Four Downs: Eagles Drop the Ball
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Eagles lost to the Panthers, 27-16, at Bank of America Stadium. Here’s what we saw.
MOST TELLING STAT: 6.2
Once again, the Eagles’ defense did more than enough for Philadelphia to win the game. They forced three turnovers against a team not accustomed to doing so and limited Cam Newton to a 59.2 passer rating.
However, Philadelphia’s offense didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, so the Panthers’ 6.2 yards per carry proved costly as Carolina consistently relied on the ground game to power their offense. The Eagles gave up two rushing touchdowns — tripling their season total — and let the Panthers reach 204 rushing yards.
As we’ve seen before, the Eagles’ defense appeared to tire a bit in the fourth quarter, and they missed a few tackles. Earlier in the game, Byron Maxwell made a weak attempt to bring down Mike Tolbert on a 2-yard touchdown catch after Malcolm Jenkins knocked Tolbert back a couple of yards on his initial contact.
DID YOU NOTICE?
After Jason Peters left the game with lower back spasms, it’s fair to say I was less than confident in Dennis Kelly at right guard with Matt Tobin shifting to left tackle. However, Kelly held his own and blocked the second level well.
At times, Kelly even outperformed Jason Kelce, who struggled some in the first half. Before Peters’ exit, Kelce and Tobin had a miscommunication that contributed to a sack. It’s unclear why the defensive tackle was left unblocked, but Tobin was the last one on him.
As a whole, however, the offensive line continued to run block better, leading the way for a rushing attack that averaged nearly six yards a carry.
There were certainly times Bradford could’ve made better throws, but much of his inefficiency was also due to a lack of help. He was sacked five times, and the Eagles dropped several passes.
Josh Huff dropped a potential touchdown — after a good throw by Bradford — and Miles Austin, Zach Ertz, Jordan Matthews and Darren Sproles also let the ball hit the ground. It’s tough to expect your quarterback to do much better than 26-of-45 for 205 yards and one interception when he gets the production Bradford got from his receivers tonight.
Bradford’s pick is a good microcosm for his performance: he could’ve thrown a better ball that was easier for Matthews to catch, but his receiver also could’ve done more to haul it in.
I don’t know what else Chip Kelly needs to see. Ryan Mathews deserves more snaps, and it’s clear as day. Kelly has repeatedly said that he views DeMarco Murray and Mathews as the same player, but they aren’t.
Mathews has consistently shown that he has acceleration and an extra gear that Murray simply doesn’t. That was evident on Mathews’ 63-yard touchdown run, as he burst through the hole and wasn’t caught from behind.
While Mathews ran down the field and eluded one final defender trying to catch him, I thought back to Murray’s 24-yard run down the left sideline against the Saints. Murray was caught from behind, and I still believe Mathews would’ve probably outran him.
Tonight, it was the reverse, and I don’t think Murray would’ve reached the end zone as Mathews did.