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October 15, 2021

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Buccaneers game

On a short week against the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football, the Philadelphia Eagles turned a blowout loss into a more respectable loss, at least on paper, losing 28-22. As always, win, lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Stock Down' Award 📉: Jalen Hurts

Hurts battled in this game, but he simply missed way too many makeable throws. Off the top of my head:

  1. He missed an easy throw, well short, on a comeback route to Jalen Reagor.
  2. He badly missed Zach Ertz on a corner route to the turkey hole.
  3. He threw way off-target to DeVonta Smith, who had to turn into a defensive back and swat the ball away to prevent an INT.
  4. He had Quez Watkins streaking down the field with a step on his man, but he threw short and too far inside, once again forcing his receiver to turn into a defensive back, except on that occasion it was an INT.

On the night, Hurts was 12 of 26 for 115 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. The game plan wasn't good and Hurts was chased around all night by Bucs pass rushers, so this game wasn't all on him, but he wasn't good. This was a step in the wrong direction for his season-long "tryout" to be the Eagles' starting quarterback in 2022 and beyond. 

2) The 'Run the Ball' Award 🏃‍♂️💨: Nick Sirianni

The Buccaneers have one of the best run defenses in the NFL, if not the best. That's by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles' design. What Bowles wants to do defensively is shut down the run, make opposing offenses one-dimensional, and thus more predictable, and easier to defend.

Sirianni's game plan did not include a run presence. In the first half, Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell combined for one measly rushing attempt. They essentially gave Bowles exactly what he wanted, which was a one-dimensional, predictable offense. The Bucs' defense achieved their No. 1 objective just by showing up.

The Eagles are a finesse offense. There's no other way to say it, and it's not their players' fault. It's extremely hard to be physical when the play caller just doesn't run the ball, at all. And you know who loves that? Defenses! By completely ignoring the run, opposing defenses go into attack mode, and they stay in attack mode.

The NFL is a passing league, and the "RUN THE BALL!" crowd has long been a bane on the city of Philadelphia. But you can't just not run the ball and expect to win when you have an inaccurate quarterback, three starters missing along your offensive line, and three starting receivers who are all 23 years of age or younger.

They did eventually run the ball late in the game, oh and hey(!) they had some success with it, but it was too late. Nick Sirianni has turned reasonable people into "RUN THE BALL!" boomers.

3) The 'Did Their Part' Award 🤝: The Eagles' defense

Defensively, it looked early on like it was going to be an ugly night, as the Bucs had consecutive 75-yard TD drives on their first two possessions. But as the game progressed, the defense did enough to force 3 punts, a turnover on downs, an INT, and second INT that didn't count.

Against an offense with the best player in NFL history, the best WR trio in the NFL, and a very good offensive line, they did about as well as one could reasonably expect.

4) The 'Creativity' Award 🎨: Not Nick Sirianni

The Eagles had a weird first offensive drive with a couple of lucky plays, and they were able to score. Thereafter, on their next six drives, here's what they did:

  1. 3 plays, 7 yards, punt.
  2. 3 plays, 5 yards, punt.
  3. 3 plays, 15 yards, INT.
  4. 3 plays, 5 yards, punt.
  5. 3 plays, 6 yards, punt.
  6. 3 plays, 4 yards, punt.

Add it up, and you have 18 plays, 42 yards, five 3-and-outs, and a pick. As a result of those extremely quick possessions, the Eagles held the ball for just 20 minutes and four seconds, and they only ran 47 offensive plays. The Bucs had the ball for 39 minutes and 56 seconds, and they ran 73 offensive plays.

In their post-game interviews, both Jalen Hurts and Jordan Mailata praised the Buccaneers defense for having a good game plan. Mailata said that the Buccaneers knew what the Eagles were going to do offensively, and the Eagles weren't quick enough to adapt.

"I feel like they knew what we were doing straight away, so we just had to adapt," Mailata said. "It took a little bit of time to adapt, but as I said, they do their homework, too, just like we do, and we have to learn to adapt, and we have to learn to do that faster."

Every team in the NFL has seen their share of RPOs. This isn't 2017, when RPOs were innovative, and teams hadn't yet caught up on how to stop them consistently. You can still use RPOs as a tool, but if you're building your entire offense around them, you're five years too late.

5) The 'Emotional, Part II' Award: Zach Ertz

Prior to the start of the game, FOX's Jay Glazer reported that there is interest from around the league in both Ertz and Dallas Goedert.

I'll go ahead and transcribe that for you, if you're the reading type:

"Several teams around the NFL have been calling the Eagles this week about trading for one of their tight ends, Zach Ertz or Dallas Goedert. I wouldn't be surprised if one of them got traded at sometime this week."

Remember when Ertz got emotional after the final game after the 2020 season because he thought he had played his last game for the Eagles? Well, he showed some emotion again after the loss Thursday night.

Ertz had 4 catches for 29 yards and a TD. We'll see if something happens with him on the trade front.

6) The 'Hard To Watch' Award 🙈: The Officials

The Eagles didn't lose this game because of officiating. But Good Lord was the officiating atrocious in this game. The Buccaneers mugged Eagles receivers all night, and while they were called a few times for pass interference, they got away with blatant, obvious pass interference on several occasions. 

Additionally, Genard Avery was called for perhaps the lamest "taunting" penalty I've ever seen.

Should Avery just go back to the huddle? Sure. You want to make a terrible call like that in the first quarter to show the players who's boss? I don't like that either, but alright, fine. But to throw a flag on that with under six minutes to go? GTFOH. 

And then there was the INT by Marcus Epps that didn't count.

You can see that the ball moves a bit, but it looked more like Epps moved it himself, as opposed to it being moved as a result of hitting the ground, and losing control. The call on the field was an INT, and indisputable evidence that it wasn't a pick didn't exist, so I'm not sure how that got overturned.

Now, to be clear, while more bad calls went against the Eagles, they did also benefit from other bad calls (or no-calls or whatever). The officials missed an obvious hold by Mailata on the Eagles' first drive that helped lead to a score.

7) The 'Dagger' Award 🗡: Tom Brady

I mean, he's good. On 3rd and 7 with a chance to put the game away, he threw to a double-covered Antonio Brown, and this all but sealed it.


8) The 'Easier Road Ahead' Award 🛣: The Eagles' schedule

After games against guys like Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, and Tom Brady, the Eagles will begin to face less scary quarterbacks the rest of the way. A sneak peek at the projected starters they'll face:

• Week 7: Derek Carr, Raiders
• Week 8: Jared Goff, Lions
• Week 9: Justin Herbert, Chargers
• Week 10: Teddy Bridgewater, Broncos
• Week 11: Jameis Winston, Saints
• Week 12: Daniel Jones, Giants
• Week 13: Zach Wilson, Jets
• Week 15: Taylor Heinicke or Ryan Fitzpatrick, WFT
• Week 16: Daniel Jones, Giants
• Week 17: Taylor Heinicke or Ryan Fitzpatrick, WFT
• Week 18: Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Herbert and Prescott are very good quarterbacks. The rest? Eh.

9) The 'Never Quit' Award: The Eagles

The Eagles were down 28-7 and could have very easily just packed it in, but they fought for four quarters and made it a game. There's something to be said for that, but playing hard all game isn't going to please anyone for long if the team continues to rack up losses.

10) The 'Silver Lining' Award 🌈: Draft pickzzzz!

If the season ended today (it doesn't), the Eagles would have three top-eight draft picks. So at least mock draft season will be fun.


Yes, I know. Howie Roseman will still be making the picks.

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