Eagles vs. Redskins Final Score: 11 Things We Learned From Philadelphia’s Loss
The Philadelphia Eagles are now 5-8 after losing to the Washington Redskins on Sunday by a final score of 27 to 22. Here’s a look at the things to be learned from this game.
1 – The Eagles didn’t lose due to a lack of effort
The Eagles’ effort was fairly drawn into question last week as Philadelphia got down 29-0 to a 3-7-1 Bengals team during a must-win game. The Eagles may not have won this week, but their failure can’t be attributed to a lack of effort.
The Eagles showing fight is a good sign for Doug Pederson. Last week, there was concern that the players stopped playing hard for their coach. This week, the Eagles made it clear they wanted to win. They were right in this game until the end. Philadelphia edged out Washington in total first downs, passing first downs, third down efficiency, total net yards, total offensive plays, net yards passing, and time of possession.
Moral victories won’t placate the fans. A loss is ultimately a loss. With that said, this game had the potential to be a lot uglier than it ended up being for the Birds.
The Eagles losing due to a lack of effort is unacceptable. The Eagles losing due to a lack of talent is an unfortunate reality.
2 – Missed opportunities proved costly yet again
Again, the Eagles were very close to winning this game. One can pick from a handful of plays that would have changed the game had they gone in Philadelphia’s favor. Jordan Matthews failing to drag his toe in the end zone and forcing the Eagles to settle for three points. Carson Wentz dodging a sack, rolling to his left, and airing out a deep throw to a wide open Trey Burton that fell just short of the tight end. Zach Ertz getting called for a block in the back on Darren Sproles‘ punt return for a touchdown. Brent Celek doing a terrible job of long snapping while filling in for Jon Dorenbos during a field goal attempt. And so on.
The story of the Eagles coming close but not being able to win is not new. It’s been a theme present throughout most games this season, especially the division contests. The Eagles simply don’t have the talent to avoid these mistakes and/or overcome them.
3 – Carson Wentz played better than the numbers show
Wentz’s final stat line against Washington: 32/46 (69.6%), 314 yards (6.8 yards per attempt), 1 TD, 1 INT, 86.7 passer rating.
The numbers would suggest Wentz had a decent game, but turn on the tape and it’s clear Wentz had a very strong outing. The rookie quarterback was nearly perfect for most of the game save for a miscommunication in the end zone with Ertz that resulted in a pick. That play wouldn’t have even happened, though, if Matthews found a way to drag his foot in the end zone. Wentz threw an absolute dime to Matthews in the back corner of the end zone on that play.
Sunday’s performance by Wentz was a good rebound effort after throwing three interceptions against the Bengals last week. Pederson said this game was probably Wentz’s best of the season, and it’s hard to disagree.
But wait, didn’t Wentz fumble on the Eagles’ final play? Yes, but it’s impossible to fault the rookie passer when he had to deal with Ryan Kerrigan right in his face after Matt Tobin failed to block him. Wentz did an outstanding job of avoiding pressure and making plays out of nothing a number of times during the game. This Eagles loss isn’t on him.
4 – The Eagles had to deal with a bunch of injuries
For the second time in three weeks, starting right guard Brandon Brooks was a surprise inactive for the Birds. The Eagles were forced to use the following offensive line configuration:
Jason Peters – Turns 35 in one month
Stefen Wisniewski – Backup interior lineman playing on a one-year deal
Jason Kelce – Inconsistent performances all season
Isaac Seumalo – Rookie third string guard
Allen Barbre – The team’s starting left guard
As if things couldn’t get worse, Barbre had to leave the game due to injury. Tobin replaced him and the results weren’t pretty. Tobin gave up the game-ending sack to Kerrigan on Wentz.
The offensive line wasn’t the only unit dealing with injury issues. The Eagles lost starting long snapper Jon Dorenbos. He was replaced by Celek, who also ended up getting hurt. The Eagles counted on Trey Burton as their third string long snapper and the tight end did a good enough job to help the Eagles convert on 41-yard field goal. Kudos to Donnie Jones for handling the high snap.
The running back situation was also tenuous. Ryan Mathews managed to stay healthy in first game back from injury, but the Eagles lost Wendell Smallwood earlier in the game. Sproles also got knocked out after taking that big hit (more on that later).
