Eagles-Bucs, The Day After
Malcolm Jenkins couldn’t hide his disgust.
The Eagles had just been whistled for 12 men on the field to turn a 3rd-and-4 into a Bucs first down, extending what ended up being a 15-play, 80-yard, 9:47 life-sucking touchdown drive to start the second half. He shot daggers and barked at his teammates on the field, and had plenty of lingering frustration as he spoke with reporters following a 45-17 loss that has shaken public confidence in this regime to its core.
“We’re trying to scrap our way back into the game and we’re on third down, an opportunity to get off the field and we have 12 guys on the field. That’s embarrassing. Because it has nothing to do with football, you just have no clue what you’re doing,” he said. “It looks bad on the coaching staff, it looks bad as players, individuals. Especially at that time when you’re holding onto every ounce of enthusiasm and momentum that you have and you just give it back by having a really elementary brain [cramp], it’s just tough.
“No one should have to be riled up to have some pride for the name on the back of their jerseys. It’s something as a leader, this is not something I should be handling. It’s gotta come from everybody as individuals.”
Multiple coaches explained afterwards that the Eagles were supposed to be in dime but one of the linebackers missed the call and stayed on. Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso were the two inside linebackers on the field. Earlier in the drive it appeared Kendricks was the sole ‘backer in dime, so it stands to reason that Alonso was the one who did not belong.
No matter. It’s less about who committed the penalty, and more about the type of environment that must exist for such a penalty (and such a loss) to occur in the first place.
Andy Reid would actually count the players himself in his last year at the helm for the Eagles. With trust having all but eroded, he’d often walk over to the group about to take the field and point at them one by one to make sure the number came out to 11. It was one of many signs that he had lost control of the operation, however desperately he tried to maintain it.
Sunday had a 2012 feel to it. There was a listlessness and a level of dysfunction often associated with regimes that have exceeded their expiration date, though this one is less than three years old. A season that was supposed to be defined by the Eagles’ rise from “good to great” has sharply descended into a place where the central focus is Chip Kelly‘s viability.
“I think so,” Jenkins responded when asked if Kelly still has the support of the locker room. “It’s no time to fold up or quit. I think guys still believe in the plan. Today [the main issue was] defensively, so I don’t think Chip hurt his reputation with the team at any point because he has nothing to do with that to be honest.”
“Not so much doubt, just disappointing,” added Lane Johnson when asked if Kelly’s methods will be looked at with a skeptical eye. “It may raise some questions, but as far as right now we’re just all disappointed and kind of looking around, searching for answers.”
What kind of questions do you think have been raised?
“How can we change up anything from our scheme offensively, kind of put ourselves in the best positions to get things done?” said Johnson.
The players were generally supportive but not overly protective of their head coach in the locker room (which also describes Kelly’s approach to them this season). When it comes to both Kelly and roster he’s assembled, there’s little to justifiably defend and much to question.
“It just sucks because we had a lot of success before and this year was supposed to be the year where we make a big leap, and just not having that being done, it sucks,” said Johnson. “I don’t even know what to tell you. We’re all in the same boat with him.”
And it’s taking on water.
“A game like that will shake your confidence,” said Billy Davis, “and that’s our biggest enemy right now. We have to make sure it doesn’t destroy us.”
RED ZONE WOES
While the defense has been strong in several categories this season, red zone efficiency has left something to be desired. Per team rankings, Davis’ group ranks 24th in opponent red zone scoring percentage (62 percent).
Sunday did not help those numbers, as the defense allowed five touchdowns on six trips.
Nolan Carroll was in coverage for three of Jameis Winston‘s five touchdown passes, including a 13-yard toss to Vincent Jackson that made it 14-7 early in the second.
“Honestly with his split, I was thinking fade,” said Carroll. “He just set me up and ran inside. He just darted in, and once he darted in and kind of got inside me he kind of gave it to him on the run and just kind of squeezed in there.”
He also ended up on Russell Shepard for the TD that made it a 14-point game.
“It’s kind of a ‘read it’ type situation,” he explained. “They schemed us up on it. They knew what we were in and what we were doing and they got a good one.”
Winston made it 28-14 heading into the break with this floater that somehow turned into six.
“Honestly, I don’t know how he got the ball. I thought it was a pick for sure,” said Byron Maxwell.” I went up. When you look at it I’m over top of him, I’m like, it’s a pick. He snatched the ball. He made a great play.”
The Eagles defense has yielded 10 touchdowns on 13 red zone trips over the past three games. The ‘D’ has been the strength of this team, but looks to be leaking some oil of late.
— Josh Paunil (@JoshPaunil) November 22, 2015
Well, the fans are still bringing it, anyway.
Mark Sanchez picked the wrong guy to get into a pissing match with today. Darren Sproles is one of most respected players in Eag locker room — Paul Domowitch (@pdomo) November 22, 2015
Domo thinks Sanchez went down the wrong road by going after Sproles.
Really, Chip, really?
— Jim Kenney (@JimFKenney) November 22, 2015
Uh-oh, even the Mayor-elect is turning.
Think this guy wins.
QUOTES OF NOTE
“I didn’t see this one coming.”
— Billy Davis‘ first remarks postgame.
“Our 11 have to stop their 11, and Billy is not one of those 11. Obviously I think there are some things that could put us in better situations. They did do a good job of scheming us up and I think at times their scheme was better than ours, but at the point of attack their players were also better than ours. It’s give and take and there’s plenty of blame to go around.”
— Malcolm Jenkins on Davis and Kelly taking the heat.
“Man, let me tell you something. I’m not going to cry, but this is definitely a dream come true for me to play here. I’ve always wanted to play here my whole life since I was a little boy. I always wanted to be an Eagle. I was even singing the fight song out there on the field. I was singing, you better believe I was.”
— Winston on his five-touchdown performance at the Linc.
“They’ve gotta do something to help E.J. Biggers out at that nickel position because he is getting absolutely killed today.”
— Fox color analyst David Diehl after Biggers was beat by Adam Humphries to extend the Bucs drive early in the third. Asked why there was a new nickel look this week, Jenkins said: “I don’t know. We showed up Tuesday and that’s what the coaches wanted to do this week, so that’s what we did.”
“Today, they weren’t very polite out there. That’s typical of ’em. But you know, when we’re losing everyone is mad. I know they’re mad, they care a lot about this team. I care a lot about this team. It just sucks when we can’t go out there and produce because I really want to win and bring a championship to this city one day.”
— Lane Johnson on the fans Sunday.
“There is only one way to go, that’s up. The worst has happened to us. The crazy thing is we still have a shot.”
— The eternally optimistic Brandon Graham
“I apologize for how we played football today. They deserve better. We have to play better and get it fixed before Thursday. These fans deserve to see better football.”
— Connor Barwin
With the outcome decided, Jason Peters pulled himself out of the game down the stretch, he said, “because I didn’t want to hurt myself worse.”…Jordan Matthews played every snap but ended with just four catches for 13 yards…Nelson Agholor had the next highest receiver snap total. He had three catches for 11 yards…Miles Austin did not appear on the stat sheet…Josh Huff received 17 snaps in the game, and did not get targeted after his 39-yard TD.
DeMeco Ryans finished with just two tackles…Chris Maragos did not receive a single snap as Davis changed up the nickel look, relying on E.J. Biggers to man the slot…Eric Rowe played in dime situations.