Eagles-Cowboys, The Day After
That was Lane Johnson‘s opening statement as a pair of reporters approached his locker stall following the Eagles’ 20-10 loss to the Cowboys Sunday afternoon.
Some time had passed since the clock hit zero on arguably the worst offensive performance of the Chip Kelly era. Most players had completed their interviews, showered and left the scene of the crime by that point. But Johnson lingered, still not fully out of his battle gear as he welcomed wave after wave of media inquiries into what went wrong.
“I don’t even know what just happened, to be honest,” he said as one of the first questions lapped ashore. From there he began putting it together piece-by piece.
It’s not like they didn’t know what was coming, Johnson concluded. As was the case last week with the Falcons, the Cowboys’ approach was what the Eagles were expecting based off film study. They just couldn’t do anything about it.
“We knew what they were going to do. We knew they were going to slant. They’re not overly-talented up front so that’s the way they get by,” he said.
“Mentally, we’ve gotta pick up stunts and know what the defense is going to give us. Basically you’ve gotta go out there and get it done. You can’t go out there on Sundays and piss down your leg like we just did today.”
Johnson was hoping that DeMarco Murray would run for 200 against his former team. Instead, he managed just two yards on 13 carries. The offense totaled 17 yards on the ground, and is now averaging just 2.12 yards per rush through two games. There are a couple different factors you can point to in trying to explain why. Two-fifths of the offensive front is new. There’s a feeling-out process going on between Johnson and Andrew Gardner; Jason Kelce and Gardner; Kelce and Allen Barbre; Barbe and Peters. And Atlanta and Dallas seemed to have a good grasp on how to combat Kelly’s ground attack — particularly the inside zone.
But in the end, Johnson said, it comes down to execution. For whatever reason, this offensive line — this offense — has not been close to on point. By the sounds of it, the team is going to empty the bag this week in an attempt to knock themselves out of what has quickly turned into a dangerous funk.
“Maybe we got a little overconfident in the preseason, thought we could just go out there and beat anybody and obviously that’s not the case,” he said. “The Jets week is really going to define what we are and what we’re going to be.
“I think this week we’re going to have a team meeting and maybe a come-to-Jesus meeting and we’ve got to figure something out. Admit our faults, let loose of our pride a little bit and come together and communicate better.
“We do have a lot of new faces but we can’t use that as an excuse. This week here is really going to define, I think, our season. We can either sulk on it and point fingers or we can come together and get s%*t fixed.”
Jordan Hicks had just knocked Tony Romo out of the game on a sack fumble that Fletcher Cox picked up, giving the Eagles a rare injection of momentum midway through the third quarter. The offense moved the ball downfield and looked poised to cut into the 13-point deficit until Sam Bradford threw an interception to Sean Lee in the back of the end zone.
“We were calling a play trying to get some man coverage and they zoned it off,” said Bradford. “When I got back to [Zach] Ertz, it looked like Sean Lee had his back turned to him so I gave him a chance and somehow I threw it to him and he made a great play.”
Troy Aikman pointed out on the TV broadcast that Riley Cooper was the next receiver in Bradford’s progression and if the QB got to him, it likely would have resulted in six. Instead, Bradford forced a throw to Ertz.
“I don’t know where he was trying to throw the ball,” said Aikman. “If you try to throw that with a guy with his back to the ball, you put it up high. Just really no opportunity whatsoever.”
Eagles LT Jason Peters: “The Dallas offensive line is good. We’re just better. We’re going to make sure [DeMarco Murray] gets his yards.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 20, 2015
Reader Matt, in response to my posting the halftime observations Sunday. Think you had it right, Matt.
Things seem to be going swimmingly in Philadelphia https://t.co/8rHJnkmupd
— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) September 20, 2015
Man, Murray was fired up all game. At one point, he separated himself from the rest of his teammates on the sideline and cooled off next to the team’s head of security before rejoining the group. He wanted this one bad.
But you guys! The real problem with the Eagles offense is that our RB dances too much in the backfield! — Brian Solomon (@Brian_Solomon) September 20, 2015
Yeah, evidence is mounting that suggests LeSean McCoy and his running style wasn’t the issue last year. When you’re running for your life and getting hit consistently behind the line of scrimmage, being a north-south back doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.
J.J…… Nice pick.. Sealed!!!!!!’ Go cowboys!!!
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) September 20, 2015
Dez Bryant, live tweeting the game, reacts to J.J. Wilcox‘s fourth-quarter interception.
“It was pretty loud at that point but I hadn’t really started my cadence yet. Next thing you know, the ball hit me. So, I think it was just a little bit early.”
— Bradford, telling reporters in the kindest way possible that Jason Kelce was responsible for the botched second-half shotgun exchange that gave the ball right back to Dallas after the Eagles forced a turnover the play before.
“He has to get examined tomorrow and we’ll see what he says. The initial report is that he broke his collarbone and we have to see the extent of it. We’ll examine him more in the morning and make some determinations about how long he may be out.”
— Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on the loss of Romo. Early reports indicate he could be out for around eight weeks. The 2-0 Cowboys will be without their starting quarterback and top receiver for the foreseeable future. If there’s any bright side for the Eagles, it’s that no team in the NFC East looks to be in a position to run away with the division.
“I was just about as low as crippled cricket’s ass. I was feeling sorry for myself. I thought the world was picking on me. How could anybody be as bad off as me?”
— Jerry Jones after hearing news of the Romo injury.
“When they were at negative 14 yards rushing, I wanted it to stay there but unfortunately it didn’t happen. We gave up those yards towards the end and I wish we could’ve just walked away with the negative 14, I wanted that…Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with what we have now but I wanted that negative 14 bad.”
— Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey on how it felt to play DeMarco Murray and hold the team to seven rushing yards.
Like last week, Jason Peters had to exit the game with an injury but returned after one play… Ertz received more snaps than Brent Celek for the second straight week…Ryan Mathews, who played 16 snaps against the Falcons, was barely on the field…Nelson Agholor continues to get the bulk of the reps alongside Jordan Matthews. He had three catches for for 31 yards on six targets.
Chris Maragos came in as the deep safety once again when the team is in nickel. With 43 snaps Sunday, he’s already set a new personal high for defensive plays in a season, and it’s only Week 2….DeMeco Ryans didn’t appear to be at full speed but ended up seeing the most inside linebacker snaps after Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks were lost to injury. Hicks was thrown into a big role. Kelly seemed pleased with his performance.