This is an odd loss to process for the Eagles. There were almost more positives then there were negatives in the game. They stood toe to toe with one of the leagues best teams. So where were the biggest bright spots and problems?
Jim Schwartz: Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim. What are you doing, man? I just don’t understand his allegiance to certain players and his evaluations of talent. Why would you put Nate Gerry in a situation where he is going to fail? Grant it, he fails in most situations, but at least give the guy a fighting chance. Even if Gerry “isn’t lined up in man coverage” with Claypoole, why are you even giving Big Ben the look that he may be? Big Ben hasn’t won two Super Bowls by not being able to read a defense. I’m VERY confident that any quarterback in the NFL would have looked at that coverage and checked to a go route for Claypoole. Why don’t you have more DB’s on the field when the Steelers are 5 wide? I for one believe it’s because the talent evaluation of the defensive secondary was shit. We let Rasul Douglas go for nothing. Douglas was a guy who got beat while he was here. However, Douglas was a guy who still went out there and played hard and made plays. We have Sidney Jones making plays for the Jaguars. How does Howie determine that we would rather let cornerbacks walk away for free, while leaving Gerry on the field in key moments against speed receivers. It’s extremely frustrating that this team refuses to put themselves in situations where you can have good depth at a position. I know this is me Monday morning quarterbacking the organization, but I think a fair weather fan could see that you would rather have an average cornerback on a wide receiver in that spot.
Clock Management: This comes down to coaching. How do you not have your offensive players ready to get out of bounds with no timeouts? Now, the players aren’t innocent in this either. Hightower HAS to know that he needs to go out of bounds to preserve the clock. It’s something that should’ve been shoved down his throat from mini camp and every week in practice. That then left the team in the undesirable position of having to either go deep or challenge the Steelers who were smartly playing their defense near their 40 yard line to avoid a potential field goal at the end of the half. Instead we have a Carson bomb to Arcega Whiteside. JJAW proceeds to finally catch a pass, celebrate and watch the clock run out. The second round pick was so ecstatic to see a ball in his hands that he had to celebrate. Now they probably wouldn’t have gotten the ball clocked anyway, but when you’re JJAW in this city, maybe you should just stand up and run the ball to the middle of the field. Celebrate when you play like a second round draft pick more often.
Zach Ertz: Ertz has been a staple of this franchise since being drafted here. He has been one of the best pass catchers to wear an Eagles uniform and is a huge reason we have a Super Bowl title. The problem is that we need that Zach Ertz again. He looks disinterested in what he is doing. It truly appears that he has let the contract situation get to his head to the point where it’s showing on the field. If you want that Kelce/Kittle money, then you have to play like Kelce and Kittle. That’s just a fact. I wouldn’t be disappointed in him if he lost a step due to age. I don’t think that’s the case. He just looks like he is going through the motions and doesn’t want to be apart of this team going forward. He is largely responsible for the first Wentz interception because he stopped running his route after being bumped. Unfortunately for him, the Eagles have a capable replaced in Dallas Goedert when he is healthy and returns. The coaching staff needs to do something to get Ertz back on board without financially dedicating more to him when it isn’t deserved.
Now for the positive moments
Travis Fulgham: Jason Kelce said “hungry dogs run faster.” Travis Fulgham epitomizes that statement. He is a player who has gotten little respect in every aspect of his football career. For two weeks now, he has groomed himself into being Wentz’ favorite target. He runs sharp routes, catches the ball and makes moves to get loose from defenders. Honestly when is the last time we had that at the receiver position? Jeremy Maclin? I really don’t think this is a flash in the pan type player. He does so many things well on the field that are going to continually earn him the trust of Carson. Pairing him up with the dependable Greg Ward has helped bring Carson back around. I’m excited to see him continue to grow and help other guys get opportunities to make plays because the defenses are going to have to account for him.
Carson Wentz: As bad as his stat lines still read, it is evident that Carson is playing well right now. His first pick wasn’t on him. His second pick was more of a punt/desperation moment in the game. The good news is he is looking more and more comfortable with these pass catchers. You can tell that he has more trust in the young, hungry players than the perceived stars at the receiver spots.
Miles Sanders: Doug needs to have the ball in his hands more. Plain and simple. The 74 yard dash for a touchdown is something that an elite back does. He is their most skilled position player when the ball is in his hands. Treat him like a bell cow back because thats what he is.
Defensive Line: They caused big problems for the Steelers offensive line yesterday. Besides their over penetration on reverse plays, they played a solid game. Barnett and Avery have been their best pass rushers at times. They are the best unit on this team and will need them in a huge way against the Ravens.
A meeting with the second best team in football is on the horizon. If Jim Schwartz wants to shake off this horrendous game he called, he has the opportunity to slow down the most athletic player in football next week. If the Birds can pull off the big upset next week, they will find themselves in a prime position to control this dumpster fire of a division.