Easy Work – Ten Takeaways from Eagles 31, Jets 6


Originally posted on www.crossingbroad.com

 

 

Remember the 2017 season, that block of games in the middle of the year where the Birds were just obliterating teams left and right?

They rolled over C.J. Beathard’s 49ers. They smushed Brock Osweiler’s Broncos. They slapped around a pre-Matt Nagy Bears team quarterbacked by rookie Mitch Trubisky. Haters were openly wondering back then if the Eagles “had beaten anybody yet,” since they were cruising through a non-gauntlet of QBs who were borderline NFL players at best.

That’s what Sunday’s 31-6 win reminded me of. It felt like one of the myriad games where the Eagles were able to score first, make the opponent one-dimensional, and then tee off on the opposing quarterback. Honest to God, all three of those players I mentioned above looked like the second coming of Joe Montana compared to Luke Falk, who got clobbered so badly yesterday that I began to feel bad for him. Poor guy was constantly under pressure and and didn’t do himself any favors on the rare occasion that he actually had time to throw.

Good thing Sam Darnold saved his spleen from the Eagles’ defense, because it would have been lacerated and/or simply exploded if he took the amount of punishment Falk did. Truly, it was abysmal showing from the New York Football Jets, who may very well possess the most pitiful offense on God’s green Earth.

1. Not a great offensive performance for the Eagles either

Can you be disappointed in a 31-6 win? Sure, and Doug Pederson echoed post game a lot of the same frustrations you probably had with the offense, answering ‘no’ when asked if his team played well. He then offered this response when queried about the biggest issues the Eagles faced:

Well, one, the penalties. You saw on offense how sort of average we played. We would take, for instance, a first down run for eight or nine (yards) and we’d have a holding (penalty), or a pass and either give up a sack or a holding. The penalties just put us in too many long situations today, second and long, third and long. I haven’t looked at the stat book yet, but I bet you many of those were second-and-long and third-and-long plays that it’s hard to overcome in this league. And that’s a good defense, now, don’t get me wrong, that’s a good defense. That’s a good front. But no, we offensively didn’t play good enough to — we have to look at it and make corrections.

Carson Wentz said something similar when asked the same question:

First of all, they do a good job on defense. They played their Cover-2, their different looks. They bring some pressures, you know, make it tough on you as an offense. But you know we had some penalties, we had just some miscues, miscommunication, and some things we have to get ironed out. You know, some of the bigger things like stay ahead of the chains. We were in too many second and really longs. Those are tough to convert so like I said, offensively, we just have to be better.”

The Eagles faced 3rd and 13 and 3rd and 16 on consecutive drives yesterday, then another 3rd and 13 and a 3rd and 18 on the sequence with the sloppy lateral pass and false start. There were indeed a lot of poor situations they put themselves in.

It felt like they got a little lackadaisical after going up 14-0, like they had this game wrapped up and and just wanted to simulate the rest of it. Maybe you’d like to see them go into the three-game road trip with a little more offensive momentum, or at least treat an otherwise crappy opponent like a decent one.

2. Carson Wentz, game manager?

We talked about this a bit on the last podcast.

Look at Carson’s last two games:

  • Green Bay – 16/27, 160 yards, three touchdowns, zero picks, zero sacks, 113.2 QB rating
  • NY Jets – 17/29, 189 yards, one touchdown, zero picks, one sack, 89.6 QB rating

Only in nine of his 43 prior games had Wentz thrown for less than 200 yards, which equates to 21%. So it’s odd to see him come out and toss for those yardage and attempt amounts, especially considering what he did in the first three games while only have DeSean Jackson available in week one:

That’s three straight games with less than 30 pass attempts after throwing 36, 43, and 39 times. It’s interesting situationally, because obviously while the Eagles were playing with a significant lead in this game, they weren’t getting blown out by Detroit or Green Bay, never losing by enough to warrant abandoning the run to start chucking instead.

So I don’t know what’s changed here. Maybe Doug is just trusting Jordan Howard and the run game more in general, which eases the burden on Wentz to throw the Eagles to victory. That’s why his statistical lines look like low-volume, ball-protecting Alex Smith type of lines.

Worth nothing, he did barely miss on a couple of deep passes in which Nelson Agholor was the target, both of which involved opponent contact but resulted in just one flag. I have no doubts that if DeSean Jackson was healthy that Wentz’s yardage would be in the 200-225 range on a similar amount of attempts.

Here’s his chart from today:

Similar to last week, he just wasn’t pushing much down the field. With Jeffery, Agholor, and a healthy dose of 12 personnel, most of Carson’s throws are going to be short and simple seam and mesh kind of throws.

I’m just kind of interested to see if the “game manager” thing pops up on social media and sports radio this week, or if people focus more on the fact that Doug is simply just being more committed to the ground game. Ironically, the same people who complain about Doug not running the ball enough will probably turn around and then complain that Wentz isn’t doing enough in the downfield passing game.

3. Skewed stats

The Eagles were dead last in sacks entering Sunday, having posted just three in the four prior games.

With nine sacks of Luke Falk and one of David Fales, they rocketed up the charts, all the way to 12th. That is insane, the fact that a team could jump 20 spots in one category based on the results of one game.

The Birds were also a flat 0 in turnover margin entering Sunday and tied for 22nd with 5 takeaways. That increased to +2 and 8, respectively, jumping the Eagles to a six-way tie for the fourth most takeaways in the NFL.

4. What is the point of the new pass interference challenge?

The Eagles lost another pass interference challenge Sunday, which came on a bit of a funky technicality.

