- Alex Hand
Receiver Core, Again, Prevents Eagles Victory
The Philadelphia Eagles almost walked away with a win against the Dallas Cowboys, but similarly to how Dominic Toretto said to Brian O’Connor after “almost” beating him in the first drag race of the Fast and Furious franchise, the Eagles never had the Cowboys. Dallas beat the Birds 29-23 in overtime, and it became quite clear which team is now favored to win the division.
The Cowboys are really as good as advertised and even thought those are a specific group of words that most Eagles fans do not want to hear, Dallas has the best offensive line in the league, the best running back in the league, one of the most unstoppable wide receivers in the league, and a quarterback who manages it all like a seasoned veteran. And that is really the most frightening part; the fact that it is not the defense that carries this team, but the rookie quarterback and his arsenal of playmakers that do.
Dak Prescott finished Sunday night with a completion percentage of 48.7, tossed 19 passes for 287 yards resulting in two touchdowns and an interception versus Carson Wentz’s 74.4 percentage, 32 passes for 202 yards, and lone touchdown. Clearly, the run game in Dallas is far superior to Philadelphia’s, but surprisingly most of the Eagles run plays featured Darren Sproles (86 yards) instead of the usual bell cow Ryan Mathews (10 yards).
So if Prescott had a statistically poor game, and Wentz’s numbers showed an okay outing, where did it all fall apart? The answers lie in the receiving game. Ever since Chip Kelly axed the Philly careers of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles have been horrible in the passing game. In the first year without Jackson the Eagles ranked 31st in passing, last year without Maclin they ranked 28th, this year they rank 29th. That’s three straight drafts and free agency periods without a single individual stepping up to replace the production that both of those receivers used to make.
Jordan Matthews, who is the teams WR#1 despite playing primarily from the slot, recorded 11 catches for 65 yards against Dallas. The combination of Dorial Green-Beckham, Josh Huff, and Nelson Agholor recorded only 89 yards. For comparative purposes, Dez Bryant finished the night with 113 yards receiving, just 41 yards less than all Eagles receivers put together.
Dropped balls, once again, became a staggering issue in trying to produce a consistent, receiving attack. Matthews had two drops, DGB and Huff shared one each, and Agholor (2) went off on reporters after being asked about the subject.
Despite citing a good portion of blame to head coach Doug Pederson for his decision to punt instead of attempted a 54-yard field goal as well as a failed Sproles screen that linebacker Sean Lee blew up on 3rd & 8, the Birds have become utterly useless in the passing game and virtually non-existent in pass attempts over 15-yards.
The sad fact of the matter is that the Eagles offensively are not very good and likely will not be good until that receiver core is amplified. Wentz – a rookie quarterback – needs playmakers, and it is quite incredible what he has been able to accomplish and record thus far without them.