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November 29, 2016

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Packers game

Eagles NFL
112916AaronRodgers Matt Rourke/AP

Aaron Rodgers had all day to throw against the Eagles' suddenly anemic pass rush.

Well, that was ugly. Against a Green Bay Packers defense that has allowed 153 points (38.3 per game) over their last four games, the Philadelphia Eagles managed to score 13. After an extraordinarily promising 3-0 start, the Birds are now 5-6 and will probably have to run the table to qualify for a playoff berth. Which they won't.

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

1) The 'Dumb Penalty' Award: Fletcher Cox

For the third time this season, star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox committed unnecessary roughness on a quarterback on a third down play that would have ended a drive. On all three occasions, the opponent's drive eventually resulted in a touchdown. Fletcher Cox is directly responsible for allowing three touchdowns this season because of bad penalties.

Beyond the inexcusable repeat penalties, with a new $102 million contract, Cox should be expected to have more production than four sacks and one forced fumble.

2) The 'Do Something' Award: The Eagles' defensive line

A week ago against the Seahawks, the Eagles had one sack for zero yards. Against the Packers on Monday night, they did not sack Aaron Rodgers at all.

In fact, in their first six games, the Eagles sacked opposing quarterbacks 20 times. In their last five games, they have just six sacks. Maybe the Eagles' defensive line isn't the strength we thought it was?

3) The 'Mobile Killer' Award: Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers

The three above-mentioned quarterbacks all killed the Eagles with their feet. Prescott, Wilson and Rodgers were all able to rush for first downs against the Eagles, while also escaping the pocket and buying more time to find receivers down the field. The Eagles have not done a good job at all adjusting to mobile quarterbacks this year.

4) The 'Dumb Challenge' Award: Doug Pederson

On a first down play at the Eagles' 39-yard line in the third quarter, the Packers gained two yards on a pass to Jared Cook that should have been ruled an incomplete pass. 

While it was mildly annoying from the Eagles' perspective that the officials got the call wrong, it's not a situation you would typically challenge, especially when the Eagles already used (and lost) their first challenge. Whether the call is reversed or not, you're going to be out of challenges either way, so the reward of two stinking yards was not at all worth using your final challenge of the game.

Still, Pederson challenged it, and while he won the challenge, the Packers drove for a touchdown anyway. While the decision ultimately didn't affect the outcome of the game, it is alarming that Pederson would deem that a reasonable time to use his final challenge.

5) The 'Slow Death' Award: The Eagles' third down defense

The Packers were 10 for 14 on third down. That's just awful.

6) The 'Calm Eyes' Award: Nelson Agholor

When asked why he chose to deactivate Nelson Agholor against the Packers, Pederson said that he wanted Agholor to "see the game with calmer eyes." I don't know what that means, but here's my interpretation:


7) The 'Hall of Fame Delay' Award: Paul Turner

Eagles legend Paul Turner made his long-awaited NFL debut Monday night. He did not play much and was not targeted a single time. So Eagles fans didn't even get to see that.

8) The 'At Least There Was This' Award: Allen Barbre

The highlight of the night for Eagles fans probably came when Allen Barbre lit up Clay Matthews like a Christmas tree on a vicious block. The replay:

9) The 'No Protection' Award: The Eagles' offensive line

About an hour and a half before kickoff, it was learned that Eagles RG Brandon Brooks was hospitalized with an illness and would not play. That meant that the Eagles would be playing with three starters along their offensive line who were not the original Week 1 starters at their normal position:

Position Week 1 Week 12 
 LTJason Peters Jason Peters 
 LGAllen Barbre Stefen Wisniewski 
 CJason Kelce Jason Kelce 
 RGBrandon Brooks Isaac Seumalo 
 RTLane Johnson Allen Barbre 

Wentz was sacked four times for 43 yards, but the pressure he faced all night was far worse than those numbers would indicate.

10) The 'PLAYOFFS?!?!?' Award: The Giants and Redskins

The Giants and Redskins probably don't have to worry much about the Eagles anymore, who are now significantly behind them in the wild-card race.

Let's take an updated look at the wild-card standings in the NFC, where the Eagles are now 11th:

 WildcardRecord Div.Conf. Games back 
5 - Giants8-3 2-1 5-3  -
 6 - Redskins 6-4-1 2-2 4-3  -
 7 - Buccaneers6-5 2-1 5-3  0.5
 8 - Vikings 6-5 1-3 4-5  0.5
 9 - Saints5-6 1-2 4-3  1.5
 10 - Packers5-6 2-1 4-4  1.5
 11 - Eagles 5-6 0-3 3-6  1.5
 12 - Cardinals 4-6-1 2-1-1 3-4-1  2

As noted above, the Eagles would probably have to run the table for any realistic chance of making the playoffs. Also as noted above, that's not going to happen.

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