The short explanation is that you can challenge pass interference, but not illegal contact. So on the first deep attempt to Agholor, he was clearly impeded but the ball was not yet out of Carson Wentz’s hands:

“Carson Wentz still had the football in his hand when the contact was initiated,” said Gene Steratore on the broadcast.

That’s why officials failed to overturn it, even though Agholor was clearly contacted on his way down the field. They should have had it right on the field in the first place, then we wouldn’t have had to split hairs over something like this:

5. Derek Barnett, dirty player?

He can say whatever he wants, but this is two games in a row now where Derek Barnett has taken cheap shots at opposing players.

On the Nate Gerry pick six, Barnett was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play, which actually took place while the return was still happening. At the 15 second mark in this clip, you see him retaliate by going low on an offensive lineman and taking out his legs:

So this actually happened before the touchdown, meaning that it shouldn’t have counted, but the head official declared that it happened “after the play.” Technically, the Eagles should have kept possession of the ball but the score should have been negated, so they actually got a break there on another dumb Derek Barnett penalty.

6. Mistakes and breaks

A much shorter entry this week:

Mistakes:

  • bad Jason Kelce snap over Wentz’s head on 1st and goal during first drive (really smart play by Wentz to throw an incomplete pass there and regain the lost yardage)
  • Barnett’s unnecessary roughness on the Gerry pick 6 gave NY good field position on their third possession
  • Darren Sproles dropped pass on a 3rd and 5
  • chop block negating a 1st down
  • a couple more dropped passes
  • Corey Clement muffed punt

Breaks:

  • the Barnett penalty not bringing back a touchdown
  • missed Jets field goal
  • Demaryius Thomas dropping a wide open downfield pass
  • the New York Jets being an embarrassment in general

Words really cannot describe how bad the Jets were. They had a delay of game on a punt, then burned a timeout before getting set up for a missed 55-yard field goal attempt. They also were whistled for two blindside blocks on the same play, which I’ve never even seen before.

Can’t wait for the Dolphins/Jets game. Should be a barn burner. It’s like the stoppable force vs. the movable object. And the sad thing is that the Patriots again get the easiest divisional path to the playoffs, since 50% of the AFC East just cannot get their shit together while the Bills are always pretenders.

7. Ancillary wins and losses

Let’s take a look:

  • Eagles won time of possession 30:52 to 29:08
  • +2 turnover margin
  • 5-13 on third down (38.5%)
  • 0-2 on fourth down
  • allowed Jets to go 3-14 on third down (21.4%)
  • lost 8 yards on 1 sack
  • 2-3 success rate in the red zone
  • 9 penalties for 76 yards
  • 17 first downs, 9 for New York
  • ran 59 total plays, GB 55

Ironically, the defensive scores actually hurt the Eagles’ TOP number, which was #8 in the NFL entering this game. The pick six and Orlando Scandrick strip and return put the Jets’ offense right back on the field.

This was actually the worst third down game the Eagles offense posted this year. Coming in at 56%, they converted  at just 38.5% on Sunday because of the down and distance issues. The penalties were also too high for a second straight week, which ended up not mattering because the Jets stink.

8. Doug’s best call?

Running the ball early worked very well. Doug Pederson used seven runs on the opening touchdown drive, then got a little wonky with his play calling the second quarter before putting together a more focused third.

Overall, he finished with almost a flat 50/50 run/pass split and nicely balanced game for the second straight week.

9. Doug’s worst call?

Didn’t really like the decision to go for it on 4th and 5 on the third drive. I know you don’t gain much by punting there, but the Jets are so bad that you could take your 25 yards and pin them back further, then flip the field. I’m sure Pederson felt like the Eagles could go up 17-0 or 21-0 there and essentially put the game out of reach.

Also wasn’t a big fan of the 2nd and 18 bubble screen for Alshon Jeffery. They actually had numbers on this play but the pass was low and Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor both blocked the same guy. Apologies because there’s a hitch in the NFL video and I couldn’t get a clean video clip, so here’s a still frame instead:

I get what Doug was trying to do there in the second quarter, which was adjust to some of the cover 2 and single-high toggling that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes to show. In this case you try to go horizontal with the quick hit and stretch New York out laterally, get those blockers out in front and use your numerical advantage in space. I guess I don’t really understand why they throw these quick hits to Alshon Jeffery, since he’s a possession receiver and not much of a YAC guy. If anything, it feels like Agholor makes more sense as a bubble receiver coming out of trips formation.

Oh yeah, did you catch the Darren Sproles draw play on 3rd and 30? Not sure what else you can do on that down and distance, but it reminded me of an Andy Reid call.

10. Satisfying broadcasting

I really like Kevin Harlan. Great voice, great delivery, makes the game seem important and interesting, even if it’s not. That’s one of the best qualities in a play-by-play guy, that ability to ‘sell’ and elevate the broadcast without going overboard. He seems to have that sweet spot figured out.

Rich Gannon and Jay Feely were his sidekicks, and they did fine by me. The St. Joe’s prep highlight was a cool twist considering the fact that Gannon is a local guy and graduated from SJP.

RE: Feely – is it odd that a place kicker would land himself a sideline gig? Seems like a really random spot for him considering that he’s done color in the booth before, alongside Beth Mowins and others.

I’ve been writing this column for three years now and I think this is actually the first time I got to the final entry and didn’t have anything Negadelphia to say. It was just a good, solid broadcast.

The New York Jets, however, are a disaster.

Happy Monday, here are some dogs in slow motion:

 

The post Easy Work – Ten Takeaways from Eagles 31, Jets 6 appeared first on Crossing Broad.


Kevin Kinkead

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