TURNOVERS AGAIN ARE THE STORY IN THE EAGLES LOSS TO THE RAMS
There is no spinning this Eagles team after two games.
The 2020 Birds are not a good football team right now and there is no easy fix.
The turnovers have continued. The Eagles have six givaways on the season.
The defense displayed again very little spirit during the Birds 37-19 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams at an empty Lincoln Financial Field.
The Birds offense has not scored more than 20 points in its first two games.Quarterback Carson Wentz has never thrown four interceptions in the first two games of the season during his career...until now.
Wentz was 26 for 43 for 242 yards, no touchdown passes, two interceptions, no pass completions longer than 25 yards and a quarterback rating of 56. 5.
The fifth-year signal-caller had brought the Eagles back from a 21-3 deficit to make the score 21-16 at the half. After the Eagles defense forced the Rams to punt on their first possession of the third quarter, Wentz led the Birds on a 12-play drive that had his team set up to take the lead.
But like he did the week before in Washington, Wentz, on a first and ten at the Rams 21-yard-line, threw a momentum-killing interception to Darious Williams in the end zone.
The pass was intended for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
“On the interception, they made a great play,” Wentz said. “I got out on the naked there to the left and they had us covered pretty well. I got pretty aggressive and tried to force one in there. Williams made a great play. I have to be smarter in that situation. Overall, offensively, we know we’re right there. At the end of the day, we had two interceptions and the fumble. Turning the ball over is really killing us the last two weeks. Those are the things we know we can clean up. But other than that, we truly feel that we’re right there. We’re just missing some things, timing of some things. We’re not panicking. We know what we have to clean up, and we will.”
The Eagles turned the ball over on their first drive when second-year running back Miles Sanders fumbled on the third play of the drive.Rams linebacker Kenny Young recovered the ball setting up Jared Goff and the Los Angeles offense qt the Eagles 41-yard line.
Five plays later Goff hit tight end Tyler Higbee for the first of three touchdown passes to make it 7-0.
Robert Woods scored on a five-yard run and Higbee caught a three-yard touchdown pass with 12:15 left in the first half to make the score 21-3, a lead the Rams never relinquished.
With 3:16 left in the fourth quarter, Wentz threw another interception, but the game was already decided.
The quarterback was asked why the Eagles are committing so many turnovers early in the season.
“Everyone is kind of case-by-case,” Wentz said. “Last week it was something. Today, like I just said, I tried to force one in there and make a play when I probably didn’t need to. The fumble that Miles had, that happens. The timing of our mistakes is really killing us right now. But we know once we get those things cleaned up, we have the potential with the pieces we have on offense to be great – to be elite – on offense. We’re excited to get those things fixed and start showing that we are elite.”
Sanders, who finished with 95 yards rushing on 20 carries, a touchdown and three receptions for 36 yards, was asked about his fumble in the first quarter.
“I honestly don’t remember,” Sanders said. “I just know my ball was low and I think someone got a hand on it and it just slipped out. Like I said, I didn’t have a whole camp. I’m not making excuses either, but I didn’t have a whole camp to get the hits. I didn’t have those scrimmages or anything like that. So like I said, this was my first full week of practice.”
One bright spot on offense was the play of the offensive line. Against Washington in the season opener, the Birds gave up eight sacks and 14 quarterback hits.The unit kept All Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald from having any impact on the game. Donald finished with one assist one a tackle and just one quarterback hurry. Wentz was not sacked and the Rams only registered three quarterback hurries.
The Eagles rushed for 121 yards as a team on 26 carries, good for a healthy 4.7 yards per carry.
Sanders talked about the line that benefited from the return of All Pro Lane Johnson at right tackle and the play of guard Matt Pryor, who replaced Isaac Seumalo, who left the game early in the second quarter with an ankle injury.
Second-year guard Nate Herbig was solid as was left tackle Jason Peters.
Sanders talked about the play of the offensive line.
“The line did a hell of a job,” the former Penn State standout said. “They’ve been blocking their ass off all week and today. They did a good job of containing Donald. They’re a two gap offense, so I was just using the double teams. And then having the linebackers really choose – there were so many gaps, the linebackers didn’t know which hole to choose, so that’s why the running game was so successful. I trust those guys with my life. So as long as they’re going and I’m right behind them, I’m trying to make them look good.”
As was the case in week one, When the offense commits turnovers, it seems to impact the urgency of the defense. The lone turnover the Eagles have this season happened on Special Teams against the Rams. With just 1:01 left in the half and the Eagles trailing 21-9, Birds punter Cameron Johnston crushed a punt 59 yards to the Rams 12-yard-line where the normally sure-handed Cooper Kupp fumbled, recovered by K'Von Wallace. The turnover gave the Eagles a first-and-ten at the Rams 11-yard line.
The Eagles scored a touchdown two plays later. But the Eagles defense has no turnovers after eight quarters.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's unit gave up 191 yards rushing to the Rams. Goff was 20 of 27 for 267 yards and three touchdown passes. He was sacked once and finished with a quarterback rating of 142.1.
That's not defense, it's the Philadelphia Welcome Wagon giving away gifts.
The Rams recorded seven different players who carried the ball and six different receivers who caught passes.
Goff was asked about the number of players used in the passing and run game and the number of offensive weapons he has to work with.
“It’s great. I mean it really is,” said Goff, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, one ahead of Wentz. “It all feeds off the run game like I said. We have guys that can catch the ball in the backfield. We have guys, obviously both our tight ends, can catch really well. We’re four-deep at receiver right now. I’m super pumped that all of our running backs can catch out of the backfield. We’re dangerous right now when we’re able to run the ball and it’s fun.”
Veteran linebacker Brandon Graham was asked if he should address the team to talk about the turnover ratio which at this point of the season should be unacceptable.
“What’s cool about this team is that a lot of guys have already been talking to each other about what we saw out there today, what we didn’t like on certain stuff,” said Graham, who recorded the Eagles lone sack. “We are ready to get that thing right. Whatever it is that we see, we try to address it. That’s what I love with this team right now, because through adversity people start to point the finger, but that’s not us.
"A lot of guys owned up to what they did today and we’re moving on because the sky is not falling, like Coach said. And we are down two, we put ourselves in this position, but we can definitely get out. And we didn’t work this hard all offseason to turn our back on each other right now. We just need to stay focused, stay working hard and, you know, we are fighters and we are not going to give up. I love that about us and we need to keep that and I think we will.”
The Cincinnati Bengals are next up. On paper, it looks like an easy win. But with this team, this season, nothing can be taken for granted. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii