EAGLES ARE TOUGH, THEY JUST CAN’T STOP BEATING THEMSELVES
Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson was standing at his locker shortly after his team survived a wire-to-wire battle with the Eagles, pulling out a 27-24 win at Lincoln Financial Field.
During his session with reporters he was asked to describe the Eagles in one word.
“Tough,” said Johnson, who struggled all day Sunday coming up with just 36 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. “We had to fight for everything. They never gave up. They had like three turnovers, they kept coming. We had to keep coming, they kept coming again. They kept coming again. We thought we had a field goal, they blocked it. They thought they had it. It was just a bunch of emotional ups and downs. But we came out on top. They battled the whole time. It was a tough game between two good teams.”
It’s great the Eagles are tough. But they still lost…at home. The Birds lost because of self-inflicted wounds. They are 1-2 right now with a game coming up in Green Bay against the 3-0 Packers.
One play on Sunday against the Detroit Lions by Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said it all. So far in the early stages of the 2019 season, the Eagles are their own worst enemy.
It was a play that occurred with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter that pretty much summed up how the whole afternoon went for the Birds in their three-point loss to the Lions.
With just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Lions kicker Matt Prater had a 46-yard field goal attempt lined up.
When the ball was snapped, Jenkins timed the kick perfectly, blocking the attempt cleanly.
The ball was picked up by Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas who raced 18 yards to Detroit's 40-yard line.
The ball would have been spotted just inside the field goal range of Eagles kicker Jake Elliott.
Except for one thing. Jenkins was called for a block in the back.
Jenkins had no explanation on what happened after the game.
“I don't know, I've got to see the tape,” Jenkins said at his locker after the game. “Obviously a lot going on right there.” Jenkins paused for a minute. “I don't know.”
Instead of first and 10 from the 40, the drive, with 1:39 left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles offense had to start a potential game-winning drive at midfield.
Quarterback Carson Wentz threw the ball five times on the crucial drive. He completed one pass to Nelson Agholor for five yards.
Wentz threw balls to Zach Ertz and Mack Hollins that weren't caught. He threw a pass that was caught by Darren Sproles that was negated by offensive pass interference.
Then on fourth and five with 49 second left in the game, Wentz threw a catch-able pass to rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who was muscled off the ball by Lions strong safety Tavon Wilson, at least he thought he was.
Arcega-White could have won the game and made a name for himself. Instead he was at his locker after the game talking about what-ifs.
''It's the moment you ask for and dream about,'' Arcega-Whiteside said. ''I gotta make the play.''
The second round pick out of Stanford talked about the play at his locker after the game.
''There's no other assessment other than, I've got to go get it,'' Whiteside said. ''Tight coverage. I was going to elevate, expected some contact. There really wasn't no contact. The ball ended up right there. I have to make the play.''
Arcega-Whiteside and Hollins are playing because of injuries to DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Dallas Goedert. Some of these mistakes though, are also being made by veterans.
There were no less than seven dropped passes Sunday, plus three fumbles, two lost. One fumble came in the second quarter by rookie running back Miles Sanders that turned into a field goal.
The second fumble came on the very next Eagles possession when Agholor fumbled after a five-yard reception at Detroit's 40. That turnover also resulted in three points for Detroit, giving the visitors a 20-10 lead at the half.
Special teams also chipped in on the forgettable afternoon. Seven of those first-half points came from a 100-yard kickoff return by Jamal Agnew on the Lion's first possession of the game.
The Birds (1-2) will get no rest as they take on the Packers on Thursday Night Football at Lambeau Field (FOX, NFL Network, Amazon Prime - 8:20 PM ET).
If the Eagles make anywhere near the amount of mistakes they committed against Detroit, the Birds will be staring at a 1-3 start that no one saw coming.
Head coach Doug Pederson was asked on Monday, when you have that many drops in a game, are there teaching points, or does he try to make sure guys forget about it?
“Teaching points?” Pederson shot back. “Catch the ball!”
Even with all the drops, Wentz still had better numbers than the week before against Atlanta. He was 19 of 36 for 259 yards and two touchdown passes. Wentz was sacked three times but did not turn the ball over.
It was brought to Pederson's attention that Wentz has been sacked six times, hit 14 times. Where is the letdown? The offensive line? The quarterback?
“I mean it could be a little bit of everything,” Pederson said. “It could be the protection, for the most part has been really good; the backs have done a good job there. It could be that he's trying to make a play so he's hanging on to the ball just an extra tick, receiver's trying to separate at the top of the route. There are a lot of factors that go into that. Scrambles go into that. So, it's not all on one person, we have to look at that as an offense and stay out of third-and-long situations, which we were in I think eight times we were third and seven plus yesterday, so it's hard.”
Pederson was asked if those number were acceptable.
“It's way too high,” he said. “Way too high. You would love to have at least half of that in a football game, if you have three of those, four of those, in a game, you're probably okay. You would love to be in that four, five, six range a little bit more, which means we have to focus better on first and second down.”
Pederson talked about how important it is for his players to be focused and stop shooting themselves in in the foot. He was also asked if these players can draw from the resolve those players showed after ll the injuries hit this team.
“I think you can,” Pederson said. “We can totally relate to our circumstances the last couple of seasons. But the one thing I think that for me as the head coach that stands out in these last couple of games are just the self-inflicting wounds. The turnovers, the penalties, things that have cost us yards or cost us points in obviously these two games.
The coach continued: “So if we just eliminate that, take the injury aside, we have a chance to win both football games. If we just make the plays that are, that kind of come our way, make those plays, then maybe we're talking a different story. So, I can draw a little bit on the injury front from the last couple of seasons, but honestly, that's not what's keeping us from winning these two games.”
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii