EAGLES DEFENSIVE EFFORT WASN'T ENOUGH TO PULL OUT WIN AGAINST NEW ENGLAND
New England Patriots center Ted Karras trotted down the concourse from the field and into the team locker room with a smile on his face after his team eked out a 17-10 win over the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
But then again Karras always has a smile on his face. The fourth-year offensive lineman is starting this year in place of David Andrews who is dealing with issues related to a blood clot in his lung.
Karras, the great nephew of NFL legend Alex Karras, admitted the Pats offense did not hold up its end of the deal.
He also talked about battling Eagles Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
“Today you have to give a lot of credit to our defense,” Karras said at his locker after the game. “We scored enough to win I think we left some drives out there. They're a really good team with a lot of really good players. Tough match ups, tough sledding. I had a few plays today - Fletcher Cox is a really good player – that I probably want to take back. But we did enough to win. I want to watch the film and get better from it. In the NFL, there's always things you want to do better, especially against a guy like him. It was great to test my metal against him. I'm just glad to get out of here with a 'W'.”
There a lot of players on the Patriots offensive side of the ball giving similar interviews. But the Eagles (5-5) will continue to struggle if they can't get consistent play from all three phases of the game.
It may be time for Eagles fans to face the music. The 2019 version of the Birds is just not good enough. This group can’t shake the injury bug and offensively, these Eagles can’t maintain any kind offensive threat consistently against good teams.
Franchise quarterback Carson Wentz has not come through to win big games, at least night right now. On Sunday evening, New England Patriots 42-year old quarterback Tom Brady looked awful, but found a way to win.
Wentz, was just as bad, but didn’t get the job done.
“The guys are disappointed,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said after the game. “They are frustrated. They understand we are a better football team then what we played tonight. As coaches, we have to coach better. We understand that. We have to play better. We didn’t make enough plays. I thought the defense really kept us in this football game for the most part. Then, offensively, we failed to execute. That’s something that the guys really pride themselves on, we all do. Just not enough plays there.”
Pederson was asked to talk about Wentz's performance. The fourth-year signal caller was 20 of 40 for 214 yards, one touchdown pass and no interceptions. He was sacked five times, hit 12 times.
Wentz turned the ball over on a fumble late in the second quarter giving New England the ball at the Eagles 26-yard line. The Birds defense stopped the Pats cold, only giving up a 39-yard Nick Folk field goal.
The coach had his quarterback's back, despite the poor numbers.
“I thought overall, he really was into the game plan, into the game,” Pederson said. “He made some really good decisions. I think where it kind of was hard for the offense was really on first and second down. The success we've had leading up to this game was we were positive on first and second down. We were in too many second and long and third and longs today, and that's hard. It's hard for your quarterback, and to put your quarterback in that position, because you know you're going to have to throw the ball and routes are a little bit deeper and things like that. I thought overall, for the most part he played pretty well. Obviously, we will watch it tomorrow and make a better assessment of that."
Wentz was asked about the offense missing so many opportunities. Did he feel his unit left a lot of plays out there today?
“For sure. We definitely did,” Wentz said. “The turnover I had, we can’t be doing that. I have to be better than that. We left some plays out there, missed some throws, a couple penalties. That’s football sometimes, but against a good team like that, we have to clean that up.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Wentz led the Eagles on a 12-play drive that started on their own six-yard line and ended on the Patriots 26-yard line with dropped pass by Nelson Agholor in the back if the end zone with 1:05 left. A score would have tied the game.
Replays showed Agholor got both hands on the ball. After saying he was frustrated because because of “the way we were able to move the ball to get down there and we kind of were just stagnant there at the end.”
Wentz then claimed he didn't see the ball go through Agholor's hands.
“To Agholor? I didn’t get to really see it. They brought cover-zero. I tried to give him a chance and we just missed it.”
That is not the answer fans want to see from an elite quarterback. Holding New England (9-1) just 17 points over three quarters is all anyone can ask of a defense.
But the Eagles offense had little spark after jumping out to a 10-lead early in the second quarter. Tom Brady was 26 of 47 for 216 yards, no touchdown passes, no interceptions, he was sacked once, hit six times. The six-time Super Bowl champion finished with a quarterback rating of 67.3.
As a team the Birds rushed 21 times for 81 yards. The Patriots rushed 22 times for 74 yards.
“Jim (Schwartz), he called a good game tonight,” Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said at his locker, referring to the Eagles defensive coordinator. “I think we had a good game plan We executed to the best of our abilities and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
The Eagles defense did give Wentz and the offense a chance to win. Yes, the Eagles best receiver, Alshon Jeffery was out with an injury. As was the Birds best running back, Jordan Howard.
And yes the Eagles best offensive lineman was knocked out of game in the second quarter. The Eagles offense fell apart right after that. Franchise quarterbacks find a way to overcome those kinds of obstacles and win. Wentz was given that chance by an outstanding performance by the Eagles defense.
He simply came up short. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii