Eagles vs. Giants Final Score: Nine Things We Learned From Philadelphia’s Loss
The Philadelphia Eagles are now 4-4 after losing to the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon by a final score of 28 to 23. Here’s a look at nine things to be learned from this game.
1 – The Eagles lost a must-win game
Simple as that, really.
The Eagles really needed this game. Doug Pederson and several players even said as much leading up to Sunday. But they lost it. The Eagles are now 4-4 overall and 0-3 in the division. The Birds are dead last at the bottom of the NFC East. Take a look at the updated standings.
1 – Dallas Cowboys 7-1 (2-1)
2 – New York Giants 5-3 (2-1)
3 – Washington Redskins 4-3-1 (2-1)
4 – Philadelphia Eagles 4-4 (0-3)
There’s still eight games left, so the Eagles haven’t quite been mathematically eliminated from the NFL playoffs yet, but their post-season chances obviously aren’t looking good after this loss.
2 – The Eagles can’t win a close game
Eagles in games decided by 10+ points: 4-0
Eagles in games decided by <10 points: 0-4
— Adam Hermann (@adamwhermann) November 6, 2016
On Saturday, I wrote about how the Eagles are arguably better than their record indicates. It’s not as simple as writing them off as a bad team. It’s not like they’re getting blown out. Their largest margin of defeat is by seven points. They’ve been in position to win the games they’ve lost. They just haven’t gotten the job done.
Part of the problem is that the Eagles are putting themselves in bad positions at the end of games. Philadelphia got off to a terrible start against New York thanks to two terrible interceptions from Carson Wentz. It wasn’t the first time the Eagles got off to a slow start on the road this season. The Eagles fell behind to the Lions by a score of 21 to 7. The Eagles fell behind Washington 24 to 14. They Eagles fell behind the Cowboys 10 to 3. The Eagles fell behind the Giants 21 to 10.
A lot of talk about PHI not finishing games, but their +/- in the first quarter is their worst mark by far:
— Josh Paunil (@JoshPaunil) November 6, 2016
The Eagles are now 0-4 in games when they don’t score the first touchdown.
3 – Carson Wentz is looking like a rookie
First, the numbers: 27/42 (64.3% completion), 364 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, 64.5 passer rating.
Just a really bad start from Wentz. The rookie quarterback got picked off twice on his first three pass attempts due to high throws. These kind of accuracy issues were apparent with Wentz in training camp.
To Wentz’s credit, the rookie did rebound. He didn’t collapse and allow his mistakes to snowball into an irredeemable performance. But it’s hard to win when a quarterback puts your team in such a bad position like that to start the game.
4 – Doug Pederson aggression didn’t pay off
The fourth down decisions made by Pederson are a big topic of debate coming out of this game. Entering this week, the Eagles were five for five on fourth down attempts. The Eagles went one for four against New York, with two of the conversion attempts coming in field goal territory earlier in the game. In hindsight, had the Eagles went for both of those attempts and trusted the reliable Caleb Sturgis to make them, Philadelphia would have won the game by one point.
The feeling here is Pederson didn’t make the wrong decision to be aggressive in those situations. The Eagles had success on fourth down earlier in the year so Pederson had reason to feel confident. The team also needed touchdowns due to falling behind early in the game.
The only criticism for Pederson is his play call choice on the first fourth down attempt. Getting Wentz on the move with a power run to the left just didn’t seem like a great idea. Wentz hasn’t shown the kind of speed or elusiveness to make that a viable play.
Overall, it didn’t feel like a great game for Pederson. But it’s still hard to say he was the biggest issue in this one when Wentz starts the game with two interceptions and the defense blows multiple coverages. Speaking of the latter …
5 – Philadelphia’s cornerbacks are still a weakness
The Eagles’ secondary really struggled at times against New York. It wasn’t even just that they got outperformed by a superior group of receivers. The Eagles’ defensive backs blew coverages and left Giants receivers wide open to allow easy big plays for New York. Leodis McKelvin, who has been hampered by a season-long nagging hamstring injury, was exploited by Eli Manning several times. The Eagles really need more talent at corner moving forward.
In fairness to the defensive backs, they didn’t get enough help from the Eagles’ pass rush. Philadelphia only registered one sack against a New York offensive line that lost one of their best blockers, Justin Pugh, during the game. The Eagles’ secondary isn’t good enough to make up for a lackluster pass rush. Philadelphia invested a lot of money in their defensive line and it didn’t pay off in this game. Fletcher Cox, the $100 million dollar man, hasn’t had a sack since Week 5.
6 – Darren Sproles is the Eagles’ new lead running back
Pederson tried to downplay Sproles’ increased usage last week, but there’s no question he’s the Eagles’ lead back at this point. The 33-year-old veteran has logged 28 carries in the last two games. Former lead back Ryan Mathews, meanwhile, has only ran the ball nine times. Sproles has been a much more effective than the struggling Mathews, so it’s hard to blame the Eagles for leaning on the more productive option.
7 – The Eagles might have a new deep threat?
The Eagles might have a new deep threat! Bryce Treggs caught a 58-yard bomb in his NFL debut. Treggs’ big play ability could be a good sign for the offense moving forward. His presence could give Wentz a new weapon to work with. It could also cause defenses to respect his speed if he continues to show he can make plays down the field. If that’s the case, things could open up in the underneath passing game. But let’s not get too carried away.
Still, Treggs’ debut performance is encouraging. His 69-yard performance was a nice start to his career. He already has one more 69-plus yard performance than 2015 first round pick Nelson Agholor, who has played 20 more games than Treggs.
8 – The Vikings’ struggles are a silver lining for the Eagles
Minnesota lost their third straight game on Sunday, which means the Vikings are now 5-3. The Eagles aren’t in possession of their own 2017 first-round pick due to the Wentz trade but the Sam Bradford trade netted them the Vikings’ pick. More Minnesota losses means that pick is looking better with each passing Vikings loss. Maybe the Eagles will be able to get a good selection in the first round. The Birds desperately need to add more talent to their current roster.
9 – The Eagles’ schedule only gets more difficult
The Eagles have a tough stretch of games coming up. A look at their next four tilts:
Week 10 – home against Atlanta Falcons (6-3)
Week 11 – away at Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1)
Week 12 – home against Green Bay Packers (4-4)
Week 13 – away on a short week against the Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1)
The Falcons and Seahawks games appear to be the toughest on paper. The Seattle game could figure to be especially difficult given the Eagles’ struggles on the road this year.
The Eagles don’t play their NFC East rivals again until three out of the final four weeks of the season. If Philadelphia can’t stay alive over the next few weeks, those end of year games might not mean very much.