If I would’ve told you the night before the Eagles week 2 matchup against the 49ers that the Eagles defense would hold the San Fransisco offense to 17 points, 189 passing yards, and 3.1 yards per carry, what would’ve been your reaction?
A. The Eagles win in a blowout
B. The Eagles win in a close game
C. A or B
Neither option would be correct though, as the Eagles were handed their first loss of the 2021 season in a defensive, 17-11 slugfest. This game proved to be a learning experience for all involved.
1) The Offense has to hold up their end
The Eagles defense did just about all you could hope for in Sunday’s matchup.
Early on they were relentless with pressure on Jimmy Garappolo. They kept a lot of what San Francisco did offensively in front of them and weren’t fooled by all of the window dressing Kyle Shanahan’s offense threw at them.
However, the Eagles offense was stagnant all day, up until the tail end of the 4th quarter.
They leaned on Miles Sanders a ton (sometimes to a fault) and Kenny Gainwell was seen early on as well.
But they couldn’t punch it in when it mattered. If the Eagles got an above average performance from their offensive unit, maaybe the result in this one is different.
2) The Eagles shot themselves in the foot repeatedly
A called back touchdown (due to illegal touching), a blocked field goal, questionable offensive playcalling in the redzone, bad offensive execution, and absolutely abysmal penalties did the Eagles in.
The Niners offense didn’t really come alive all game. Outside of a huge 40-yard chunk play to Deebo Samuel, the Niner offense (as usual) placed an emphasis on the running game and utilized their passing game off that.
It again comes down to execution for the Eagles. Jalen Reagor’s lack of physicality in his routes reared its ugly head. Derek Barnett and K’Von Wallace each chipped in timely penalties which again snatched momentum away from the Eagles grasp.
Barnett’s was the more agregious of the two. 1) The player was already headed out of bounds and the play was blown dead and 2) the Eagles would’ve had the SF offense backed up to a 3rd and 15 with 6 minutes to go in the 4th quarter.
It again comes down to execution and discipline.
3) Jalen Hurts was not good enough and his play caller did him no favors
Jalen Hurts is a 2nd year quarterback who is in his first year as a full time NFL starter. Growing pains are to be expected, however the continuous misses on deep shots and seemingly over reliance on the ground game really hindered the Eagles offense in Sunday’s matchup.
Hurts completed a 91-yard pass for Quez Watkins, but the offensive unit didn’t convert it into points. The offense struggled to move the ball through the air at a consistent pace. The utilization of play action and RPOs were noticeably absent for most of Sunday’s game.
Hurts has to continue to be consistent as a field general and his playcaller has to place him positions to suceed.
4) The Honeymoon phase is over for Nick Sirianni’s Eagles
The overall biggest reason for this loss was the man on the sideline at the controls, Nick Sirianni.
In Sunday’s matchup, Kyle Shanahan and DeMeco Ryans flat out, out coached Nick Sirianni. The boo birds were out in full effect at halftime.
Sirianni has endeared himself to fans and media alike with his interesting choice of shirts, enthusiasm for the game of football, and overall likability. He’s talked a lot about placing players in positions to succed and honing in on his core values: connecting, competition, accountability, intelligence and fundamentals.
The Eagles weren’t able to check off all those boxes after Sunday’s matchup. Sirianni and the staff he’s assembled are keyed in on player strengths and placing players in successful positions.
The time to get this fixed and really get hands-on in terms of the core values and instilling them even more is now, after a loss in a game they should’ve had.
After Sunday’s game, the honeymoon phase is over for Sirianni and co.
The game plan on offense needed to be better. An over reliance on the running game when the team you’re facing is without their top 2 corners and calling a questionable sequence of plays in the redzone that result in no points is a losing recipe.
Ultimately, the Eagles weren’t successful in their home opener. But, make no mistake about it, this game was there for the taking. If there’s any encouraging thing to take away, it’s that they were able to hang with this team and it wasn’t a one sided affair.
There has to be a level accountability after this game in the Eagles lockeroom. Sirianni stated this postgame by saying, the redzone woes were on him. Jalen Hurts stated it by honing in on the opportunities the offense left on the field.
With a rookie head coach and a 2nd year QB, growing pains can be expected and this loss is an example of that. The season is still young and this is just one game. It’s important that the team takes this experience and learns from it and is better because of it.
The Eagles travel to Dallas for Monday night football next Monday.