WTS: Eagles-Lions Officiating Was ‘Ridiculous’

Plus: Why Carson Wentz has still been impressive, despite his costly interception.

Photo by: USA Today Sports.

Photo by: USA Today Sports.

After Sunday’s 24-23 loss to the Detroit Lions, here’s what the national media are saying about the Eagles.

NFL.com’s Kevin Patra says Carson Wentz was still impressive, even with his first career interception late in the game.

2. Wentz threw the first interception of his career on his 135th pass of the season to quickly stifle any last-minute comeback. The rookie quarterback played sublime otherwise. Wentz picked apart a banged-up Detroit defense in the final three quarters with precision passes, heady rollouts, timely runs and great line calls. Too much is made of Wentz dinking-and-dunking. That’s the offense Doug Pederson calls. When asked to throw down the field Wentz displayed pin-point accuracy — his ball placement on a 28-yard back-shoulder throw to Jordan Matthews late in the first half was Pro Bowl caliber. Wentz led the Eagles back from a 14-0 deficit to start the game. If the Eagles defense wasn’t so sleepy in the first quarter, it would have been a different outcome.

3. It was a tale of two halves for Jim Schwartz‘s defense. The Eagles looked sluggish out of the gate. Matthew Stafford carved them up with quick passes on three straight touchdown drives of 11 plays, 9 plays and 12 plays to open the game. Philadelphia could not cover or tackle running back Theo Riddick(two TD catches) in the first half. Jim Bob Cooter used a plethora of misdirection early to gash Schwartz defense.

Going deep to Nelson Agholor on the final offensive play for the Eagles was a bad idea, opines Chris Chase of FoxSports.com.

Wentz shook off his first receiver, and he wanted to go deep all along. He never saw a wide-open Jordan Matthews streaking across the middle on a cleared out left side of the field. He had 20 yards, easy, before he had to get out of bounds. Wentz owned up to it.

“It was something we had seen from them, at the end of the first half,” Wentz told reporters after the game. “We thought we had a chance there.”

A chance, sure. Likely? No. What’s made the Eagles 3-0 with a golden opportunity to get to 4-0? Cutting it down simply, they’ve had a good defense and a decent rushing attack and have put Wentz in position to succeed by developing a short-strike offense that let him play dink-and-dunk, first-read football. That last part isn’t pejorative — Wentz has been great in an offense that’s best designed to assist a rookie quarterback thrive on what might be a good team or a mediocre one.

On one hand, you can admire the moxie. It’s understandable why Wentz wanted to stop riding the brakes and gun it near the end of the game. You want your quarterback to think he can make that throw in that situation. You need a quarterback who wants to make that throw in that situation. But given how Wentz played in the first 238 minutes of the season and how successful the Eagles were in them, the throw was misguided at best.

Wentz’s rookie moment cost the Eagles their undefeated mark, pens Rohan Nadkarni of SI.com.

Wentz has been phenomenal so far this season, and was solid again in Detroit on Sunday. He completed over 75% of his passes, throwing for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. A major key to his success this season has been an ability to avoid turnovers, but Wentz’s 0% interception rate was always unsustainable, and he was finally picked off on the first play of his potential comeback drive, as Darius Slay nabbed a deep ball intended for Nelson Agholor.

It was a rare rookie mistake from Wentz, who’s played within himself even as the hysteria has grown through the first five weeks of the season. The pass wasn’t the most ill-advised throw, but it was certainly impatient, as Wentz had time on the clock to dink-and-dunk down the field instead of launching a ball deep into double coverage on first down. The rookie’s first interception coincided with the Eagles’ first loss, as Philly dropped to 3–1 on the season.

(The Lions, by the way, came away with a win to save their season. Detroit is now 2–3, but will need Matthew Stafford to play more consistently to keep playoff hopes alive.)

The Eagles’ first loss in no way casts a pall on what’s been a shockingly great start to the season. Now Wentz will face his latest test in responding to a tight loss—and it’s hard to imagine him not responding well.

Eagles broadcaster Merrill Reese was a guest on the 94 WIP Morning Show and said Sunday’s game was one of the worst officiated games he’s ever seen.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous. You can talk about the defense being flat on its his heels at the beginning of the game, early in the first half, but you know what two of the biggest plays – the tone setter of this game was the Lions running the ball around the edge, and once Connor Barwin was – he was obviously held – and then on the next play, Vinny Curry was practically tackled, and off went the Lions.

“You talk about the things that the officials did wrong, they had no control of that game. They were flustered, they had Connor Barwin illegally downfield on an offensive play that took hours it seemed like to unravel. They had Darren Sproles – Darren Sproles isn’t big enough to throw a chop block.

“[Brandon Brooks’] hands were inside the frame. But because the Lions defender threw up his arms, the officials threw up the flag, and we just threw up.”

The Eagles lost a great opportunity to show how strong the NFC East was, opines Don Banks of NFL.com.

What a missed opportunity for the Eagles in Detroit. Philadelphia was sleep-walking in the first quarter, but overcame it and seemed poised to put away its fourth victory without a defeat in the Carson Wentz era. Then the Eagles (3-1) let the game slip away, with running back Ryan Mathews coughing up a critical fumble with less than three minutes left.

Instead of a great example of learning how to win on the road when you don’t have your A game, the Eagles found a way to lose late, with Mathews’ fumble being followed up by Wentz’s first interception after 134 pass attempts as a pro. It wasn’t a crushing loss, but Philly could have used it with Dallas playing so well and Washington having strung together three wins in a row in the suddenly powerful NFC East.

Tim McManus of ESPN.com thinks Wentz can help the Eagles avoid a losing streak.

The trick is preventing momentum from getting stuck on the wrong side. This is where the rookie coach will be tested. Pederson will be charged with getting his team to clean up its play and regroup as the 3-1 Eagles turn their attention to a key divisional game this Sunday at the Washington Redskins.

Pederson’s biggest ally in this effort could very well be Wentz. While some areas of the operation faltered against the Lions, the first-year quarterback enjoyed another strong performance. He ended up 25-of-33 for 238 yards through the air, with two touchdowns and the late interception. Wentz was 11-of-12 with two touchdowns against the blitz on Sunday, according to ESPN Stats & Information research; and he is now 27-of-32 with three touchdowns against the blitz this season.

Through four games, he has thrown for 1,007 yards, with seven touchdowns and one interception. Despite his lack of experience, he arguably has been the team’s biggest constant to date.

So long as that continues, momentum shouldn’t leave the Eagles for long.

The bad first half start was a big reason why the Eagles fell in Detroit, opines Dieter Kurtenbach of FoxSports.com.

Don’t let the score fool you, the Lions are still oh so bad.

No, this score came about because the Eagles got a little too big for their shiny green britches and decided to take the first half of Sunday’s game off.

You’d be hard pressed to play more disjointed.

Carson Wentz was fine, though — until he made his first real rookie mistake of the season in the final seconds, handing Detroit the win.

Philadelphia has no reason to panic, but don’t expect this game to be a springboard for Detroit. Again, they’re still really bad.