Eagles-Lions Instant Observations
DETROIT — The Eagles lost to the Lions, 24-23. Here’s what we saw:
*The Eagles scored on five out of their nine drives, but Ryan Mathews’ fumble late in the fourth quarter was their first turnover of the season — and it was a costly one as the Lions started in Philadelphia territory and kicked a game-winning field goal. Then, on the Eagles’ final drive, Carson Wentz threw the first interception of his career. It looked like Nelson Agholor may have had a step on the defensive back, but it was a questionable — and risky — decision at best given the situation.
*Still, Wentz completed 25 of his 33 passes for 238 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 102.8 passer rating. The rookie made a costly mistake late, but he had several impressive throws throughout the game. He made one of his best throws of the season on a beautiful 27-yard pass to Jordan Matthews in the first half. Wentz left the pocket and scrolled to the right, pointed to Matthews to run down field and then delivered a great back-shoulder throw along the sideline. Wentz’s accuracy on the move has been impressive so far this season. The rookie also repeatedly showed off his impressive arm strength by completing intermediate out routes from the opposite hash.
*Wentz recorded the first designed run of his NFL career in the second quarter, as he picked up 10 yards on an option. It’s a packaged play the Eagles have run a lot of as a bubble screen is attached to an inside handoff, but it was the first time Wentz pulled the ball and ran it himself. The Eagles’ coaches favorite part of the play was probably when he ran out of bounds at the end and avoided any contact.
*Give Doug Pederson credit for the Eagles’ first touchdown of the game. He made a number of good calls, including an inside run with jet motion moving defenders to the outside after previously giving the ball to Josh Huff in the same situation earlier in the game. The offensive line also blocked the interior up well, leading to a 10-yard Darren Sproles run to the one-yard line, which set up a touchdown.
*Here’s something I haven’t seen in a while: After Sproles’ run, Wentz threw a touchdown pass to Ryan Mathews, but he did so out of a four-tight end set. In addition to Trey Burton, Brent Celek and Zach Ertz being on the field, Matt Tobin also entered the game.
*The Eagles only ran the ball 21 times, but they picked up 116 yards for 5.5 yards per carry. Sproles led them on the ground on 45 yards off of five rushes.
*It looked like Wentz and Jason Kelce had some pre-snap communication issues because of the noise at Ford Field, which led to a pair of delay of game penalties. It’s unclear, however, which player was responsible for each penalty.
*After not allowing a passing touchdown in the first three games for the first time in franchise history since 1934, the Eagles gave up three in the first half. Theo Riddick scored on a one-yard toss against Mychal Kendricks, who he consistently beat last year. That’s a bad matchup for the Eagles, but Nolan Carroll also struggled in the first quarter. He gave up a pair of Marvin Jones receptions for 26 yards, while also committing a pass interference penalty against Anquan Boldin.
*Detroit executed a great game plan to start off against Jim Schwartz. The Eagles’ defensive line got a good amount of penetration on run downs, but the Lions used misdirection plays and split-zone concepts to take advantage of how quickly the Eagles got upfield. Philadelphia’s linebackers and defensive backs didn’t fill the open holes like they needed to, except for Rodney McLeod, who recorded four of the first seven solo tackles of the game during Detroit’s opening drive.
*The Eagles’ poor start isn’t one person’s fault, but having Kendricks in the game instead of Nigel Bradham really hurt the Birds. Even on plays outside of missed tackles and touchdowns allowed, Kendricks made mistakes that set up scores. On Detroit’s 16-yard gain that set up their third trip to the end zone, Kendricks got sealed inside when it looked like he had an easy path to reach the outside and force the ballcarrier back inside. Malcolm Jenkins reportedly had some words for Kendricks after that second quarter play.
*It’s unclear why Bradham didn’t play in nickel in the first half, but it may have been the Eagles disciplining him after his latest arrest. Regardless, Bradham did play in nickel in the second half as he recovered a fumble in the Lions’ opening drive of the third quarter. He continued to impress, including one play where he blew up a screen and recorded a tackle-for-loss.