Experience counts for quite a bit in the NFL.
Last Sunday night, the veteran, battle-tested team took the up-and-coming Eagles to task, and out played them in a disappointing 24-10 showing.
This was a loss where everyone really had a hand in it.
Doug Pederson didn’t manage the game very well. He really botched the challenge situations in the second half. Challenging Torrey Smith’s spot on what would have been fourth and short wasn’t a good decision. Spot challenges are so difficult to win, and in a situation where you’re down on the road in the second half, you can’t afford to waste a timeout like that, especially when it led to a fourth and one where the team was just going to go for it anyway. Pederson compounded that mistake by failing to challenge the Wilson lateral/forward pass later in the half. I don’t think that play would have necessarily been overturned, but that was the type of play to gamble with a challenge on, not the Torrey Smith play.
Carson Wentz’s fumble on the goalline on the team’s opening drive in the third quarter is the play that really lost the Eagles this game. That’s such a huge momentum shift, even though the Eagles were still only down 7 at the time, right when that play happened you knew it was going to be incredibly difficult for them to rally this time.
Jim Schwartz’s defensive gameplan was poor. Russell Wilson is a guy that is going to burn teams on broken plays when defenders lose contain. The gameplan for a guy like Wilson is similar to the blueprint that the great Jim Johnson had for Michael Vick in the NFC Championship Game in 2004. Contain the mobile quarterback, force him to beat you from the pocket, don’t get greedy and overpursue, or he’ll beat you with his legs all day. Wilson is a much better pocket passer than Michael Vick ever was, but the Eagles’ defenders constantly lost contain in this one, leading to the broken plays and drives that were extended by penalties.
- Halapoulivaati Vaitai had one of those games. One of those frightfully bad games that a young offensive tackle has, that makes you wonder why in the world the coaching staff doesn’t get him some kind of help. This was a game where the team really missed Jason Peters.
- The Eagles’ ground game never really got into a real rhythm in this one, but Jay Ajayi had a couple of nice runs. Hopefully an uptick in usage is coming for him soon.
- Ridiculous that Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz were not involved at all in the first half. This isn’t the Legion of Boom secondary. This was a depleted Seattle group without Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman.
- Breakout game for Nelson Agholor, who caught seven passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.
- This wasn’t Carson Wentz’s best game, but he still had a couple of special moments when he hit Agholor downfield twice to give the Eagles a little life in the second half.
- Russell Wilson just overwhelmed the Eagles’ defense. The defensive line was able to generate pressure on the Seattle quarterback, but his speed and pure playmaking ability was too much to handle.
- I’ve never seen a quarterback run backwards for 15-20 yards as often as Wilson did against the Eagles and still manage to make so many plays. This is what makes the Seahawks such a dangerous team, and its what separates Wilson from the rest of the league’s quarterbacks.
- Not a great game for Mychal Kendricks, who really got exposed in coverage.
- In the second half, the Eagles had a bad series where they just couldn’t get off the field on third downs. Twice in the same drive, they extended the Seahawks’ possession with dumb penalties. These mistakes have to be cleaned up moving forward.
All things considered, this was a disappointing effort from the Eagles.
This was this team’s chance to really assert their dominance over the NFC, and it was one of the few times this year that the team came out flat and wasn’t ready to play.
But at the end of the day, the things that went wrong here are pretty forgivable, given the level of play we’ve seen from this roster in the other 11 weeks.
Doug Pederson has been very good about learning from his mistakes during his short career as head coach, and I would expect this group to come back much stronger against the Rams this weekend.
This loss could ultimately be a positive thing if the team responds well to it.