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Another ugly loss, an ugly 1-2 record and a short week before a very tough game at Lambeau Field.
The Eagles are in trouble.
Are they good enough to fight their way out of it? We’ll see, but the early signs aren’t real encouraging.
Here are our 10 instant observations from another loss that shouldn’t have been. Lions 27, Eagles 24.
1. I’d love to sit here and say it’s still early, it’s not time to panic, there’s a lot of football to be played. But I’m not sure you lose to the Lions at home and survive that. The Eagles are 1-2 with a game on Thursday night against the Packers in Green Bay, where the Packers have never lost on a Thursday night. After the Jets comes three straight road games — with Tom Brady and the Patriots and Russell Wilson and the Seahawks looming after that. The schedule is brutal, and when you have a team like the Lions at home, you can’t afford to give that one away. But that’s exactly what the Eagles did. Wasted opportunities. Fumbles. Dropped passes. The Lions were the better team, they were the better-coached team, and they deserved to win (see story).
2. These games just keep following the same pattern. Halftime deficit, desperate rally. Three weeks in a row now, the Eagles have trailed at halftime — 10-7 on opening day, 10-6 in Atlanta, 20-10 Sunday. They bounced back easily against the Redskins, rallied to take the lead against the Falcons, only to lose it, and outplayed the Lions in the second half Sunday, only to fall short once again at the end. This is the first time since 1982 the Eagles have trailed at halftime in each of their first three games, and I don’t care how exciting the games get at the end, you can’t win this way. The Eagles did score a TD and FG on their first two drives, but the bottom line is they have yet to play a complete four-quarter game. This is on Doug Pederson. This team hasn’t played 60 minutes yet. And that’s the biggest reason it’s 1-2.
3. I know JJ Arcega-Whiteside is a rookie. I know he’s playing in only his third NFL game. Still. Catch the football. Carson Wentz put it right there. Catch the football (see story). It would have been a great catch, but this team desperately needed someone to be great and it just didn’t happen.
4. My biggest concern with this team before the season was pass pressure, and here we are three games in and the defense has two sacks — one by a tackle and one by a safety. This is the first time since sacks became an official stat in 1982 the Eagles have had just two after three games. Now, there’s more to pressuring a quarterback than getting sacks, but the pressure has been spotty as well. If you can’t pressure the QB, it’s really hard to win.
5. It was encouraging to see Miles Sanders come to life a little bit. He was never much of a receiver at Penn State, but he had receptions of 40 and 33 yards and was more productive as a runner than he has been, finishing 13 for 53 after another sluggish start. But he also fumbled twice, lost one, which led to a Detroit field goal. It was a problem at Penn State and it was a problem Sunday. And it’s a problem he has to solve because I don’t care how much talent a running back has, if you keep giving the other team the football, you’re not going to play (see story).
6. The Eagles weren’t terrible defensively. They gave up 20 points to a pretty high-powered offense and six of the points came on short fields. I thought the young corners, in particular, played really well against some high-powered receivers. But when the defense really had to shut down the Lions, it let ‘em go 75 yards in nine plays over the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. With an offense missing all those guys, the defense had to win this game. It didn’t lose it, but it didn’t win it either (see report card).
7. Two weeks in a row now Nelson Agholor followed a costly play (60-yard TD drop last week, fumble this week) with a big-time play (43-yard catch last week, two TDs this week). I give the kid credit for his mental toughness, being able to stay up and stay ready and make a big play. But, man, he’s the only experienced receiver on the team right now. He’s got to find some consistency in his game.
8. Wentz’s final numbers were pretty good — threw for 259 yards with two TDs and no interceptions. I’m not sure what else he could have done without three of his top five weapons. Those two drives at the end of the game with the Eagles down three were agonizing to watch. He didn’t make any plays, but I just didn’t see any plays out there for him to make, other than the final play to JJAW.
9. Mack Hollins followed his 5 for 50 with a 4 for 62, and for a guy who started the season as the Eagles’ fifth receiver and really not even a lock to make the roster, I’ll take that from him. He’s not a great receiver, but he’s shown up the last two weeks when a lot of people haven’t.
10. Finally … I never complain about the refs. But the non-call on Miles Killebrew’s facemask on Sanders was about as egregious a non-call as you’ll ever see. The NFL talks a lot about player safety and then every ref on the field misses a guy ripping a dude’s helmet off and cackling about it on the sideline? That’s just outrageous and inexcusable. That simply cannot happen.