Late Thoughts From Eagles-Panthers

CREDIT: Matt Rourke AP

Jim Schwartz Has Been Biggest Culprit For Eagles’ 3-4 Record

There was a lot of blame to go around for the Eagles’ miserable collapse in front of their home crowd on Sunday afternoon. However, the defensive coordinator may have had the biggest hand in this loss, and has been the most consistent recurring problem for this team as a whole. Tasked with protecting a 17-point lead in the second half, Schwartz cut any and all aggressiveness completely out of his defensive play calling, allowing the Panthers to march their way down the field for 21 unanswered points.

Schwartz continues to rely far too heavily on a four-man rush to generate pressure on the quarterback. Meanwhile, the defensive coverage that he calls continues to yield chunk play after chunk play. There’s so many strange elements to Schwartz’s philosophy. A guy like Dexter McDougle, signed off of the street before the game, was heavily involved in the defensive scheme, while last year’s third-round pick Rasul Douglas can’t get on the field.

 

“Tasked with protecting a 17-point lead… Schwartz [allowed] the Panthers to march their way down the field for 21 unanswered points.”

 

When the Panthers faced their fourth and 10 and the final drive, I had no confidence that Schwartz was going to be able to come up with a stop. It was like watching the Titans’ overtime drive from Week 4 all over again. It didn’t matter what the defense did on the first three downs, on fourth down you knew there was going to be some kind of horrendous breakdown to keep the drive alive and continue to swing momentum to the opposition.

Schwartz’s defense isn’t even a strength at home anymore. There needs to be drastic changes with this defense in the weeks to come. I don’t blame Jalen Mills for his failures nearly as much as I do Schwartz for putting him in those bad positions, but once Sidney Jones is healthy, it’s time for last year’s second round pick to take on a starting role on the outside. This is a guy that is a supposed top-10 talent, to restrict him as the nickel corner is hurting this defense.

Move Jones to the outside, Avonte Maddox to the slot, and Mills to safety.

 

Carson Wentz Deserves A Great Deal Of Blame As Well

Carson Wentz played a strong game for the most part on Sunday, but was made some crucial mistakes when it mattered most on the team’s final drive.

Wentz made some incredibly ill-advised throws, nearly turning the ball over on one attempt which he was lucky to have reviewed and overturned. But I thought Wentz’s poorest decision came on third and two, where he tried to force a ball in to Alshon Jeffery in the endzone rather than taking the easy first down on a check-down to a wide open Wendell Smallwood.

 

“Wentz made some incredibly ill-advised throws, nearly turning the ball over on one attempt which he was lucky to have reviewed and overturned.”

 

This isn’t the first time that Wentz has done this. He did the exact same thing earlier in the year against the Titans. In that situation, with two timeouts in your back pocket, take the easy first down, and load up for four shots in the end zone. Instead, they were forced into an all or nothing fourth and two, resulting in a fumble to end the game.

We tend to forget that Wentz is still a very young quarterback, and this is something he should learn from and iron out over time, but this is a sequence that cost the team a valuable win.

 

Quick Thoughts

Offense

  • Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery are without question the two brightest spots on this team right now.
  • Alshon has four touchdowns in as many games. Ertz has just been a machine, and a go-to between the 20’s for Wentz.
  • Nice to Dallas Goedert a little more involved, finishing as the third leading receiver on the team with four grabs for 43 yards and a score.
  • I’m still waiting for Shelton Gibson to get more of an opportunity. I fear my pleas are falling on deaf ears.
  • Doug just doesn’t feel good about his running back situation with Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood, with both guys being used very sparingly in the offense over the last few weeks.

Defense

  • This defense hasn’t generated nearly enough takeways. Really the only significant one that comes to mind on the season was Rasul Douglas (the guy who Schwartz won’t play) with a critical interception on Opening Night.
  • Speaking of Opening Night, has anyone seen Chris Long since that game? He’s been MIA since a strong showing in Week 1.
  • I was unsure about Michael Bennett to start the season, but he’s come up with some big plays in each of the last four games.
  • The lack of defensive tackle depth I think is starting to wear on Fletcher Cox’s effectiveness. Haloti Ngata has been out of the last two games, and with Destiny Vaeao now out of the picture as well, its been Cox on his own asked to work a heavy amount of snaps.

 

Special Teams

  • DeAndre Carter continues to impress as the team’s punt returner. I don’t know that I’d play him over Darren Sproles in that role, if Sproles ever returns from the hamstring injury.

 

Final Thoughts

At 3-4, the Eagles are in some trouble.

It’s not early anymore. It’s harder to excuse the mistakes, the poor play, and the poor coaching.

The NFC East is still well within their reach, but very difficult matches against top teams like the Saints and Rams are still on this schedule.

Even next week’s game against the Jaguars is far from a lock. It’s a must win for the Eagles, who really can’t afford to go into their bye at 3-5.

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