If someone had told me that the Washington Football Team would score 27 unanswered points to beat the Eagles in Week 1, I would have asked them which anti-psych medication they forgot to take. I genuinely do not think any of us saw it coming. And yet here we are, in complete shock at a blown lead once again. This game felt very reminiscent of the two losses to the Titans and Panthers in the 2018 season. I mean once the momentum shifted, the Eagles just never felt like a true threat to come back and that was very disappointing to see in this new 2020 season.
Now, it is completely understandable to say that the Eagles lost today due to the offensive line being critically depleted all over, or the lack of Miles Sanders (or any running game at all, for that matter). However, I feel the bulk of the “blame” for today’s loss belongs to two men: Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson. While I do understand that the absence of Miles Sanders was a key factor, it should not and cannot be an excuse for a poor offensive performance every week if he gets hurt again. It almost makes me wish we kept Jordan Howard, which would have helped tremendously. As much as I admire Boston Scott and Corey Clement, Jordan Howard would have been a huge backup option for when Sanders was out. Additionally, the offensive line being as hurt as it is cannot be used every week. At some point you have to make adjustments to the injuries. The Eagles have been dealing with the injury bug for far too long so it is reasonable to wonder why they have not learned to adjust a little better by now.
For me, the big glaring reason we lost today was Doug Pederson. Last year, we were told that the offense was boring and unimaginative because we did not possess speed at WR. With the firings of Mike Groh and Carson Walch and the new additions to the coaching staff, we were led to believe that the offense would be much better and much more creative. Today, we saw that the offense was still boring, predictable, and unimaginative even with that speed. I heard one of the announcers say “they may be trying too hard to showcase all that speed today”. Moreover, where was JJAW today? He was essentially a non-factor without even a single target. Is that going to be the case every week just to showcase the new speed on offense? All offseason we heard of JJ’s improvement and how much healthier he felt and looked. We heard his confidence in recent interviews. How is a second-year player supposed to gain confidence if you do not involve him at all in the game? Yes, speed at the wide receiver position is critically important, but so is balance and being unpredictable to the defense. If the only difference between this year and last year is that we now have faster players on the field to lose games we should be winning, then we have to really do some questioning of Doug Pederson, who appears to be part of that unimaginative cluster of coaches we thought we had moved on from. Can this change or is he just going to continue on with this fast but inconsistent and unbalanced offensive approach? I understand that he had his game plan but when the offensive line is as injured as it was (with some in-game injuries piling up) and with how dominant Washington’s defensive line was looking, why force Carson to throw the ball 50 times (42 actual pass attempts and 8 sacks taken). I understand that Sanders was inactive, but having no balance and no running game was not the best approach to the way the game was going. Doug had his game-plan and stuck to it, no matter how much the game showed him that his game plan was wrong and that was very disappointing to see.
Ultimately, the most disappointing aspect of today’s loss was Carson’s performance. While I do know how great he has been, I cannot bring myself to make excuses for his seemingly eternal stubbornness to make every play a huge play. I admire the aggressiveness and desire to control the game, but this is not basketball. One player cannot control the game on his own. Year after year we have watched Carson commit the same mistakes of holding the ball too long, taking bad sacks, refusing to go down and fumbling the ball, and errant throws. Today, his throws were way off almost throughout the entire second half. He had multiple big play opportunities to Jalen Reagor and Desean Jackson and each time, he would just miss them. Trying to be Superman and playing every snap as if it is the only snap to make a play is not something I can look beyond. Is he ever going to learn to let himself live to fight another day? If not for just better performances, for his own safety. He took a very nasty shot to the head (which did not get a replay) early in the game today and I could not help but think, “when is this guy going to learn to throw the ball away and avoid these hits?”. But since we’re talking about throwing the ball away, in the third quarter today, Carson took a sack on 3rd and 7 at the Washington 22 yard line. This sack put the Eagles at 4th and 20 from the Washington 35 yard line and Jake Elliot missed the field which would have given the Eagles a 20-14 lead. While the sack will show up in the stat sheet, the context will not show. He simply has to learn to manage the game better. He cannot continue playing hero ball and costing this team points, not to mention his three turnovers today. He has to play better and smarter, plain and simple.
Ultimately, today’s loss was highly discouraging. While the season is long and things can turn around, this loss feels like it could just be the beginning of the issues if this team does not adjust properly. Injuries are going to happen, unfortunately. We have had to witness it for the last four seasons. We can no longer allow injuries to be the excuse for ugly losses and blown leads. The coaches have to be better, the players on the field have to be better, the game-plan has to be malleable and changeable, and the quarterback has to learn to play smart. If not, we could be in for a very predictable and quick season.