Pass Rush MIA (AGAIN)
We really haven’t talked enough about how underwhelming the Eagles’ defensive line and pass rush has been this season.
The return to the wide-nine defense was supposed to provide opportunity for a lot of the Eagles’ talented young defensive lineman to flourish. But it hasn’t worked out that way.
The pass rush was held without a sack against the Green Bay Packers, and barely generated any pressure. Given the amount of draft picks and salary tied up to the defensive line, this simply isn’t an acceptable result.
Fletcher Cox? In for an assist on just one tackle. Cox hasn’t had a sack since Week 4 against the Detroit Lions.
Brandon Graham? Just one sack in the last five games.
Vinny Curry? Just 1.5 sacks on the season, just a half a sack since Week 5.
Its hard to believe that all three of these guys are underachieving at such a shocking level, so there has to be something wrong with the scheme and the way Jim Schwartz is asking these guys to attack the quarterback.
But the lack of a consistent pass rush has been this defense’s biggest problem throughout the season, and it killed the team tonight. Aaron Rodgers was given all the time in the world to find his open receivers, and with no lineman getting in his face consistently, he was able to carve up the Birds’ defense all night.
Jim Schwartz has done a lot of good for this football team, but he’s got a lot of talented defensive lineman and he isn’t getting nearly enough out of them.
Pederson’s Playcalling Remains Baffling
Once again, I did not like how head coach Doug Pederson managed the game.
The Eagles’ first offensive drive was a thing of beauty. Carson Wentz took advantage of weaknesses in the Green Bay secondary, and picked them apart with Dorial Green-Beckham, connecting with the big target four times for over 50 yards on the opening drive alone.
And the Eagles barely targeted DGB for the rest of the game.
Instead, Pederson went back to calling a lot of long-developing plays, too many screen passes, he pretty much discouraged Wentz from taking shots down the field that had been effective early in the game.
The Packers soon were able to anticipate a lot of the Eagles’ play calls, and with no threat of stretching the field, Green Bay was able to take away and severely limit a lot of what the team was looking to accomplish.
Wentz, A One-Man Show
Carson Wentz did all he could to put the team on his back and keep the Eagles in the game on Monday night.
With a patchwork offensive line, banged up running backs, and even thinner group of wide receivers than normal, Wentz was able to make a lot of impressive plays with his legs to extend drives and give the team a chance for some additional scoring drives.
Wentz’s only blemish of the night came on an overthrown pass to Zach Ertz that resulted in an interception, but its tough to blame him for the loss given that he may have been the only reason that team was even competitive tonight.
- I don’t understand why the Eagles didn’t make any kind of effort to get Paul Turner involved in the game. Turner was active for the first time all season, but didn’t appear to so much as get in the game. On a night where the team was already short on receivers with Nelson Agholor inactive and Jordan Matthews banged up, why not give Turner some looks on an offense desperate for someone to step up?
- Speaking of Agholor, his absence was most welcome. Textbook example of addition by subtraction.
- Tights ends were complete non-factors once again, which should surprise no one.
- Jason Kelce misfired on another snap, which ended up killing a crticial drive in the second half. The Eagles seriously need to think long and hard about moving on from him and upgrading the center position, but I don’t get the sense that such a thought is even on their minds.
- Its hard for me to fault the secondary with the pass rush being so ineffective, but the Eagles’ defensive backs were in position to make plays several times tonight and just failed to do so.
- The worst of which might have been Nolan Carroll, who was in perfect position to at least break up a touchdown pass headed for Davante Adams.
- The Eagles barely called any blitzes tonight, despite the defensive lineman struggling against Rodgers.
- Caleb Sturgis nailed both of his field goal attempts, keeping the Eagles in the game.
A lot of people expected the Eagles to win this game, and frankly I never bought into that idea.
The Packers had been struggling, but Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers, and the Green Bay offense still has plenty of weapons to attack with.
And on a night where the Eagles were down two starters on the offensive line, and banged up at what little depth they had at the skill positions, this just wasn’t a game that I saw them coming out with a win.
The Birds have dropped below the .500 mark for the first time all season. The playoffs aren’t completely out of the question, but its going to be a tough road for a team that is just too young and lacking talent in certain areas to keep up with the better teams.
Follow Denny Basens on Twitter, @DennyBasens