What They’re Saying About the Eagles
Here’s a roundup of what the local and national media are saying about the Eagles this week.
In the current playoff picture, the Eagles hold the third seed and would face the Detroit Lions at home in Wild Card Round.
Chris Wesseling of NFL.com offers his takeaways from the Eagles-Seahawks game:
2. If there was any doubt that the Legion of Boom is back to Super Bowl-level dominance after getting Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell back in recent weeks, this game put it to rest. The Eagles had been averaging 35 points and 420 yards per game since Mark Sanchez took over for Nick Foles. They managed just 139 net yards on Sunday, 61 fewer than their previous low under Chip Kelly. Similar to the shut-down performance against the Broncos last February, the Seahawks smothered Sanchez’s receivers, forcing him to settle for short passes. The first of Sanchez’s touchdowns was the result of a short field following an aborted punt. The second was simply a perfect pass on a well-schemed play to Zach Ertz.
3. The Eagles were outclassed by a better team, but that doesn’t mean they’re no longer the favorites in the NFC East. Every quarterback is going to struggle against Seattle’s surging defense. Led by defensive end Fletcher Cox, an underrated star, Philadelphia’s front seven actually won the battle of the trenches. Marshawn Lynch had to break a slew of tackles to get to 3.7 yards per carry. The Eagles will have a more complete roster and homefield advantage while attempting to knock off the Cowboys for the second time in three weeks next Sunday.
Judy Battista of NFL.com talks about the how the physicality of the Seattle secondary took a toll on the Birds:
The trouble for the Eagles is that because they could not gain any yards Sunday (they rushed for 57) and because Mark Sanchez barely completed (or attempted) any passes — he was 10 of 20 for 96 yards — they could not sustain drives. And because the Eagles move so fast even in failure, the offense’s appearances on the field were scant. Three of their 13 drives (excluding an end-of-half kickoff return following a Seahawks field goal) lasted 25 seconds or fewer. Nine of the 13 (again, excluding the end of the half) did not last two minutes. Their longest drive of the afternoon was their final one, at 3:31, and that ended in a punt, too. Philly had just nine first downs and converted just two third-down opportunities. The Eagles held the ball for just 18:04 and ran just 45 offensive plays — after averaging 73 plays in their previous 12 games. Blink — or go on a beer run — and you missed them.
The Around the NFL crew puts together seven plays that explain Week 14 including Russell Wilson‘s 15-yard touchdown pass to Marshawn Lynch:
Russell Wilson spent the afternoon escaping pressure and carrying the Seahawks’ offense with his improvisational skills on broken plays. He staked his team to a 10-point lead when he reversed field and found Marshawn Lynch wide open for a 15-yard touchdown.
Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com believes Mark Sanchez fell short in his attempt to secure the starting quarterback job:
Nothing was nice and clean about the Eagles’ 24-14 loss to the defending Super Bowl champions. Including Sanchez’s play.
The Eagles had just 139 yards of offense against Seattle. Sanchez completed 10 of 20 passes for 96 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and one interception. Sanchez was sacked three times.
“I think he made some good decisions at times,” Kelly said. “He hit a nice ball to [Zach] Ertz, caught him on the sideline. [Sanchez] did a good job on the motion on the goal line when no one adjusted with [Jeremy] Maclin. Got the ball out to him. I think he was under some pressure today. We’ve usually done a better job cleaning the pocket.
“But I think he missed a couple of throws, too, and he’ll be the first to tell you that.”
Peter King rounds up Week 14 in his Monday Morning Quarterback post:
The Fine Fifteen
5. Philadelphia (9-4). A bad loss, if you’re thinking about how poor the Eagles’ passing game looks (10 of 20, 96 yards, 2-1 TD-picks), and if you consider that the Eagles may have to beat Seattle get to the Super Bowl. But of a more immediate nature, the Eagles still control the NFC East and have a home game with similarly 9-4 Dallas before finishing against the Giants and Washington. The division is there for them to win.
