EAGLES PROVE THERE IS JUST SO MUCH A TEAM CAN DO WITH BACKUPS: PEDERSON SAYS HE PLANS ON BEING BACK
The bloom is off the rose for quarterback Jalen Hurts. The rookie out of Oklahoma look completely over-matched in the second half of the Eagles 37-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The loss mercifully eliminated the Birds (4-10-1) from the playoffs and started the process of rebuilding a team that just three years ago stood proudly in the winner's circle holding up the Lombardi Trophy.
"I think my disappointment is just how everything has gone this season,” head coach Doug Pederson said after the game. “It's not what we expected. Tonight, it was obvious that the mistakes, the penalties, and in the end, just lack of execution all just sort of piled up on us during the game. We just didn't overcome it and that to me has been the disappointment, you know, in myself and obviously the year."
Hurts was 21 of 39 for 342 yards, one touchdown passes and two interceptions. He was sacked three times and fumbled twice, losing one of them.
“I think it's a mentality you have to have,” Hurts said. “An attitude and mentality to go out there and you're dominating everything that you do. We got to, we got to do that consistently and it starts with me, going out there and finish. I touch the ball every play every play and every play I have the opportunity to, to make things right. Even when it's wrong, make it right. I hold myself accountable to doing those things. There is a lot that I'll be able to learn from, we'll be able to learn from as a team...everybody. And we're going to learn from it, no doubt in my mind.”
Hurts called the afternoon “A big-time learning experience. A lot to learn from.”
To be fair, The Eagles are not fielding the offensive line that is listed on the roster, not even close. The Birds lost All Pro right guard Brandon Brooks and last year's first round pick, left tackle Andre Dillard for the season. Those losses came before the season started.
The Eagles lost All Pro right tackle Lane Johnson, who had surgery in August and was never himself. After he was in and out of the lineup all season with ankle issues, Johnson was placed on injured reserve on December 2, 2020.
Starting right guard Jason Peters, who moved to right tackle after Dillard went down, battled injuries all season and was placed in injured reserve December 12.
Johnson's backup, rookie Jack Driscoll was playing well until he placed on injured reserve on November 18, 2020 after suffering a knee injury in Week 14.
Veteran left guard Isaac Seumalo missed half the season due to injuries.
The ragtag group put together for the Dallas game was called offside at least six times during the contest and gave up three sacks.
After catching and 81-yard touchdown pass in the first half veteran receiver DeSean Jackson aggravated his foot injury and was stuck on the sideline.
When asked about what he thought he status was with owner Jeffrey Lurie, Pederson said he believes his job is secure and wants to be part of the recovery.
"In regard to my status, obviously Jeffrey and I have a lot of conversations throughout the season," the fifth-year coach said at his Monday video conference. "Our main focus is on this season right now currently. We still have one game to play. And really my confidence lies in myself, that I know exactly how to get things fixed.
"We've won a lot of games around here," he continued. " (We've) been in the post-season three out of the five years I've been here and a championship and all that. I've seen it, I've done it. That's where my confidence lies. So these conversations that we're talking about will be at the appropriate time."
DEFENSE WAS STUNG BY INJURIES AS WELL
Jim Schwartz's defense entered the game minus defensive ends Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat along with linebacker Duke Riley, all out with injuries.
The Birds were also missing cornerback Avonte Maddox and safety Rodney McLeod. Pro Bowl tackle Fletcher Cox left the game in the first quarter with a stinger.
The Cowboys went after rookie cornerback Michael Jacquet and had lit him up pretty good with seven completions for 182 yards on nine targets as Andy Dalton passed for 377 yards and three touchdowns. His receivers Michael Gallup (6 catches, 121 yards, 2 touchdowns),
CeeDee Lamb (3-65-1 and another rushing), and Amari Cooper (4-121) seemed to catch passes at will all day.
On Monday when Pederson was asked about job security for the second time. He responded with listing the same list you just read.
“You got to look at the injuries, No. 1, and the amount that's piled up on us and the amount of guys on injured reserve,” Pederson said. “That, to me, has been one of the biggest things that has affected our football team.
“And then so many young players, Pederson continued. ”And you look at our team yesterday and there are so many new faces out there, so many young players out there playing. It's been that way the last couple of seasons. That's the part that is the most challenging to deal with when you're dealing with a roster that way that gets hit with the amount of injuries.
“You look at the offensive line. Let's just start there. You lose Brandon Brooks in the off-season; Andre Dillard goes down; then Lane and J.P. and your entire O-line. Isaac is out for eight weeks. Where are you going to find continuity? How are you going to get continuity there?”
Pederson went on to say...how can you coach when so many of your best players are not available?
He asked how can you say his team keeps regressing when the injuries are so prevalent?
“So that, to me, has been I think the last couple seasons and really last year we had a chance to win that Seahawks game, that playoff game, and Carson (Wentz) goes down in the first quarter and who knows what's going to happen after that,” he said. “You can't sit here and just say, ‘Hey, it's been such a demise.’ This has been a strange year all around. So I look at things a little bit differently.”
Pederson was then asked why the Eagles are one of the most injured teams in the league over the last three years.
“Football is a rough sport, man,” he replied.
And no one is going to feel sorry for you. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii