October 21, 2018
For the second time this season, the Philadelphia Eagles absolutely blew a game that they had under control, this time to the Carolina Panthers, who came back from a 17-0 deficit to win 21-17. As always, we hand out 10 awards.
For the second time this season, the Eagles had a greater than 90 percent chance (per ESPN's win probability graphs) of winning a football game, and they absolutely just gave it away.
Against the Tennessee Titans earlier this season, the Eagles allowed three fourth down conversions on the Titans' final drive in regulation, tying the game, before the Eagles eventually lost in overtime.
Against the Panthers, the Eagles the Eagles again allowed a fourth and long (this time a 4th and 10) that extended a drive, eventually resulting in a go-ahead touchdown.
The Eagles' pass rush harassed Cam Newton for three quarters, before fizzling out in the fourth quarter. Newton had time to throw that he didn't have earlier in the game, and the result was three fourth quarter touchdowns on drives in which Panthers receivers had all day to get open.
The Eagles had a couple of glaring missed tackles in this game, notably by the starting cornerbacks. On a reverse play in which the quarterback (albeit a big dude) was lead-blocking for Jarius Wright, Ronald Darby essentially jumped out of the way of Newton, and then missed the tackle on Wright as a result. He failed to take out both the lead blocker and the ball-carrier.
On the Panthers' final drive, Jalen Mills gave up the aforementioned 4th down catch to Torrey Smith. But just as bad, a Mills missed tackle resulted in an additional 20-plus yards after the catch.
Elliott missed a 36-yard field goal, which was his third missed field goal attempt of the season. While there was certainly a stiff wind at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, that was still an ugly kick.
One bright spot for the Eagles in this game (and for the season in general) has been the play of Zach Ertz. On the season, Ertz now has 57 catches for 618 yards, and is on pace for 130 catches.
NFL single-season receptions leaders:
• 143: Marvin Harrison (2002)
• 136: Antonio Brown (2015)
• 136: Julio Jones (2015)
• 129: Antonio Brown (2014)
• 123: Herman Moore (1995)
Alshon Jeffery is having a great season after missing the first three games. He caught 7 passes for 88 yards and a TD, giving him at least 7 receptions in three of the four games he has played.
On Sunday, he made several impressive contested catches. It's kind of amazing that the Eagles have scored 24 points or more only once this season with Ertz and Jeffery playing the way they are.
On the day, Wentz was an extremely impressive 30 of 37 for 310 yards, 2 TDs, and no picks, for a QB rating of 119.6.
Buuuuuut, on the final drive, Wentz was nearly picked off by Eric Reid, and he threw a dangerous ball into double coverage to Alshon Jeffery.
There are a lot of crappy quarterbacks who play badly for three quarters, and then snatch a victory away from sure defeat. Against the Panthers, Wentz was great for three quarters, but couldn't finish.
As of Sunday morning, the Washington Redskins didn't have a single opponent on their schedule the rest of the season with a winning record. As of 6:45 p.m., they are currently leading the Dallas Cowboys by six points, and are threatening to go up by 1.5 games on the Eagles at 4-2.
This coaching performance deserves a closer examination than we can give immediately after the game, but while the players are certainly at fault, the fourth quarter meltdown by Pederson's offensive approach and Schwartz's seive-like defense have the Birds at 3-4.
In his post-game press conference, Pederson remarked that nobody is giving the Eagles a chance. That's nonsense. The Eagles have not been underdogs in a single game this season, and they were a popular pick to go back to the Super Bowl before the season began. The "underdog" approach was masterful last season, but it doesn't apply to reigning NFL Champions. It's going to be hard to get players to buy into that mindset in 2018.
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