Giving Wentz slack for his poor supporting cast has been a common theme throughout the season, but that sentiment was especially true today. And he still performed well despite working behind a patchwork offensive line and not having a great rushing attack to work with. Philadelphia ended up running the ball 26 times for 95 yards (3.7 average).
5 – Lane Johnson deserves some blame in this loss
Johnson’s suspension is hardly the only reason the Eagles have struggled this season, but there’s no denying the Eagles’ offense played a lot better with him than it has without him.
Johnson’s absence was especially felt on Sunday. The Eagles were down to their fourth string right tackle in Tobin due to Halapoulivaati Vaitai being injured and Barbre having to leave the game. Washington sacked Wentz four times and hit him 10 more times on top of that.
The Eagles have every right to be disappointed in Johnson, who is set to return in Week 16. His big mistake really hurt the team now and moving forward. It’s hard to forget that Johnson is only one more PEDs suspension from being ruled out for two entire seasons.
6 – Zach Ertz played with something to prove
Ertz has taken a lot of much-deserved criticism this season. His non-block on Vontaze Burfict last week, combined with his penchant to not fight for yards after the catch, drew his toughness into question.
On Sunday, however, Ertz played with something to prove. On the first offensive play of the game, Ertz caught a pass and did his best to make a defender miss. He didn’t succeed, but the effort was clearly there. Later in the game, Ertz had an opportunity to run out of bounds after making a catch but instead he turned up field and ran into some defenders. Credit to Ertz for looking to prove his doubters wrong.
Ertz finished the game with 10 receptions for 112 yards (11.2 average). He always seems to save his best football for December.
7 – Washington owns the Eagles
The Eagles still haven’t beaten Washington since Week 3 of the 2014 season. Depending on how the Eagles’ schedule shapes up next season, there’s a realistic change the Birds will go three full calendar years without beating Washington.
Kirk Cousins also continued his success against the Birds. His updated stat line against Philadelphia: 124 of 195 (63.6%) for 1,579 yards, 12 TD, 3 INT, 102.9 passer rating.
8 – DeSean Jackson is still troublesome as ever
Jackson only had three catches against the Eagles, but his longest reception of the game was very big for Washington. Jackson torched Philadelphia’s defense for a 80-yard touchdown reception. The Eagles have struggled to defend Jackson ever since the team cut him in 2014.
It’s quite possible the Eagles have faced Jackson for the last time. The team is reportedly interested in signing him this offseason and Jackson reportedly has mutual interest in returning to Philadelphia. The Eagles desperately need help at receiver, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see it happen.
9 – The dude who hit Darren Sproles deserves to be disciplined
Deshazor Everett really deserved to be ejected for his dirty hit on Sproles. There’s no place for this in the game. Sproles could have been (and actually might be) seriously hurt.
Nobody should be hitting Darren Sproles like this pic.twitter.com/dauxHax0SF
— Vikings Blogger (@firstandskol) December 11, 2016
After the game, Everett seemed to regret the play. Still, that’s not good enough. The NFL can’t allow something like this to happen without any serious punishment for it.
And it’s not even like Everett’s hit was his only dirty play of the game. He also got flagged for a hit on Celek that knocked the veteran tight end out of the game.
Less than two minutes before Deshazor Everett took Darren Sproles out of the game, he injured Brent Celek on a helmet-to-helmet hit. pic.twitter.com/vcCwUyTC2i
— Josh Paunil (@JoshPaunil) December 11, 2016
Everett will receive a fine this week. He also deserves a suspension, though the feeling here is that won’t likely happen.
10 – Sam Bradford didn’t help Philadelphia
Sammy Sleeves and the Vikings beat the Jaguars on Sunday, so Minnesota’s 2017 first-round draft pick got a little less favorable for the Eagles. The good news for the Birds is that the Lions won so it’s unlikely Minnesota will be able to win the NFC North. From here on out Philadelphia fans should really be rooting that the Vikings don’t make the playoffs as a wild card seed.
11 – The Eagles have been virtually eliminated from the playoffs (again)
The Eagles only had a 5.5% chance of making the playoffs headed into Sunday’s tilt. The Birds haven’t been mathematically eliminated yet, but they might as well be. The best the Eagles can get to this season is 8-8.
Philadelphia still has three games left this season. There’s not a ton left to play for, but it’s not like winning games will ruin the Eagles’ draft pick since they owe it Cleveland anyway. The Birds might as well continue to try their best while finding ways to work in some of the younger guys.