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January 05, 2020

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Seahawks playoff game

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120_01052020_EaglesvsSeahawks_Carson_Wentz_KateFrese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Eagles QB Carson Wentz throws a pass during the Philly's wild card loss to the Seahawks.

The Philadelphia Eagles' 2019 season is over after suffering a frustrating 17-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, which happened to be the exact same score of the Eagles' loss to Seattle Week 12. But that's hardly the story here.

Win or lose, as always, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Cheap Shot' Award: Jadeveon Clowney

This game was really over before it barely got underway, after Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney clearly intended to injure Carson Wentz. And he did, as Wentz was forced to leave the game with a concussion. Of course, as you all saw, Clowney was not flagged on the play. Here's the slow-mo shot:

Here's the regular speed, "play on the field" shot, where Wentz gives himself up, and you can basically see the moment Clowney decides he's going to try to injure Wentz, and then does so:

And here's one last angle:

010520JadeveonClowney

Head referee Shawn Smith was asked after the game why Clowney wasn't flagged. His response: 

"He was a runner and he did not give himself up. We saw incidental helmet contact, and in our judgment, we didn't rule that to be a foul."

What an absolutely garbage explanation on so many levels. Roger Goodell was in attendance for this game, and he should suspend Clowney for that hit, but the guess here is that Clowney will avoid harsh discipline. I would expect a slap on the wrist, at best, and wouldn't be surprised if there was no punishment at all, as a punishment would require the NFL to take accountability for a player obviously trying to injure a quarterback, concussing him, and not even getting flagged for it.

The Eagles scratched and clawed their way into the playoffs, winning four straight games with a skeleton crew on offense, and in a blink, on the actions of an obviously dirty play, it was over.

The Eagles probably weren't legitimate Super Bowl contenders, but the biggest benefit of making it into the playoffs was that Wentz would get a playoff game under his belt, and that didn't really even happen. He finished 1/4 for 3 yards, and a concussion. This Seahawks team wasn't good, and the biggest reason they won, quite simply, was because of a unquestionably bush league cheap shot.

2) The 'OH DEAR LORD THE TAKES ARE GOING TO BE MINDNUMBINGLY AWFUL' Award: Blithering idiots

Sam Monson, you are a blithering idiot.

Brandon Stokley, you are blithering idiot.

Brandon Stokley? Brandon Stokley? (In Chris Rock voice)... Brandon Stokley?!?  Lol, anyway, moving on...

Orlando Scandrick, you're unemployed, and you're embarrassingly terrible on TV.

And Josina Anderson, this tweet undermines your credibility as a reporter who should be taken seriously.

010520JosinaAnderson

Oh what's that? You meant that to be a positive message?

(Middle finger emoji.)

3) The 'Common Theme, Part I' Award: Injuries

Seemingly every week this year, the Eagles suffered a new batch of injuries, which we detailed in stick figure form (up until Week 9 -- we'll update that soon). That also happened in 2018, and even in the Eagles' Super Bowl season in 2017. And yet, the Eagles battled through them, and still made the playoffs, albeit the last two seasons with a somewhat mediocre 9-7 record. 

Still, the Eagles need to figure out why this theme has continued, because three straight years of this has to be more than just a crazy coincidence. Do they need to get younger? Buy some more foam rollers? Fire their medical staff into the sun? All options should be on the table.

4) The 'Common Theme, Part II' Award: A huge drop

Late in the fourth quarter, on a key fourth down, Doug Pederson made the correct decision to go for it on 4th and 4 with his team down 8 points, and he called a play that would have worked if the Eagles had executed.  However, Josh McCown threw it a touch behind Miles Sanders, who should have caught it anyway, but could not bring it in.

Drops probably cost the Eagles games against the Falcons and Lions, and maybe the Patri*ts. While I wouldn't put this drop in that same bucket, it was obviously very costly.

However, #UnlikeAgholor, Sanders has a bright future with the Eagles.

5) The 'Common Theme, Part III' Award: Deep passes allowed down the field

Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf smoked Avonte Maddox down the field for a TD.

And he ended the game with a great catch way down the field, and let the Philly faithful know it:

That was really the perfect end to this season. During the regular season, the Eagles allowed 15 pass plays of 40 or more yards. Only one team, the Raiders (16), allowed more. On Sunday, the Eagles allowed those two plays above to Metcalf, as well as another 38-yarder to David Moore that led to a TD.

6) The 'Common Theme, Part IV' Award: The Eagles' lack of offensive big-play ability

After DeSean Jackson got hurt in Week 1 and (essentially) missed the rest of the season, the Eagles' really had nothing in the way of a deep threat down the field. 

They had to sustain long, plodding, 10-plus play drives that ate up a lot of clock and required a bunch of third down conversions. They made it work at times, mostly because Carson Wentz is so good. It was not sustainable, and in the playoffs, the slow, plodding offense came to a grinding halt.

The Eagles' "practice squad all-star" receivers combined for 4 catches for 29 yards. Second round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who was selected seven spots ahead of Metcalf, was shut out. They just simply didn't have the firepower.

And, oh, by the way:

Player Rec Yards YPC TD 
 J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (17 games)10 169 16.9 
 DK Metcalf (Sunday vs. the Eagles)160 22.9 


7) The 'Not Such An Advantage After All' Award: The trenches

The defensive line got some pressure in this matchup, but far too often Russell Wilson was able to evade the pass rush and make crucial plays, especially on third down.

The offensive line, meanwhile, gave up 7 sacks, with plenty of blame to go around there. The Eagles needed to dominate in the trenches, especially after losing Wentz, and they did not.

The one notable exception that we'll make here is that Fletcher Cox played a hell of a game, and looked like the elite player he once was. That is at least an encouraging development heading into the offseason.

8) The 'Nemesis (or Nemsises, or Nesmesi?)' Award: The Seahawks (and Saints too, I suppose)

This is pretty self-explanatory, right? The Seahawks and Saints own the Eagles, and they also happen to be the last two teams to eliminate them from the playoffs. The Eagles will get another crack at them both at home in 2020

9) The 'Last Dance?' Award: A bunch of Eagles veterans

There are a lot of Eagles who may have played their last games as Eagles. Darren Sproles said he is retiring. Beyond him, a lot of familiar faces could be gone in 2020. Jason Peters? Alshon Jeffery? Malcolm Jenkins? Rodney McLeod? Nigel Bradham? Vinny Curry? Jalen Mills? Ronald Darby? Jordan Howard? Kamu Grugier-Hill?

The front office has a lot to figure out.

10) The Silver Lining Award: Wentz, Pederson, and the team's resiliency 

This Eagles entered the 2019 season as Super Bowl contenders, and then they weren't, and then they made the best of a roster that should have never had a chance to legitimately compete for a Super Bowl. In that sense, this season was both a disappointment, and a success. Does that make sense? Yes? No? Whatever.

Wentz became more of a leader, Pederson kept his team competing, and the rest of the roster battled through injuries and never quit, when they had ample opportunities.


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