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September 27, 2020

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Bengals game

Eagles NFL
092720DougPederson3 Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Who are you, and what did you do with Doug Pederson?

The only sure thing heading into the Philadelphia Eagles' matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals was that both teams wouldn't lose. As it turned out, neither of them lost, as they dueled to a 23-23 tie with one of the more pathetic overtimes you'll ever see.

As always, win or lose, or tie, I guess, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Playing Not To Lose, Like Literally' Award: Doug Pederson

In 2017, Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl making ballsy decisions. During that season, including the playoffs, Pederson went for it 29 times, most in the league, and generated 71 more points for the Eagles than they would have gotten otherwise if they had punted, like cowards. After that season, he published a book, called "Fearless."

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2017 Pederson is rolling over in his grave watching what 2020 Pederson did against the Bengals on Sunday. With 19 seconds left on the clock in OT, the Eagles lined up to attempt a 59-yard field goal for the win. However, Matt Pryor false started, moving the Eagles back five yards.

OK, so now it's a 64 yarder, which would also happens to equal the league record. Is Jake Elliott likely to make that? No, probably not, but it certainly wasn't out of the realm of possibility, seeing as he has hit from 61 in the past, and earlier in the game, he hit a 54 yarder with plenty of room to spare. If you make it, celebrations all around! If you punt, you have basically no chance of winning.

Pederson opted to punt.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

(Takes a deep breath)...

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Pederson literally played not to lose.

2) The 'What's the Downside' Award: Also Doug Pederson

The reasoning Pederson gave for punting was that if you try a 64-yard field goal, or a Hail Mary, or if you try to go for it on 4th and 12 and you don't get it, you give the Bengals great field position going the other way.

Well, OK, so let's examine that. There were 19 seconds left when the Eagles punted. Let's say they kick a field goal and miss. Now it's Bengals ball at the Eagles' 46 with, ohhhh, 12-ish seconds left? Is that fair? At that point, the Bengals have three options:

  1. They can try a 64 yard field goal of their own.
  2. They can try a Hail Mary.
  3. They can try to pick up more yards and then attempt a more manageable field goal, but since they had no timeouts left, the only possibility for that would have been to complete a pass along the sideline in which the receiver was able to get out of bounds. You're really playing with fire on this option, given that the Eagles had eight sacks on the day, and a sack-fumble-return would be in play, and since the Eagles know that the ball is either being thrown for a Hail Mary or along the sideline, the risk of a pick-six is greater. 

The threat of the Bengals scoring on their ensuing position really wasn't much greater than the Eagles' chances of just ending the game with a long Elliott field goal.

3) The 'Better Than a Loss' Award: Ties, I guess, but really not here

There's actually some merit to the idea that a tie really isn't much worse than a loss, if you're just looking purely at the standings. After all, the Eagles already have one loss to a divisional rival, and a terrible divisional rival at that, as well as a loss to another NFC team. In addition to being 0-2 heading into this game, they were setting up to be in bad position on tie-breakers later in the season. In that respect, a tie really isn't that much worse than a loss.

However, on the morale side, the outcome of this game is every bit as bad as a loss. After two really bad losses Weeks 1 and 2, this team desperately needed a win, at home, against a team that hasn't won on the road since Week 4 of 2018 (14 straight losses), and they didn't get it. There's nothing OK about this result.


MORE: Carson Wentz has gone from potential superstar to game-manager | Final observations: Eagles 23, Bengals 23 (OT) | First half observations: Eagles 13, Bengals 10


4) The 'Sailing Away' Award: Carson Wentz's accuracy

Even in his outstanding season in 2017, Wentz was never going to be mistaken for Joe Montana on the accuracy front. But Good Lord, his regression in that area has been stunning. 

I could name a bunch of the bad throws, but I know I'd leave some out, so the exercise of showing how inaccurate he was is probably best saved for another day. But you all saw it. There's no more blame for wide receivers dropping passes, or poor protection, or anything else. He's simply just missing his targets.

He was so inaccurate today that his best throw of the day was arguably to Zach Ertz, who may or may not have been the intended target, lol. Ertz was running a route directly behind John Hightower, and when the ball sailed over Hightower's head, it landed in Ertz's hands, in stride.

The Eagles should seriously just make two guys run the same pattern, one guy a few yards deeper than the other, so when Wentz overthrows the intended target, he can still complete passes. Call it "The Buddy System Offense." It'll take the league by storm.

WentzErtzHightower

The Eagles didn't even need to hire 30 new offensive coaches this offseason. Just cluster up a bunch of receivers and Carson's passes will find someone

Carson Wentz in the huddle: "OK, we're gonna run 4 verts, on 1, on 1... Buddy up now, ready..."

Everyone else in the huddle: "Break"

092720ReadyBuddy

It's a better plan than whatever is happening on the field through these first three games.

5) The 'Let's Check In On Nick Foles' Award: Local Philadelphia Radio

The Eagles tied the Bengals, with Wentz having three possessions in overtime, on a day in which Nick Foles, down 16 coming onto the field in relief of Mitch Trubisky, led the Bears to three touchdown drives with a little more than nine minutes left in the game. That's basically WIP's wet dream.

6) The 'Where Was the Run?' Award: Miles Sanders

The Bengals stink against the run, as we pointed out in detail in our five matchups to watch. Their run defense numbers in 2019:

 Bengals run defenseStat Rank 
 Rushing yards allowed per game148.9 32 
 Yards per carry4.73 25 
 Rushing TDs allowed17 27 
 Runs of 20+ yards allowed22 31 
 Rushing first downs allowed124 T-30 
 Percentage of runs resulting in a 1st down 24.624 


They have been even worse against the run so far in 2020, allowing 190 rushing yards per game heading into this matchup.

And so, it made sense to lean heavily on Miles Sanders, given the Bengals' crappy run defense and Wentz's obvious struggles. Instead, Sanders got 18 carries (a decent amount, but not enough) for 95 yards, while Wentz attempted 47 passes. 

7) The You Get a Flag And You Get a Flag And You Get a Flag' Award: The Eagles' penalties

The Eagles were penalized 11 times for 93 yards, and while I would disagree with the Malik Jackson roughing the passer call, it was a reasonably well-officiated game. Obviously the Pryor penalty was a big one, and cost the team a chance at a game-wining field goal, but overall, a team as old and experienced as the Eagles should not be making that many mental mistakes.

8) The 'Invisible' Award: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Prior to this matchup, Pederson said that Arcega-Whiteside should have a bigger role, with Jalen Reagor out. No targets. On the season, Arcega-Whiteside has two targets. One was picked off, and the other was a drop. Hell, in the red zone at the end of regulation, Richard Rodgers was lining up as a wide receiver, and Arcega-Whiteside was on the bench. Rodgers had as many targets today as Arcega-Whiteside has so far on the season.

9) The 'I Guess We Should Point Out Some Good' Award: Elliott, Darius Slay, Greg Ward, and the Eagles' defensive line

Absolved of blame for this game:

  1. Elliott was 3/3 on his field goals, including the aforementioned 54 yarder.
  2. Slay had great coverage all day, including some key stops in overtime.
  3. Ward went 8-72-1.
  4. On the day, the Eagles had eight sacks, and 18(!) QB hits. The defensive line was really good, for the first time this year.

10) The 'Hang On, Let Me Check the Scoreboard' Award: The Awful NFC East

Surely, this is the end of the Eagles' season now, right? Let me just check the scoreboard. Oh come on!

The Giants lost, the Football Team lost, and as of this writing the Cowboys are down to the Seahawks. The Eagles might actually gain ground on the entire NFC East today? That is not justice.

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