- Alex Hand
Eagles vs Lions Recap, Injuries, and Wentz’s Elite-ness
There are few things more humbling than losing the first game back from a bye week, especially if it capped off an undefeated streak to open the season. The Philadelphia Eagles were bound to face their first loss sooner rather than later so at least it comes as only a 1-point difference with overall better statistics than the Detroit Lions, but there were still glaring issues that will need to be addressed if the Birds have any hope of reaching the postseason.
The noteworthy observations made from yesterday included Mychal Kendricks’ mismatch against Theo Riddick, Nolan Carroll’s busted coverage and pass interference calls, Nelson Agholor’s lack of consistent playmaking ability, and Jason Peters showing his age. The Lions beat the Eagles 24-23 and like last year, a good reason came because of Philly’s inability to stop Riddick. The 4-year tailback had 11 rushes for 49 yards and caught 6 passes for 33 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
Similarly to last season, it was Kendricks who failed to prevent Riddick from making the x-play. In the Lions first score, Kendricks lined up opposite to Riddick and was still a yard and a half behind the RB when he caught Matt Stafford’s pass. Ever since the contract extension, the 5’11”, 250 lbs. linebacker has shown that he is too slow to cover running backs in the passing game, too short to stick to tight ends, and not strong enough to penetrate the offensive line consistently.
Kendricks is currently under contract until 2019, so it would be best suspected that the team might attempt to make a move in order to cut their losses with either a draft pick, or a trade in the hopes of getting some depth at tackle, guard, cornerback, or wide receiver. The latter two positions are likely what the Eagles will be searching for come springtime.
Some of the defensive backs had their fair share of headaches as Ron Brooks got beat on a few routes, but it was Carroll who was flagged twice for pass interference and still got beat up by Detroit’s more physical receivers. Carroll was often matched up against the old, but very physical Anquan Boldin, and Brooks simply broke coverage.
Unlike the future with Kendricks, Carroll and the entire Eagles secondary are likely to bounce back next week against the Washington Redskins. However, the Birds are still viewed as strong candidates in taking a corner with their first-round pick in April.
Agholor probably will not receive an extension any time soon, and while Doug Pederson has said that a player’s career is not defined over one play, it is staggering knowing that Nelly does not have the separation speed of a DeSean Jackson-type receiver nor does he have the strength to force himself open against big, physical corners. He can make great one-handers, but at the end of the day, consistency is key and it is something Agholor has simply not shown.
“When the ball goes up its either our ball or nobody’s ball. That’s the mindset, that’s what we coach, that’s what we teach; and then just being able to track the football. Nelson had an opportunity to make a play there from where the ball was thrown, slightly outside [but] it’s a deep throw”, said Pederson in regards to the responsibility of the wideout on the final offensive play for Philadelphia.
Coach Pederson was asked afterward if he was getting what he wanting out of Agholor to which he replied, “Yeah, again, he made a nice couple of contested catches. He’s putting himself in a position to make plays. With play calling and as the game unfolds, I don’t necessarily feature one guy over another. I just think you play the game as it is, you ask your quarterback to progression read and all that, but Nelson has put himself in a position to help us and yesterday he had a couple of nice catches.” Pederson immediately brought up the playmaking of Dorial Green-Beckham before closing with the overall performance of the receiver core, a sign that he might have been running low on positives to talk about.
Josh Huff would have also been on the hot-seat list, but lately he’s been immersing himself into this offense more as halfback and he did catch a touchdown to help keep Philly in the ball game. Huff’s physicality in regards to his wicked stiff-arms and power running is really what separates his level of contention versus Agholor.
Finally, Peters showed a couple glimpses of the Birds’ future at left tackle. The 34-year-old, 8x Pro Bowler was beat inside badly by defensive end Armonty Bryant, who had only been signed by Detroit less than a week prior to the game and had spent the first four weeks suspended due to a violation of using PEDs.
Injuries are as follows:
Bryan Braman has a left shoulder AC sprain and Leodis McKelvin, who left the Lions game early due to the same hamstring, are both expected to be able to go against Washington this coming weekend. Fletcher Cox is nursing a left ankle but is fine. DGB was hit on his left knee resulting in patellar tendonitis, but is doing okay. Lane Johnson has a right elbow hyperextension, which is the most significant injury listed and will be limited Wednesday, but is still expected to be ready by Sunday. Bennie Logan had a spasm on the same left calf muscle, and Zach Ertz, Chris Maragos, Ryan Mathews, and Isaac Seumalo are all good to go.
Despite the game losing interception, Carson Wentz has still left audiences with the notion that he is that Eagles quarterback of the future. The man is insanely accurate, spreads the ball evenly to his receivers, prefers to use his legs to extend plays like many of the league’s elite quarterbacks, and refuses to throw his teammates under the bus while still holding the team accountable.
“Yeah, I mean it wasn’t a perfect throw. I gave Nelson a chance to make a play, I left it too far outside, [and] the cornerback made a great play [so] hats off to him.”
“The biggest thing is that we just shot ourselves in the foot too many times, some of the holding plays, those things happen, but the delays of game and some of those mistake that we can control ourselves we just gotta clean up.”
And in regards to the delay of game penalties, “Just a little miscommunication between [Jason] Kelce, Brandon [Brooks], and myself that we just gotta get ironed out”, said Wentz.
A humbling game, and while still a loss, it was a match that has left a sour taste in the mouths of Eagles players who are looking forward to a competition against division rival Washington. As coach Pederson stated it, “I saw how ticked off this team was at the end of this football game. This is a different football team than a year ago; this is a team that when I walked on the plane last night, when we were halfway home and everybody’s on their iPads watching the game, they’re correcting the mistakes, they’re wanting to get back on to the football field.”