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October 26, 2015

The Eagles lost to the Panthers because they can't catch

Eagles NFL
102615JordanMatthews Bob Leverone/AP

Mmmmmm... Drrrrrop.

One thing that has been abundantly clear from the beginning of this season all the way through the Eagles' first seven games is that they are not good at catching the football.

"I don't have an answer for why, but we have too many (drops) for us to be successful," said Chip Kelly. "I thought Sam threw the ball well, threw with authority tonight, but the drops obviously hurt big time. We gotta get an answer for that."

Sunday night in Charlotte the Eagles dropped, by my unofficial count, seven passes. Most of them were huge plays that affected the outcome of the game. Let's review them, in chronological order:

  1. Jordan Mathews had a drop on a pass that was thrown behind him, but he was able to get both hands on the ball. He could not bring it in, and the ball landed in the lap of a Carolina defender for an interception.
  2. Matthews then had a drop on a 3rd and 9 that likely would have led to a first down. Instead the Eagles were forced to punt. That drop was essentially the equivalent of a turnover.
  3. Josh Huff had a drop over the middle on 3rd and 4 that killed a drive. Again, a loose equivalent of a turnover.
  4. In the red zone, Darren Sproles had a drop on a throw to the flat. He probably would not have scored, but he would have likely picked up around 5 or 6 yards on the play, which are huge when you get in that close to the goal line.
  5. Huff dropped what should have been a touchdown in the back of the end zone. The Eagles had to settle for a field goal instead. -4 points.
  6. On the Eagles' "last chance" drive, Zach Ertz dropped a pass on 3rd and long. He may not have picked up the first down had he been able to make the reception, but it would have been a far more manageable distance on fourth down if he did.
  7. Fittingly, Miles Austin dropped a pass on the very next play to essentially seal the loss.

Here were all the Eagles' drops, in video form:

As Kelly noted, he does not have an answer for why his players are dropping passes. In the locker room after the game, the players didn't have much in the way of answers in terms of how to fix it. One astute, anonymous Eagles player had a solution, per John Clark of CSN Philly:

Good idea.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski