Wake-Up Call: Eagles Blow Opportunities
It’s unclear who said it, but the sentiment was probably widely held in the locker room.
“Catch the f-cking football!” one Eagle reportedly yelled after last night’s loss. The Eagles dropped six to eight passes — it depends on how you count them — but the takeaway is the same: it’s tough to expect Sam Bradford to win games when you don’t give him much help.
“Our defense plays lights out every single week,” Jordan Matthews said. “You can’t tell me we don’t have a championship defense. You can’t tell me we don’t have a championship quarterback.”
Matthews was one of the biggest culprits against the Panthers, as he missed a pass that turned into an interception in the first quarter. Several other receivers dropped potential catches too, but few could explain why.
Zach Ertz, although unsure, suggested it may have to do with a lack of concentration, or throws that aren’t perfect, or pass protection that isn’t great. But the common theme among pass-catchers was uncertainty.
“I don’t know. I don’t have any specific answer,” Matthews said. “I just know it’s got to get fixed. I feel like I’m number one on the list of the guys that got to get it fixed. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s not something I’ve done my whole career. I didn’t have a lot last year and I didn’t have a lot in college.”
Bradford made some bad throws as he completed 26 of his 46 passes for 205 yards and an interception, but it’s difficult for a quarterback to develop a rhythm with poor play surrounding him. Bradford averaged just 4.5 yards per throw against Carolina, and he ranks third-to-last in the NFL in that category this season.
According to the quarterback, the Eagles planned to attack underneath the Panthers’ defense because of Carolina’s coverages to take the deep ball away. He added that he hasn’t lost confidence in his receivers, despite the drops.
“Inconsistency is probably the word that comes to mind,” Bradford said. “I think we have shown flashes in about every game on doing things well and moving the ball, running the offense the way that we want to, but then there’s other times, whether it be a various assortment of self-inflicted wounds, we just kill ourselves. And it just happens too often.”
The Eagles also struggled in the red zone, even though they averaged 5.9 yards per carry and totaled 177 rushing yards. In two trips, they settled for field goals both times, scoring just six points off three Cam Newton interceptions.
On one play, Josh Huff dropped a potential touchdown catch. On another, Matthews failed to get both feet down in the end zone, although it looked like a difficult play to make.
“It pisses me off,” Lane Johnson said. “We do get some yards and then we go down there and kick a field goal instead of making the conversions, getting down there and scoring touchdowns. I think that’s what hurt us.”
According to Johnson, the offensive line’s communication didn’t worsen after Jason Peters exited the game due to lower back spasms. Matt Tobin shifted to left tackle and Dennis Kelly moved to right guard, but the Panthers ended up sacking Bradford five times for a loss of 33 yards.
The one bright spot on the Eagles’ offense was Ryan Mathews, who rushed the ball six times for 97 yards and a touchdown. DeMarco Murray, on the other hand, averaged 3.6 yards per carry on triple the attempts, reigniting the discussion of the running backs’ workload.
“[Running backs coach] Duce [Staley] is running the rotation,” Chip Kelly said. “We talked about it. Some of it we were calling pass plays, [Mathews] was in there for a few passes. We had him in there. He was playing in the third and fourth quarter; they were just pass plays called when he was in there.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“The drops obviously hurt big time.” Chip on the loss.
The Eagles’ run defense struggled, and three other key takeaways from Charlotte.
Instant observations: What T-Mac saw live as the game unfolded.
Congrats to our friend Derek Bodner, who just launched Sixers 24/7 here at Philly Mag.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
A healthy Newton was too much for the Eagles, writes Mike Sielski.
When the Eagles played the Carolina Panthers last season, and beat them handily, Cam Newton was a frozen husk of the quarterback he can be. He had undergone ankle surgery during the spring of 2014, and the rehabilitation and recovery had left him stationary, had confined him to the pocket, and the Eagles took advantage of their good fortune. They sacked him nine times, intercepted him three times, and won by 24 points.
That Cam Newton did not show up to Bank of America Stadium on Sunday night, as glad as the Eagles would have been to see him. This time, Newton was healthy. He was mobile. He was dynamic. And though he again threw three interceptions, he justified the attention that the Eagles had planned all week to pay him, making enough big plays for the Panthers to win, 27-16, influencing the Eagles’ defense on every Carolina offensive snap.
Reuben Frank offers ten observations from last night’s game.
So much for first place.
The Eagles came out slow once again, dug themselves into a hole and never were able to get out of it. That’s been a recurring theme this year.
Chip will address the media at 1 p.m.