Eagles-Bengals Final Score: Nine Things We Learned From Philadelphia’s Loss
The Philadelphia Eagles are now 5-7 after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday by a final score of 32 to 14. Here’s a look at the things to be learned from this game.
1 – The Eagles don’t seem to be headed in the right direction
Following the Eagles’ loss to the Packers, Doug Pederson talked about how he feels the Eagles are still headed in the right direction despite their recent struggles.
It’s hard to agree with Pederson’s assessment.
The Eagles just got their asses kicked by a 3-7-1 Bengals team that isn’t any good. Cincinnati was missing two of their best offensive players.
It’s only fair to point out the Eagles were missing a number of key players too (Jordan Matthews, Ryan Mathews, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, etc.). But the lack of talent wasn’t the only issue on Sunday.
In a must-win game, the Eagles didn’t show great effort. Quite frankly, it seemed like they quit until they were able to make some plays in garbage time. That’s better than nothing, I suppose, but the adequate effort wasn’t there when the game still mattered.
Just a brutal loss for the Birds.
2 – Doug Pederson’s effectiveness is in question
Pederson can only work with the talent he’s got, which admittedly isn’t very much. But a lack of talent doesn’t excuse a lack of effort. It’s ultimately Pederson’s job to get his guys motivated, and that didn’t appear to be the case on Sunday.
It’s not just one bad game, either. The Eagles have been beaten soundly for the third game in a row now. They’ve played some real ugly, undisciplined, and uninspired football. And it’s not just the recent losing streak that’s been a problem. Philadelphia has continually struggled to get off to fast starts on the road all season.
There was serious skepticism about Pederson’s coaching ability heading into this season. He originally quelled those concerns by getting off to a great start while looking like a Coach of the Year candidate. But as questions about Pederson’s effectiveness start to rise, it’s difficult not to think back to how the Eagles’ hiring process was so flawed. Maybe Pederson’s struggles indicate why there was a seeming lack of interest around him in the NFL. And why he appeared to be one of the Eagles’ last options in the search.
The belief here is that it’s probably too soon to fire Pederson. He’s shown some positive signs this season with regard to creative play-calling. And yeah, he’d probably look better if he was given more talent to work with.
But if the Eagles continue to look like a team that has given up over the final four games of the season, Pederson’s job doesn’t deserve to be safe. It’s very hard to justify keeping a coach around when the players have quit on him.
3 – Jim Schwartz won’t be getting a head coaching job soon
Here’s a look at how the Bengals’ first six drives ended.
1st – Field goal
2nd – Touchdown
3rd – Field goal
4th – Touchdown
5th – Touchdown
6th – Field goal
That’s just not good enough.
Six days after getting ripped to shreds by Aaron Rodgers, the Eagles’ defense made Andy Dalton look like Andy Rodgers. Cincinnati’s quarterback finished the game completing 74.2 of his passes for 332 yards, two touchdowns, and a 130.0 passer rating.
The Bengals were only averaging 15.3 points per game in their last three outings. The Eagles allowed them to drop 32 on Sunday. And again, Cincinnati was missing two of their best offensive players.
The defense was supposed to be the strength of this team and it hasn’t been lately. Schwartz deserves some of the blame. Receivers running wide open, dumb penalties, etc. Not good enough.
4 – Carson Wentz turned in a terrible game
Really bad game for the Eagles’ rookie quarterback. The usual disclaimer exists here: Wentz has no weapons to work with and his offensive line situation is far from ideal.
Still, Wentz made a lot of bad throws in this game. He was picked off three times and he had at least three more interceptions dropped. Wentz is still struggling with passes that sail too high. One such pass resulted in an interception deep down the field. Another one went over the head of a wide open Dorial Green-Beckham along the sideline for a potential big gain.
Wentz isn’t handling pressure well. According to Pro Football Focus, he had a paltry 25.2 passer rating when pressured against the Bengals. Since Week 6, he has a 13.2 passer rating when under pressure.
Another issue with Wentz is that he has way too many passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. He had six such instances against the Bengals, which is more than 15 quarterbacks have all season long (per PFF). Wentz’s final interception throw directly to Vontaze Burfict at the line of scrimmage was very bad.
With each passing week, it’s become more and more clear why the Eagles wanted to hold off on playing Wentz this season. The rookie has some serious growing to do.
5 – The Eagles’ pass rush continues to come up small
Let’s not beat around the bush: one sack in the last three games. And that “sack” was for no gain on a Russell Wilson scrambling attempt.
People often like to criticize the Eagles’ cornerbacks. The criticism is well-warranted at times and there’s no question the Birds could use upgrades at that position.
But don’t let the Eagles’ pass rush off the hook. They’re the ones getting paid the big bucks. The Eagles have invested a lot of money in their defensive line. Fletcher Cox signed a deal worth over $100 million. Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, and Vinny Curry are all being paid starters money. Graham and Cox are having good seasons, but this group as a whole just isn’t coming up big enough lately.
The pass rush stinks and the rest of the defense has suffered as a result.
6 – The Eagles’ running game is abysmal
Ready for one of the most pathetic stats of the day?
The Bengals were allowing an average of 120.5 rush yards per game. That was the fifth most of any team in the NFL.
So how did the Eagles’ running backs finish against Cincinnati? 33 yards on 15 attempts. That’s 2.2 yards per carry. That’s very bad.
One could argue the Eagles should have ran the ball more, but they had every reason to get away from the run. They fell behind and the rush attack just wasn’t working.
7 – Paul Turner is a Future Hall of Famer
OK, so maybe I’m jumping the gun here. But seriously, Turner turned in a nice performance during the second game of his career. He finished the game with six receptions for 80 yards, including a long reception of 41. Turner showed good promise in the preseason, so maybe there’s hope for him being a decent receiving option. Given the Eagles’ dearth of talent at the position, Turner’s progress is a small bright spot in an otherwise miserable game for Philadelphia.
8 – Nelson Agholor showed some progress
Agholor deserves some credit for catching everything thrown at him and not making any big mistakes. Perhaps the week off really did him some good.
With that said, he still has a long way to go. He still only had four receptions for 23 yards. The fact that people are encouraged by this outing from his tells you everything you need to know about his career to this point. Also, there’s this:
Paul Turner = 80 yards in his second career game.
Bryce Treggs = 69 yards in his first game.
Nelson Agholor’s career high = 64 yards.
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 4, 2016
9 – The Eagles won’t make the playoffs, but the final four games still matter
Yeah, the Eagles aren’t making the playoffs. They haven’t been mathematically eliminated yet, but it’s apparent it’s not going to happen. Their hopes were slim heading into this game and they lost, so it’s virtually over for them.
That doesn’t mean it’s time for the team to pack it in. Just the opposite, really. Pederson needs to prove he can motivate his guys. If the team finishes the season without showing any fight or effort, his job deserves to be in jeopardy.
It’s worth remembering there’s no reason for the Eagles to tank their final games. They don’t own their own 2017 first-round pick due to the Wentz trade, so they might as well just try to win these games and hand some losses to their division rivals.