Hell and Heaven

Posted: October 10th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Carolina led the Eagles 15-3 late in the first half. Nick Sirianni and his band of performers were putting on a show titled “Offensive Ineptitude”. The score felt like it might as well have been 115-3, but the NFL is a funny league. When you have the best players in the world, sometimes a half of ineptitude can change in a heartbeat.

The Eagles got the ball with 31 seconds left in the first half. Jalen Hurts hit Jalen Reagor and DeVonta Smith to move the team up near midfield. The Eagles used a short completion and a Panthers penalty to get into field goal range. Jake Elliot hit a 58-yard FG as time expired.

That changed the score from 15-3 to 15-6. Hardly significant. But it gave the Eagles something to feel good about.

And hope.

Carolina has struggled all year in the second half. That didn’t change, with the Eagles outscoring them 15-3 in the final 30 minutes to win the game. This was the very definition of an ugly win. Think Nate Herbig with bitter beer face.

There is a lot to correct. There is a lot that needs to be addressed. Don’t let those issues make you ignore what did go right. The Eagles competed for 60 minutes. They battled.

More than anything, the Eagles were clutch. They made plays at critical moments. Some on offense. Some on defense. Even some on special teams. This was a total team win.

The play that really stood out was the blocked punt by TJ Edwards. That came with 4:00 left in the game and the Eagles trailing 18-13. It set the offense up at the Panthers 27-yard line and all of a sudden made you feel that the Eagles could pull this off. They just might win this game.

Hurts hit Dallas Goedert for a gain of 20 and the offense was knocking on the door. Hurts ran for the TD to put the Eagles on top. He then made an amazing play on the conversion, dealing with a bad snap and a free rusher. Hurts didn’t panic and got the ball to Smith for the two points. The Eagles then led 21-18.

CB Steve Nelson made the biggest play of his Eagles career by picking off Sam Darnold on the ensuing drive. That all but put the game away. Darius Slay had a pair of picks earlier in the game and Avonte Maddox broke up a long pass at the last minute. The corners made huge plays all game long.

The Eagles D-line had 3 sacks and were credited with 8 hits on QB Sam Darnold. That pressure affected him and he really struggled.

Fletcher Cox got his first sack of the season. He also drew at least one holding call. Cox was more disruptive than previous weeks. Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat also added sacks.

Jonathan Gannon finally got creative on defense. He blitzed more. He changed personnel. It felt like he mixed his coverages up. He did have Slay following DJ Moore all over the field. The creativity seemed to help the defense. Or maybe that was just a combination of a mediocre OL and Darnold. We’ll see on Thursday when the Eagles host Tom Brady and the Bucs.

The Eagles still have a lot of things to clean up. Penalties were down, but still an issue. The Eagles lost a TD to a terrible OPI penalty by Greg Ward. Ugh. You cannot have a role player make a mistake like that. Alex Singleton had a dumbe unneccessary roughness penalty that gave a struggling offense 15 free yards. That stuff still needs to be fixed.

Miles Sanders ran out of bounds late in the game. Twice. I have been watching football since George Washington defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Valley Forge and I have never seen a RB do that twice.

Twice.

Once is mind-boggling. I have no words for twice. Thankfully it didn’t cost the Eagles, but that is a prime example of a mediocre team doing dumb things. You just can’t have that.

The defense had another coverage breakdown. You’ll never guess where it happened…in the Red Zone. Easy TD for Carolina.

Jason Kelce had a bad snap that went for a safety. The Eagles got lucky on that. Hurts tried to pick it up with one hand and easily could have been a TD for them. Get that ball out the back of the end zone.

The play-calling was a huge issue in the first half. The Eagles went pass heavy. I can live with that when it is working. It wasn’t. And they threw a ton of screens. They weren’t working. At halftime, Hurts was 15-24-74. And he had to get hot to get to those numbers. Seriously. There was a point where he averaged 2 yards per pass attempt. That is nuts.

Sirianni believes in throwing to get the lead and then running the ball. I get that. But when the passing game isn’t working and the opposing run defense struggled mightily a week ago, consider running the rock.

Sirianni did a good job in the fourth quarter. He mixed in QB runs and got the offense into a bit of a rhythm. He used some option plays on the final drive. They worked well and the Eagles were able to run out the clock.

Head coach Sirianni needs to have a long talk with play-caller Sirianni about not being so stubborn and helping his players out. The Eagles had 88 yards at halftime and more than a third of them came on the final drive. That was some ugly football.

Give the defense a ton of credit for bouncing back after two long weeks. They got a ton of criticism (deservedly so). With the offenses struggles today, it would have been easy for the defense to break or have some kind of letdown. Instead, they did everything they could to keep the game close. When the offense did finally come alive, the Eagles were able to pull out the win.

Hurts showed he could lead a comeback. The defense showed it could make some big plays. STs did their part. This was a team win and should give the Eagles some confidence.

At least until Thursday night.

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