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October 13, 2019

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Vikings game

Eagles NFL
101319DougPederson Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports

"Carson, take a break and come off the field for a minute. I want our kicker to throw for this first down."

First it was a blowout. And then it wasn't. And then it kinda-sorta was again, as the Philadelphia Eagles laid an egg in a bad loss in Minnesota against the Vikings on Sunday. As always, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Shovel' Award: The Eagles' first half of games this season

A common theme for the 2018 season — and now the start of the 2019 season — is that the Eagles are falling behind quickly in games, and making life hard on themselves in trying to mount comebacks. On Sunday, the Eagles fell behind by at least 10 points for the fifth time in six games.

 OpponentLargest deficit Result 
 WAS (Week 1) 17Win 
 ATL (Week 2) 11Loss 
 DET (Week 3) 10Loss 
 GB (Week 4) 10Win 
 MIN (Week 6) 21Loss 

The Eagles rallied for a bit and actually closed the gap to a 4-point deficit, but the early-game ditch-digging remains an enormous problem. 

2) The 'What in the Hell Was That?!?' Award: Doug Pederson's insane fake field goal attempt

For any of you who read me regularly, you know that I am in favor of the Eagles' aggressiveness on fourth down as anyone, and have written about it glowingly numerous times. Like here, for example. Or here. In fact, I am of the mindset that without Doug Pederson's aggressiveness, not just in the Super Bowl itself, but all through the 2017 season, the Eagles' aggressiveness on fourth down played an enormous role in their first Super Bowl win.

Pederson's fake field goal attempt made no sense.

It was 4th and 4 from the Vikings' 21 yard line, the Eagles had no timeouts, and there were 20 seconds left in the half. You would think that any type of fake field goal attempt is essentially touchdown or bust, because if you get tackled in bounds, there's a good chance you're not lining up and spiking the ball in time, especially with your regular offense on the sidelines and the field goal team on the field.

What was Pederson's plan? In interviewing Pederson, Jake Elliott and Dallas Goedert after the game, the plan was to complete the pass to Goedert, and if he couldn't score, he would get out of bounds. They seemed to feel that a touchdown would be icing on the cake, but that the realistic goal was a first down and a stopped clock. 

Assuming the play went as planned, and executed to perfection, you could probably count on 10 seconds or so to come off the clock. From snap to interception, it took 9 seconds. That's without any running after the catch.

So then what? You get to take a shot, maybe 2, into the end zone? And if anyone gets tackled anywhere on the field, that's the end of the half? That's the benefit of running a play in which you're asking a kicker to complete a pass?

Obviously, as you all saw, the play did not go as planned.

Aggressiveness is great. Whatever that was, was the opposite of great.

3) The 'Under the Rainbow' Award: Rasul Douglas

Douglas' may not have been completely at fault, as he probably should have gotten some safety help, but he saw three passes go over his head on plays in which Stefon Diggs jetted by him. Two were touchdowns; one was overthrown.


Even after this game, Douglas has been the Eagles' best corner so far this season, which is alarming.

4) The 'Benched, Or Just Still Always Hurt' Award: Sidney Jones

On a series in which the Vikings entered the red zone, mid-season street free agent acquisition Craig James came in for Jones, and promptly gave a up a TD reception on a great toe-tap catch by Diggs. Jones successfully avoided saying if he was taken out because of his hamstring, or whether he was taken out for that series despite being healthy.

Either way, it's not good. Oh, and Jones gave up a TD too, albeit on a double move in which the Eagles were unable to pressure Kirk Cousins, and Cousins had perfect ball placement.

5) The 'When Do We Play the Eagles' Award: Good NFL receivers

Add Diggs to the list of receivers who have had monster games against the Eagles this season:

 PlayerCatches Yards YPC TD 
 Terry McLaurin125 25.0 
 Julio Jones106 21.2 
 Marvin Jones101 16.8 
 Devante Adams10 180 18.0 
 Stefon Diggs167 23.9 

The Eagles should trade for a corner. #Analysis.

6) The 'Maybe Wait Until After the Game To S*** on the Opposing Quarterback' Award: Zach Brown

On Friday, Brown called Cousins "the weakest part of the offense." Oops. Post-game, the Vikings did not pass on the opportunity to rub some salt in the Eagles' wounds:

Brown had zero interest in talking about his Friday comments after the loss: 

Again, note to Zach: Talk after the game.

7) The 'Team Speed' Award: Anyone but the Eagles

A year ago, the Eagles offense often looked sloooowwwwww. For one week, they had a deep threat in DeSean Jackson, but that was fleeting. Playing without him the last five weeks, it is clear that the Eagles' receivers have difficulty getting open down the field, forcing Carson Wentz to constantly have to throw into tight windows. It feels like the number of easy throws he gets to make are few and far between.

Jackson aside, here are the Eagles' receivers' yards per catch and yards per target numbers:

 Eagles WRsTargets Catches Yards Yards/catch Yards/target 
 Alshon Jeffery 3624 215 9.0 6.0 
 Nelson Agholor 3923 230 10.0 5.9 
Mack Hollins  2010 125 12.5 6.3 
 J.J. Arcega-Whiteside 714 7.0 2.0 
 TOTAL 10259 584 9.9 5.7 

Minus Jackson, the Eagles' wide receivers are averaging 9.9 yards per catch, and 5.7 yards per target. That stinks.

8) The 'More Competitive Game'd' Award: FOX

Nationally, or better stated, in markets other than Minnesota and Philly, FOX apparently cut away from this game to go to Seahawks-Browns. They got "more competitive game'd."

9) The Re-Focus Award: The Eagles' mindset

If there's one thing the Eagles have shown over the past three seasons, it's that they are resilient. Next Sunday, they will play their most important game of this young season so far, when they head to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. They cannot come out flat in that one.

10) The 'At Least Dallas Isn't Good' Award: The Cowboys

As of this writing, the Cowboys are losing 21-9 to the atrocious Jets. I don't care if they come back to win — they just aren't that good. The division is still well within the Eagles' grasp. But again, next Sunday is huge.

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