent.

    Agholor can be summed up on the first play when he was supposed to block on the screen and it was an embarassment. The Eagles don’t need a superstar there….just a guy who will stand in front of the Safety and hold him up for ONE SECOND instead of….I don’t know what to call that…getting humiliated/ with a abysmal combination of ‘whiffing’ and ‘getting trucked’

    You don’t need a superstar to catch a perfectly thrown slant that guarantees a first and goal at the 4. You just need a competent guy.

    The 4th down FG punt fiasco was totally caused by Pederson’s complete lack of faith in just about every offensive player on the offence.

    Its 8 mins to go in the 4th and you can’t trust Matthews who has fumbled a game away in that situation. He can’t trust Smallwood who had fumbled the previous drive. He can’t trust Matthews of Agholor to catch anything. He can’t trust DGB or Agholor to run where they’re supposed to. (Agholor had just run a nice 10 yard hook on 3rd and 11)

    So he leans on Wentz and Sproles. Now it should have been 3 straight runs up the middle once they reached the 32….that would have eaten 2 mins and resulted in a nice 45 yrd attempt……

    I dunno….I think Pederson was scared, and his offence made him that way.

    1. Dougs had multiple games now where he was utterly clueless on how to close. From strange play calls when we are behind or tie to trying to bleed the clock to soon. He needs to do better

    1. Wow… The Pats just refuse to play their Top Young Players who are approaching Free-Agency Top $$$ as Collins was heading into Free-Agency this Off-Season.. The Same thing happened with Chandler Jones who they Traded to the Cardinals in the Summer for Guard Jonathon Cooper, who they since have Released, and a Draft Pick…

      1. The Pats have done this for years and have gained some nice draft picks in the process. In the grand scheme of things this has never hurt the Pats in any significant way they are still a 12 win team regardless.

  9. Greenfan, the Eagles are a middle of the pack team in transition, you won’t many races with hayburners for your horses,We dont even know how Doug will work out yet.And the recieiving corp,No commentary needed on that bunch of average at best group! Its’ going to be awhile .

  10. If the Eagles don’t get Alshon or Torrey Smith, then they need to look into acquiring Brandon Marshall who is a very productive WR and a deep threat that stretches the field. He’s 32 but can still ball! Remember Sproles is 33..

    Right now no team fears us down the field so they’re keeping everything in front of them forcing us to dink and dunk..

    Marshall would change that

    And he’s another big target, he’s 6’4 230

    I would also look into trading for Josh Gordon who we could get on the cheap maybe a 6th or 7th and give him time to learn the playbook since he’s currently on suspension

    I doubt they’d acquire two WRs, but they need at least one

    Marshall is available to be had I’m hearing so the Birds need to look into it as well as trading for Josh Gordon..

  11. Your passion for the Eagles ,is a good thing, but I feel you know what I meant, They are in transition to hopefullly become a solid, playofff contender.Which I would love to see, but as of today, they need quite a few pieces in place , You are a solid football guy , It would redundant , me tellling you that, I feel your pain.,but the hardest part ,thanks to Howie is in place. The other parts are hopefully coming .Me? I.m hoping Doug grows into a top line H.C.

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