Offensive Players of the Week
Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle. Stat of the Day In Philadelphia: Seattle had the ball for 41:56. Son of Stat of the Day In Philadelphia: The Eagles, leaders in offensive snaps this season with their fast-paced offense, ran 45 offensive plays Sunday; Seattle ran 85. Credit Wilson, who was an absolute maestro against a determined Philadelphia rush. Wilson was 22 of 37 for 263 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions (99.3 rating), and added a perfectly executed fake and 26-yard touchdown run that frustrated the Eagles greatly; they never came close to touching him once he wheeled around and sprinted left for the end zone. Wilson was so fluid and unhittable in the pocket. Just a terrific game for him.
Mike Sielski of the Inquirer writes that the loss to Seattle proves the Birds are not yet ready to be considered elite:
Look, the Eagles’ loss Sunday doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t beat the Cowboys next week or win the NFC East for the second time in two years under Kelly. But it does mean that the hopes and expectations for this team, for this season, have to be tempered. Within the division, Kelly’s presence gives the Eagles a substantial advantage over Jason Garrett, the Giants’ Tom Coughlin, or the Redskins’ Jay Gruden – all of whom are in charge of rosters with comparable overall talent to the Eagles’. But there’s enough evidence to show that the Eagles are a rung below the best of the NFC – the Seahawks and the Packers – and they have a ways yet to go to make up that gap.
The shortcomings that Kelly is working with, particularly at quarterback, ought to be obvious by now. When Mark Sanchez plays a clean game at quarterback, it is a gift, and Sanchez was not clean Sunday. He threw a dying-balloon interception. He missed open receivers. Worse, though, is that Kelly has to contour the offense to accentuate Sanchez’s strengths and minimize his weaknesses, and primary among those weaknesses is his erratic accuracy and timing on deep, difficult passes.
Les Bowen of the Daily News notes that the turning point in this game came right after halftime:
The play of the day was the first snap of the third quarter. McCoy, the defending NFL rushing champion, took the snap, leaned into the line, was stopped dead for no gain and saw the ball ripped from his grasp by Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright. Earl Thomas recovered – that name sounds familiar somehow – and two plays later, Russell Wilson rolled right, then threw back across his body to uncovered running back Marshawn Lynch for an easy, 15-yard touchdown. A 10-7 game became a 17-7 game, and quickly, the tone of the afternoon shifted.
Turnovers have been the Eagles’ biggest problem this season, and at the defining moment yesterday, the team that entered the day leading the league in giveaways was exactly that team, again.
“That was a huge turnover,” Kelly acknowledged. “It’s a close game, you can establish something in that first drive of the second half and then kind of get some momentum on your side, but that really hurt, at that point in time.”
Paul Domowitch of the Daily News discusses the run game that failed to show up against Seattle:
“We have to do a better job in the middle of the game of making those corrections [to the run game] and fixing them. If you look at the games when we’ve had success on offense, especially a lot of success, the vast majority of those games, we’ve run the ball effectively.”
And when the Eagles don’t run the ball effectively, like yesterday, the rest of the offense also sputters. Sanchez completed just 10 of 20 passes for 96 yards. The Eagles managed just nine first downs and 139 yards, the lowest total since Chip Kelly arrived in Philadelphia
And McCoy spent a day that should have been one of the most gratifying of his career kicking himself.
“The record wasn’t on my mind at all,” said McCoy, who passed Montgomery on a 4-yard run in the third quarter shortly after the Seahawks went up, 24-14.
Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com talks about the Eagles’ historically terrible day on offense:
They couldn’t run. They couldn’t throw. They couldn’t block. They couldn’t catch.
It was a historic night for the Eagles but not the way they wanted. The Eagles netted just 139 yards of offense in a 24-14 loss to the Seahawks (see Instant Replay), fewest ever by a Chip Kelly team on any level, fewest by the Eagles in any game in nine years and fewest in a home game in 31 years.
In a matchup between Pete Carroll’s record-setting Super Bowl defense and former Pac-12 rival Kelly’s explosive offense, it was no contest.
“I don’t know how many yards we had — I think barely over 100, so that’s very disappointing,” right tackle Lane Johnson said. “The defense came out and played well. It is unfortunate that our offense wasn’t able to go out and help them.”
The Eagles went into the game fourth in the NFL in offense at 417 yards per game.
They managed exactly one-third of that.
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.