The Eagles come up just short at home: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly from the Week 9 Loss

The Philadelphia Eagles fought in Sunday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers, but a game winning field goal off the foot of Dustin Hopkins with 5 seconds remaining propelled the Chargers to a 27-24 win.

There was some good, some bad, and 1 glaring ugly takeaway in this one.

The Good

1) Jalen Hurts showed something

The 2nd-year quarterback started out slow. At halftime Hurts had attempted 9 pass with 4 completions for just 54 yards. But in the second half, he stepped up finishing with 162 yards and a touchdown.

The biggest thing Hurts showed in this game was his competitive fire. It was on full display on the Eagles final offensive drive., in which Hurts stood in the pocket and delivered an absolute strike to DeVonta Smith for a 28 yard touchdown.

The only drawback being, Hurts slow start. He absolutely has to start games better. He had a brutal miss on the Eagles first drive on an incompletion to Dallas Goedert along with a red-zone miss in which he backpedaled when there was little to no pressure. Hurts has to start faster.

2) DeVonta Smith finally broke out

DeVonta Smith showed why he was a top 10 pick in the NFL draft. Smith caught 5 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. It was Smith’s 2nd 100-yard receiving game of his rookie year.

Smith was able to make a few catches over the middle and he consistently found holes within the Chargers coverage. The Hurts-Smith connection found it’s chemistry and was on full display throughout Sunday’s game.

It was clearly Smith’s best game as a pro.

3) The linebacker play was a plus

Davion Taylor (8 TOT-6 SOLO) and T.J. Edwards (12 TOT-5 SOLO) led the team in tackles. Taylor specifically played with a decisiveness that hasn’t been seen in an Eagles linebacker in quite some time. Edwards was a stud against the run, getting penetration and getting into the backfield on multiple occasions.

4) The offensive coaching staff found consistency

The Eagles offense built off last week’s game and was consistent with the run. However, in this game, they mixed it in and worked in the passing game off that.

Jordan Howard was a feature all afternoon, as he led the team in carries with 17 for 71 yards and a touchdown.

The overall biggest thing with this game from the offense’s perspective was the balance the unit displayed.

The Bad

1) The Eagles pass rush was none existent

The Eagles defense finished with a donut in the sacks statistic.

There was almost no pressure on Justin Herbert for most of the game. Because of this, Herbert was able to shred the defense and complete 32/38 passes for 356 yards and 2 passing touchdowns.

It marks yet another home game, in which the Eagles usually dominant defensive line failed to show up. Against a struggling offensive line like the Chargers were heading into this game, you would’ve liked to see the defense key in on a weakness and attack (more on this later).

2) Derek Barnett’s costly penalty dilemma rears it’s ugly head again

The Eagles had stopped Austin Eckler on 2nd down. It was a long 3rd & 6 and the Linc was rocking. Justin Herbert stepped to the line, the Eagles wanted to bring pressure. What happened next was a bit of a microcosm of the 2021 Philadelphia Eagles.

“Neutral Zone Infraction, number 96. 5-yard penalty, still 3rd down.”

Only this time, it was an easy 3rd and 1 that the Chargers easily picked up. The drive ended in a touchdown, followed by a two point conversion to tie the game 24-24 in the 4th quarter.

In what has become a routine occurrence, Derek Barnett cost his team meaningful yardage and it led to a score for the opposing offense.

In what is truly a game of inches, the Eagles can’t afford mistakes like these.

3) Jalen Reagor was a virtual non factor

The Eagles 2020 first round pick logged 1 catch for *checks notes* -6 yards.

On what was a jailbreak screen, Reagor hauled in the pass dashed to his right, ran some more, tried to cut back and was tackled 6 yards behind the line.

Reagor is (and was) dealing with a lower body injury, but throughout the season, hasn’t shown what has been needed for the TCU product. There were flashes of his ability in last week’s matchup, but they were nowhere to be seen in Sunday’s game.

The Ugly

There is one glaring negative from this game: the defense led by 1st-year coordinator, Jonathan Gannon.

The Chargers didn’t punt all game.

Justin Herbert completed 32/38 passes for 356 yards. That’s an *check notes* 84% completion percentage. At one point in the game, Herbert completed 11 straight completions.

I completely understand the fact that the personnel isn’t where Gannon wants it to be. However, when it is consistently a pitch and catch style game for opposing offenses, that’s an issue.

In 7 of the Eagles 9 games this season, opposing QBs have completed over 70 percent of their passes.

  • Matt Ryan 21/35 (60%) W
  • Jimmy Garopolo 22/30 (73%) L
  • Dak Prescott 21/26 (81%) L
  • Patrick Mahomes 24/30 (80%) L
  • Sam Darnold 21/37 (56%) W
  • Tom Brady 34/42 (81%) L
  • Derek Carr 31/34 (91%) L J
  • Jared Goff 25/34 (74%) W
  • Justin Herbert 32/38 (84%) L

This simply isn’t good enough. Letting QBs consistently complete 80+% of their passes is a losing formula. Jonathan Gannon blitzes and the lowest rate of any defense in the NFL. His unit failed to attack the weak link of the Chargers offense, that being RT Storm Norton and Justin Herbert made the Eagles defense pay.

The Eagles defensive philosophy is to not allow big plays. Gannon essentially calls his defense on the premise that his unit can’t hold up when he brings pressure on a consistent basis. In doing this, he sets his unit up to be systematically dissected by opposing QBs on a week in-week out basis.

How is a defense supposed to be successful when the opposing QB doesn’t have to guess what he’s looking at or has no fear of what the defense he’s facing gonna do?

When the opposing QB can stand in the pocket without thinking about what he’s looking at or fearing a pass rusher from his blindside or a delayed blitzer or stunt along the defensive line or simply ANYTHING that deviates from the norm, it’s defensive malpractice and the Eagles continue to suffer because of it on a consistent basis.

That is, unless the QB they’re facing is a 36-year-old Matt Ryan, Sam Darnold, or Jared Goff.

The biggest thing the Eagles showed in Sunday’s game was consistency on offense. We saw the gamer that Jalen Hurts is and we saw the commitment to the running game from the coaching staff. Nick Sirianni helped his young QB and the offense was able to move the ball against the Chargers defense.

In what can be seen as a “moral victory” (if that is a real thing) the Eagles showed flashes, but a slow offensive start and passive defense did them in, in the end.

The Eagles travel to Denver to take on the Broncos next Sunday.

Cover Image Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Author: Pierrot Baptiste Jr.

I am the creator of The Philly Blitz and I am committed to delivering innovative and interesting coverage on both the Eagles and Sixers. Contact Information: Twitter - @pierreb3_ Email: pierrotjr3@gmail.com

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