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November 24, 2019

First half observations: Seahawks 10, Eagles 3

Eagles NFL
112419-CarsonWentz-USAToday Bill Streicher/USA Today

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks linebacker Mychal Kendricks (56) and Jarran Reed (91) during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.

Carson Wentz was pathetic in the first half against the Seahawks and that's the biggest difference between the two teams so far. The Eagles trail Seattle 

Here's what I saw in the first 30 minutes on Sunday.

The Good

• Is Greg Ward the best receiver on the Eagles' roster not named DeSean Jackson? Do they need to cut one of their underperforming wideouts when everyone is healthy and just get him on the team full-time? Those are completely reasonable thoughts to have after a first half where he did the thing you expect guys to do when they get paid to catch balls for a living.

I think the first half said less about Ward than it did about the rest of their receiving core because it's not like they had Ward running exotic routes or killing Seattle over the top. He just, you know, actually decided to catch the football on the short/intermediate routes the Eagles run every week. Catching the ball is better than not catching the ball, I believe.

Even this silver lining is sort of an indictment on the Eagles, though. With guys like Mack Hollins stinking up the joint week after week, they apparently had a better option chillin' on the practice squad.

• The defense benefitted from an errant Russell Wilson throw that should have resulted in another Seattle touchdown, and they weren't particularly good at defending trick plays, but they made the best out of a very bad situation in the first half. They had to play mop-up duty on short fields thanks to a pair of Philadelphia turnovers, and holding Seattle to 10 points is a major victory.

We've been saying this a lot over the last month or so, but Fletcher Cox seems to be growing in stature as the season goes along, and when he's collapsing the line at the point of attack, the world changes for the Eagles on defense. Pair that with the improved health of the secondary, and suddenly Jim Schwartz has been able to throw some different looks at opponents, leading to some big sacks from members of the secondary in the first half.

They are doing everything they can to minimize damage despite being asked to do far too much to keep this team in games, and they deserve credit for standing tall. Now if only the offense could hold up their end of the bargain.

The Bad

• Wentz being down most (all?) of his weapons doesn't excuse him when he makes terrible throws that kill drives. On Philadelphia's first possession, he had Zach Ertz for a first down and threw the ball behind him for no discernible reason. There wasn't pressure, there wasn't help coming to pick him off, it was just a miss. 

And his throw to end Philadelphia's second possession was even worse, perhaps the worst throw we have seen him make all season. Miles Sanders was open for a potential touchdown (he had work left to do, to be sure) and Wentz sailed it several yards over his head, letting a drive that started in Seattle territory stall out for a field goal.

These are the sort of throws that fuel the debates every week about his ceiling and worth, because he has no one to blame but himself. I sympathize when his wideouts drop good throws, but he makes a lot of inexplicable errors. The weather impacted both quarterbacks in the first half, but Russell Wilson was out on the field dropping dimes going both directions, with his errors less glaring and frequent.

• I have more sympathy for Wentz on the fumble he coughed up in the first quarter, as Andre Dillard got absolutely obliterated on the play and he didn't have much time to operate. But holding the ball loose in a collapsing pocket is a silly fundamental error, and he was punished for it. The same applies to the interception he threw early in the second quarter — there wasn't a lot of room to operate nor did his receivers create separation, but Wentz threw a bad ball even within that context, gifting the Seahawks a turnover.

Let's keep going — on a sack he took late in the second quarter, Philadelphia's offensive line succumbed to a four-man rush and didn't offer him a whole lot of protection. But Wentz had Miles Sanders wide open on a swing pass that would have possibly earned Philly a first down, and not making the quick/read decision was enough to doom him.

There is basically no other story from the first half worth talking about. In a game where Wentz entered with low pressure and everyone ready to make excuses for him, he invited all the criticism he's going to get. He was bad in every way aside from his running, and he certainly wasn't good enough at that for it to make a difference.

Speaking of Dillard, holy hell was he just getting smoked in the first half. I know he said during the week that making the transition from one side of the line to the other is quite difficult, but it didn't seem like Seattle was beating him up because of any schematic issues, he was just getting straight-up bullied.

I can't even imagine how bad his day would have been if he had to go up against Jadaveon Clowney on Sunday, who the Eagles were fortunate to miss due to injury.

• Knowing the offensive line was in the shape it was in, the Eagles needed to get more creative with their playcalling. Hell, forget playcalling, why not try to roll Wentz out of the pocket by design instead of making him stand in a pocket that couldn't hold up long enough for him to throw anything deep?

That's on the coaching staff for not making any sort of adjustment to the game situation in front of them. My feelings on Mike Groh and Co. have been made pretty clear, but he should be selling snow to Eskimos this time next year. Hell, maybe next week, at this rate.

• D.K. Metcalf had a better/more difficult catch on Seattle's second drive than any Eagles receiver has come up with all season. If only the Eagles had been in a position to draft someone like Metcalf who can come up with plays to make life easier for the quarterback. What a shame.

(Of course I typed this and then he dropped a potential touchdown to close the first half. He would have fit in perfectly in Philly!)

Also a shame: the fact that the Eagles had no means with which to pick up Josh Gordon to play for their football team over the last month. Just absolutely no way they could have gotten a guy who has made some big plays on third downs in Seattle during his brief time there. Who needs football players that actually contribute?

The Ugly

• I mean, you watched the same half that I did, pretty much all of it was ugly.

• Not sure exactly what sort of illness Brandon Brooks was battling in the first half, but this offense has basically no chance to get rolling if he doesn't return in the second half.


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