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November 12, 2018

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Cowboys game


Oh, should I write more than just that? Alright, fine. The Philadelphia Eagles just aren't very good this season, as we all saw Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys on national television, and as we have already seen so far throughout the rest of this season, for that matter. They are now 4-5, and look a whole lot like a 4-5 team. As always, win or lose, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Spinning Their Wheels' Award: The Eagles' offense

In so many games so far this season, the Eagles have been unable to put points on the board in the first quarter. They have scored 21 points in the first quarter, or 2.3 first quarter points per game. That's not good. #Analysis.

We should probably just stop trying to compare this team to the 2017 team because they aren't comparable, but for the purpose of context, here's what that team did in the first quarter of games vs. what this team is doing in the first quarter:

1st quarter points 2017 2018 
 Game 1
 Game 2
 Game 3
 Game 410 
 Game 521 
 Game 614 
 Game 7
 Game 8
 Game 917 
 TOTAL71 21 

Against the Cowboys, the Eagles went 3-and-out, interception, and 5-and-out in their first quarter possessions. That's simply been too common a theme, and the Eagles don't seem to have any answers for it.

2) The 'Late Collapse' Award: Jim Schwartz and the Eagles' defense

For the third time this season, the Eagles' defense looked completely helpless in the fourth quarter. Against the Titans, they gave up eleventy billion fourth down conversions on their way to an overtime loss. Against the Panthers, they had a nuclear meltdown, when they blew a 17-point lead, giving up 21 fourth quarter points. And then Sunday night against the Cowboys, when the Eagles' offense was finally starting to click, Dallas matched a pair of Eagles touchdowns to help put them away.

Jim Schwartz has simply been over-matched far too often this season in the second half of games.

3) The 'Knock That Picket Fence Crap Off Already' Award: Jim Schwartz

When the Eagles get into third-and-long situations, they consistently and predictably run that picket fence defense in which they essentially line up across the field at the first down marker. Opposing offenses know it's coming and they have had answers for it. 

Recently, the approach has been to simply dump it down to a player with some YAC skills get a few guys out in front of him to block, and try to run through one of the Eagles' poor tacklers in the secondary. And it's working. At what point do you realize that everyone knows that defense is coming and switch it up a bit?

4) The 'M*A*S*H Unit' Award: The Eagles' secondary

Speaking of the secondary, in fairness, it has been decimated by injuries. Here's who the starters were at the beginning of the season in their most common package (the nickel), compared with what the Eagles were forced to roll with Sunday night in the second half of the game:

Eagles secondary Week 1 Week 9 
 CB1Jalen Mills Rasul Douglas 
 CB2Ronald Darby Chandon Sullivan 
 Slot CBSidney Jones Avonte Maddox 
 FSRodney McLeod Corey Graham 
 SSMalcolm Jenkins Malcolm Jenkins 

So, alright, it's perhaps understandable that the defense would be vulnerable on the back end, but that doesn't explain the next award...

5) The 'Hot Knife Through Butter' Award: Ezekiel Elliott vs. the Eagles' front seven

For a team that prides itself on stopping the run, the Eagles got bulldozed by Ezekiel Elliott. He went off for 151 rushing yards (7.9 YPC) and a TD on 19 carries. In the passing game, he had 6 catches for 36 yards and a TD.

There were big holes, and even bigger cutback lanes against a team that was missing two (and sometimes all three) interior OL starters. Inexcusable.

6) The 'Throw Up' Award: You

That may not have even been the Eagles' most nauseating loss of the season. I'm curious which one so far this season you think was the worst. There are plenty to choose from:

7) The 'Expensive Rental' Award: Golden Tate

I won't get the snap counts until Monday morning, but they're going to show that newly acquired wide receiver Golden Tate didn't play all that much. The Eagles spent a third-round pick on what looks like an eight-game rental who was barely used in the regular offense in his first game with the team. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

8) The 'Gross Home Cookin' Award: Lincoln Financial Field

Not counting the their meaningless game against the Cowboys Week 17 last year, the Eagles had racked up a 13-game winning streak at Lincoln Financial Field dating back to Week 16 of 2016.

They've now lost three straight at home. In Pederson's post-game press conference, Doug Pederson was reminded that one of the team's goals to win all their home game each season.

"There went the goal, didn't it, right," Pederson acknowledged. "We just have to focus on the next game."

Yep. That next game is against the Saints, by the way, who look like the best team in the NFL, with an offense that is likely to light up this Eagles defense. 

9) The (in Jim Mora voice) 'Playoffs?!? Are You Kidding Me?' Award: The Eagles', you know, playoff hopes

Heading into Week 10, gave the Eagles a 60 percent chance of making the playoffs, and a 56 percent chance of winning the division. 

After their loss to Dallas, FiveThirtyEight is now giving the Birds a 26 percent chance to make the playoffs, and a 23 percent chance of winning the division.

That almost seems generous with the way this team is playing.

10) The 'It's a Good Thing This Year Wasn't Last Year' Award: Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz

If this year happened last year, the calls for Pederson's and Schwartz's heads would be deafening. 

So I guess it's a good thing the Eagles won the Super Bowl last year. 

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