LATE TURNOVERS, FIELD GOAL DOOM EAGLES IN DETROIT
DETROIT >> The Eagles kept telling themselves they were a good team almost all the way to the bus after their 2423 loss here Sunday to the Detroit Lions.
Head coach Doug Pederson said that coming back from a 14-point deficit makes them “a great team, in that respect.”
When you have to tell yourself that you’re a good team, or even a great team in some respect, you’re not.
That isn’t a criticism of Coach Doug, who had to find something positive to say after the Eagles blew an opportunity to go 4-0, which, in recent years has become the gold standard for playoff teams. Only two of the last 16 teams that won their first four missed the postseason, and two of the 14 with great starts won Super Bowls.
But back to the Eagles, who were assessed 14 penalties for 111 yards. Good team? Uh-uh.
Don’t blame all the penalties on referee Peter Morelli, who seemed so hung up about spewing obscenities over the open microphone, it appeared he was talking to himself like some guy in the subway who isn’t taking the subway, but just wants to crash there.
The reality is the Eagles are a decent team with a great quarterback. They would have had no chance
of getting back in the game had it not been for Wentz, the NFL rookie of the month for September, who was all but immune to the pressure of rallying his team.
Wentz alone kept the Eagles in the game with throws, runs and thirddown conversions despite unnerving mistakes by teammates. It was a minor miracle he guided the Eagles to a field goal, cutting the deficit to 21-10 at intermission as the Eagles were flagged three times for 45 penalty yards on the excursion.
Wentz’s teammates just aren’t as good as he is.
Take wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who has improved
dramatically from last season.
Down by one point, Wentz had no business throwing that deep ball late in the game to Agholor, who was covered by Darius Slay. None.
Agholor was NFL-open. Safety Rafael Bush was late getting over, leaving Agholor and Slay almost stride for stride. Agholor was simply overmatched.
Slay nudged Agholor and reached over the Eagle with a leaping graband-snatch interception with 1:17 left that prevented the Eagles from moving the ball down the field and kicking what would have been the winning field goal. Wentz shouldn’t have thrown it to Agholor, who’s still not a deep threat who can go get the ball against seasoned veterans. He’s just
“It wasn’t a perfect throw,” Wentz said. “Obviously I tried to give Nelson a chance to make a play. I left it too far outside and the cornerback, he made a great play.
“My hat’s off to (Slay), he made a great play.”
Wentz should have dinked-and-dunked his way down the field in much the same way he rallied the Eagles from those 14-point deficits to a 23-21 advantage with 6:40 left in the game.
The Eagles have skill players who get yards after the catch when they’re in space, not guys with elite speed who create space down the field. Wentz seemed to realize that with his comments about the interception, and it should serve him and the Eagles well, as
he’s a quick study.
Agholor made some interesting comments after the game. When you watch replays of the Slay interception you wonder why Agholor didn’t try to break the pass up. Agholor thought he could catch it.
“I should have located it better,” Agholor said. “Where it was positioned I was trying my best to locate it and it put me in a poor position where … I couldn’t come down with it. I need to locate it.”
Wentz and Agholor don’t deserve all the blame for this loss. No, give a lot of that responsibility to Jim Schwartz. We’re going to have to watch the entire game to try to understand what in the world the defensive coordinator was trying to do with his linebacker rotation.
For whatever reason Schwartz limited the snaps of his best linebacker, Nigel Bradham, who you may recall left a loaded handgun in his backpack a week ago when he rolled through security at Miami International Airport. Bradham has a license to carry a concealed weapon, but was charged with a misdemeanor because he was out on bail for an assault, a disagreement with a cabana worker resulting in the hotel guy reportedly getting a punch in the nose.
Schwartz intimated Bradham was a dumb something or other because he keeps doing dumb something or other things. If Schwartz was trying to teach Bradham a lesson — and Pederson said that was not the case
and the Birds were trying a rotation with Stephen Tulloch and Mychal Kendricks in tandem — it was not a good move.
While Bradham and Jordan Hicks were out of the early portion of the game in nickel situations, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford picked them apart, throwing three touchdown passes in the first half.
The Eagles are 3-1 with a big road game ahead next week in Washington.
What they have to realize is they’re a decent team that needs to get better, not a good team or even a great team in some respects, with the exception of their quarterback.
Referees signal possession for Detroit as the Eagles and Lions fight for the ball after a critical Ryan Mathews fumble.