Instant Observations: Eagles-Cardinals
Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ 40-17 loss to the Cards Sunday night:
*Tight end Darren Fells took Byron Maxwell for a ride on Arizona’s opening possession.
Byron Maxwell getting a piggy back ride apparently. #Eagles #EaglesTalk https://t.co/FPXu2ZyZsU
— Patrick Causey (@InsdeTheHuddle) December 21, 2015
Looks like about 20 yards from initial contact to eventual takedown. Too many cases of poor form by Maxwell this season, presumably in the name of trying to force a fumble.
*Maxwell left briefly late in the first quarter after making a tackle and had his right shoulder area looked at, but returned for the start of the second quarter. He left again with 6:30 remaining in the half after being on the wrong end of a DeMeco Ryans collision during a pass break-up to have x-rays taken on his shoulder and did not return.
*Eric Rowe was forced to leave the game in the first half as well with a concussion.
*With Rowe and Maxwell sidelined, the Eagles went to reserves E.J. Biggers and Jaylen Watkins. The patchwork secondary held up for a little while before eventually giving way to superior talent on the other side of the ball.
*The defensive backfield took turns getting bested by David Johnson on a 47-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The rookie beat Walter Thurmond at the line of scrimmage, slipped past Watkins and Malcolm Jenkins, broke Ed Reynolds‘ attempted tackle and then stiff-armed Biggers on his way to the end zone.
*Biggers was spun around by John Brown on a third-quarter catch and run TD down the left sideline. Watkins was flagged for pass interference on the play before while covering Larry Fitzgerald.
*Fletcher Cox continues to crush it inside. He drove former Eagle center A.Q. Shipley deep into the backfield on his way to dropping Carson Palmer on third down deep in Eagles territory. Cox upped his sack total to 7.5 on the season, which is a personal best and team high.
*Marcus Smith tallied a half-sack, the first QB takedown of his career, and was credited with three tackles.
*Mychal Kendricks had a chance to stop Johnson short of the sticks on a third-down swing pass, but came up with mostly air.
*Brown dropped to would-be touchdowns, including a Palmer bomb on the first play from scrimmage that would have went the distance. Brown beat Rowe, who stumbled, but couldn’t haul in the grab. Again it was Rowe in coverage when Brown let one slip away in the corner of the end zone.
*Too easy for Johnson on second-and-goal from the one. Billy Davis had his group in a sub-package, and the Cardinals took advantage of the run-friendly look with an easy dive to the left side.
*Sam Bradford ended 28-of-41 for 361 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (91.6 rating).
*Bradford writhed on the ground in pain after his ailing non-throwing shoulder was slammed into the turf by Calais Campbell in the first half. He got up a beat later, though, and after getting checked out on the sideline, quickly returned to action to the crowd’s approval.
*The veteran QB hung in the pocket and absorbed his share of shots while delivering throws downfield (Arizona registered seven QB hits). No better example than when he stood in and hit Jordan Matthews for a 78-yard catch-and run TD early in the fourth while getting drilled by Alex Okafor.
*Matthews has been dealing with a back injury but showed no ill effects and led all receivers with eight catches for 159 yards, including a pretty sliding grab on the first-half play that Bradford got hurt.
*Bradford connected with Zach Ertz for a 22-yard TD midway through the second quarter. Ertz was able to shake loose of his defender, who appeared to lose his footing, for the easy score.
*Bradford slipped a pretty back-shoulder throw into Brent Celek in the second quarter. Probably his best of the half.
*His worst throw came on the first play of the fourth quarter, tossing it right to a waiting Deone Buchanon en route to a pick six. His play went downhill in the final quarter of play.
*Ryan Mathews got the start and ended with 11 carries for 58 yards.
*DeMarco Murray had a very limited role. He did not receive his first carry until midway through the third quarter and finished with two rushes for three yards.
*The Eagles went for it on 4th-and-1 from the Arizona eight with under a minute to play. Mathews was stopped short of the sticks for a turnover-on-downs.
*The Cardinals played a clean game, committing zero turnovers to the Eagles’ three and had just one penalty called for 10 yards.
*Arizona was 3-of-4 in the red zone. The Eagles 0-of-2.