This game was the Eagles season in a vacuum. Two steps forward, one step back. Any momentum gained last night was countered by a drop or three, penalties or a missed FG. Through 7 weeks this team continues to shoot themselves in the foot. I’ll be honest it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. Bradford will not appear in my Like/Dislike segment but I didn’t think he was that bad. With a shuffled line and joke of a WR corp he battled all night. I thought the manipulated the pocket well and overall did a nice job. I really thought the Eagles were going to win this game. Shame on me. Here is the my prediction from the preview blog:
Prediction – The Panthers haven’t played a team like the Eagles this season. Same goes for the Eagles as they haven’t played a team like the Panthers. I mentioned above this game is about 3rd downs. If the Eagles can keep Newton in the pocket and prevent him from moving the chains the Eagles will win this game. Last year they did just that. This year I believe Newton will make some plays, however this opportunistic defense should be able to get their hands on the ball. Eagles 28 – Panthers 23.
WHAT I LIKED
Ryan Mathews – Mathews has been the Eagles most consistent offensive performer all season. He continues to be a nice change of pace for this offense. Last night was no different. He ran hard and busted a 60+ yard TD run the jolt the Eagles back in the game.
Opportunistic Defense – This Eagles defense is a playoff defense being held down by a youth football offense. In fact you’ll see a youth team stretch the field more than this current Eagles team. This defense added 3 more TO’s to their season total and really kept the Eagles in the game when the Panthers seemingly could have took control. Nolan Carroll and Malcom Jenkins continue to make plays around the football. PFF had both Eagles safeties rated in the top 5. You can see last night both Thurmond and Jenkins are exactly what this team needs. Byron Maxwell added his first INT in an Eagles uniform as well.
Matt Tobin – Tobin was put in a tough spot after Peters injury but I really thought he played well. I don’t count the last couple plays because it didn’t matter as proved by the 2 dropped balls to end the game. Chris Collinsworth mentioned Tobin in the broadcast and it was worth mentioning. He filled in nicely. A full game might be a tougher task with Greg Hardy and the Cowboys looming but the Eagles will cross that bridge later.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Run Defense – The Panthers are a different animal when it comes to the run game. Stewart, Tolbert and Newton are tough to handle but I didn’t think this run defense was as solid as it’s been in prior weeks. Credit the Panthers for creating holes and moving the piles. The Eagles had no answers for this running game.
Caleb Sturgis – Chip said he was sticking with Sturgis after the Redskins game. He might want to re-evaluate now. A missed FG and a Kickoff out of bounds really turned momentum. The missed FG was crippling to the Eagles efforts to fight back in this game. The team seemed deflated after forcing a 3rd TO and getting no points to show for it.
Play Calling – For the first time in weeks I really have to question Chip Kelly and his play calling. At one point during this game Eagles had ran 44 plays for an average of 3.9 yards. This has to change if the Eagles want to become a more consistent team. In the end whoever Sam throws the ball to will just drop it anyway but the field needs to be stretched to keep the defense honest. The most frustrating point in this game came on a 3rd – 9 in the 4th quarter. The Eagles called a TO which I was fine with. It was a big play. After the TO they throw a WR screen for a loss/no gain. Again the Eagles had some momentum and lost it. Two steps forward, one step back.
Dropped Passes – Last night was atrocious. If you’ve noticed reading above I’ve been dropping shuttle hints about this. I am beyond annoyed and frustrated with the drops. Last night everyone had a hand in dropping a pass. The running backs had 2/3, the WR’s have 5/6 and Ertz added one for the TE group on the final drive. This is exactly what I was referring to when I say two steps forward, one step back. These drops are killing drives and momentum. Jordan Matthews is by far the worst and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better. He is an absolute liability as evidence by this first drop resulting in a INT. At some point the guys and Matthews in particular need to be hold accountable. If it was up to me he would be on the bench until it’s fixed. He’s not getting open anyway so it doesn’t matter. Nelson Agholor needs to get healthy soon. Chip and the coaching staff needs to break out the tennis balls. There needs to be a focus on hand eye coordination.
The Eagles have a bye next week and it couldn’t come at a better time. With injuries to the OL and WR core this gives two weeks for them to rest up. In my opinion Chip should hit the reset button and really re-evaluate where this team stands and what needs to be done. They get back on the field vs the Dallas Cowboys again on Sunday Night Football in two weeks.
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Episode 7 of the Birds Scoop podcast coming soon.