If you were telling a story, the Eagles last two games can be described as something from a Stephen King novel.
Every turn, there’s more horror.
The Birds lost to the San Francisco 49ers 41-19 at home, then to the Dallas Cowboys at Jerry’s World 33-13.
No one expects the Eagles to win every game and a two-game losing streak is not the end of the football world. The problem Eagles fans are rightfully concerned about how the Birds lost. The defense was unable to stop anything over the past two weeks and this offense, shockingly, could not score an offensive touchdown against the Cowboys.
Three good opportunities were thrown away with lost fumbles.
Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson took his questions in stride. He was asked about what he is seeing as far as the ball security issues with the fumbles Sunday against the Cowboys.
“Well, we got to do a great job of protecting the football, particularly with our fundamental of going to the ground,” Johnson said. “You see this happen throughout the league every single week. It's something that we talk about a lot, we drill a lot. It was just really unfortunate that they were able to get the ball out.
“You know, something that we’ve got to continue to work on and harp on, about the details of our ball security and fundamentals.”
Another question to Johnson centered around Head Coach Nick Sirianni and a question he was asked about the slow starts. He mentioned information gathering as being part of the equation that early on. Information gathering. Johnson was asked to expand on that, and is there a tendency sometimes to get carried away with information gathering that maybe gets in the way of attacking or...
"Well, it serves two purposes," Johnson said. "Obviously, you want to go down and score your first drive. I think the last two games we have moved the ball down there and haven't finished, whether we had an opportunity for a first and goal at the six- or five-yard line and got a penalty and then we end up turning the ball over.
"But the previous game I think we drove down there and did not finish in the red zone. Ended up kicking field goals. Yes, you want to gather information. It is a long game. But at the same time, you do want to attack, be aggressive, and you want to try to jump out to a lead.
"So that's something that we haven't been able to do in the past couple games. We have to get it corrected."
Another question was about Jalen Hurts and how much Johnson pays attention to how quickly he's getting the ball out. Does he pay attention to that since Hurts has the ability to extend plays and that's going to affect those numbers...what’s that balance?
"Yeah, there is definitely a balance," Johnson said. "Getting the ball out to our playmakers in space quickly is never a bad thing. Jalen has a rare and unique ability to extend plays and create plays on his own, so, we definitely have to be very cognizant and aware of that, and making sure that we're allowing both to happen."
Johnson was asekd about running back D’Andre Swift who had had 11 touches against Dallas; he previous week he had eight. He was asked how Swift handled the decreased workload and how does he keep him involved in the offense with the limited amount of touches?
Johnson: "Yeah, well, I think you just got to continue to try to get him the ball in different ways, whether that's in the pass game or the jet sweep game or just handing him some direct runs that don't have read elements to them.
"I've always said that these games play out very independently in terms of how the defense is playing and what the read tells you to do with the football. I have full confidence in D'Andre. He is an awesome player and even better person. He works his tail off each and every day and he's had a great year."
"Again, like you always want to evaluate and try to put yourself in the best position," he said. "We have had a ton of success here throughout the course of the two and a half or three years we've been here.
"I think Nick gave a great message at that point in 2021. We were 2-5 and he talked about doubling down on our process and sticking true to what we believe.
"I think that's very, very important and important lesson to take when you're in a process-driven profession but it's really ultimately results-based. When the results don't match your process for two weeks in a row, you still need to evaluate and still need to try to find new and creative ways to do things and put the guys in the best spots to go out there and execute the plan each and every week.
"So, I think to answer your question, just like it is definitely a balance. We know what we have, and we know what guys do really, really well. Guys have done some of that stuff really, really well, and we got to continue to do that and complement it and to put them in the best spots to be successful."
SEAN DESAI KNOWS THE HEAT IS ON AFTER GAMES LIKE THE 49ERS & COWBOYS
Desai was asked if he has tapped in on what's being said about the recent poor performances.
"That's part of the job," DeSai said. "There is always going to be criticism. Go back every week of this season there was criticism based on different things that happened in the game. When you play a couple games the way we have, not the performance or the standard we want to, that's going to magnify and amplify. I get it. That's okay.
"Everybody, fans, you guys, everybody is entitled to their opinions. What we have to do is just lean into each other and really focus on our process and getting better.
"At the end of the day, from what we want to what everybody else wants in this city, is to win, right? And we found ways to win to get us to the point we are. We're not where we want to be. We're still growing to get where we want to be. We feel good about doing that and working together to achieve our goals still.
Desai was asked about what concerns you the most about the way the defense has played the last two games.
"I think it's just we have been inopportune," Desai said. "We have not been able to get off the field when we need to get off the field. Yeah, in third down and situational football we got to be better, third down, red zone. Those have been our bugaboos. Not going to lie to you. That's been our Achilles' heel right now.
"I feel really good about where we're going with it, feel really good about our planning process towards it, and our players' mentality in approaching that situation, being able to put guys in spots to go win those.
"Again, we won a lot of third downs early in the year. We just haven't been able to do that this year. That's hurting us as defense. Increases our play counts. But it hurts us as a team. Our job as a defense is to get the ball back to the offense as fast as we can, and we haven't been able to do that effectively enough.
SIRIANNI SOUNDS FRUSTRATED AND HE SHOULD BE
The Eagles third-year head coach was asked if he could explain his philosophy on a motion offense and the pros and cons he is seeing?
He wasn't short with the questioner, but sounded weary of questions about what isn't working.
"Yeah, I think I feel like I've answered this question about five times in this setting. That's fine," Sirianni said. "I'll continue to. And I get it, there’s going to be scrutiny when we're not playing and coaching well enough because that's the case right now.
"We're not coaching well enough. We’re not playing well enough. But motions, there are many different ways you would motion. Sometimes it's to gather information. Sometimes it's to set up an advantage, whatever it could be.
"There are other ways to gather information besides motion that teams do all the time. That's something that we do. It could be by formation. Just because a guy moves, doesn't necessarily give you the answer. It could be if a guy is removed from the core, it can give you the answer. If a guy is tight to the core, it gives you an answer. This formation can give you an answer.
"We spend an obscene amount of time trying to find answers for the quarterback and for our offense of what the defense is based off different looks. Now, sometimes the answer is to motion, and so there are some games where we motion more than we don't. It's a fair question because we do it less than everybody in the NFL.
?So, I would say that these last two games have not been up to our standard, but for the past two years we have been one of the best offenses in the NFL, and we’ve been in the same place with motion the entire time.
"I 100 percent understand the scrutiny of it and you have to ask that question. I appreciate the question. But that's where our philosophy is on it. I know in three months I might have to answer this question again, and I have no problem with that.
"Without giving too much information, that's my philosophy on it and why you see us a little bit less down there.
But I guess what I'm saying, at the whole scheme of this, is you can get answers without movement."
A win would end much of the scrutiny.
Email Al Thompson at email@example.com