Doug Pederson’s Philadelphia Eagles dropped to 4-4 on Sunday following a 28-23 loss to the New York Giants. Philadelphia never gained control of the game, despite having several attempts at a comeback in the second half. Pederson elected to go for it on fourth down twice in the first half when the Eagles were in Caleb Sturgis field goal range.
Both times, the Eagles failed to convert. However, that was not the reason the Eagles lost this game. The Eagles lost because they were outplayed and outcoached, and the team’s talent flaws, combined with Pederson and Carson Wentz’s growing pains in their rookie seasons, showed.
Eagles start slow
The first half did not go as planned for the Eagles. After forcing the Giants to punt on their first possession, Carson Wentz threw one of his worst passes of the season, overthrowing Nelson Agholor and getting picked off by Giants safety Landon Collins.
Two plays later, Eli Manning hit Odell Beckham Jr. on a slant route for a 26-yard touchdown, giving the Giants the first points of the game. Wentz’s ugly start continued on the next drive, as he threw his second interception in just two possessions.Wentz forced a pass into double coverage, and Giants’ safety Andrew Adams had the pass read.
It only took Manning three plays to find Roger Lewis wide open in the end zone for the 30-yard touchdown. Eagles’ safety Jaylen Watkins bumped into corner Leodis McKelvin, who was covering Lewis on the outside, allowing Lewis to walk into the end zone uncovered, putting the Giants up by fourteen.
Earlier in the week, the Eagles activated receiver Bryce Treggs from the practice squad in lieu of Josh Huff, and Treggs made his presence known, reeling in a 58-yard pass from Wentz which set up a Ryan Mathews touchdown two plays later.
Towards the end of second quarter, the Eagles attempted to cut the Giants eight-point lead with a Caleb Sturgis field goal, but the field goal was blocked by Jason Pierre-Paul, and the Eagles were forced to take a 21-10 deficit into the half.
Second-half comeback is not enough
The Eagles offense clicked on its opening drive to start the second half, scoring on a Kenjon Barner three-yard rush. Manning and the Giants answered on their next possession. Sterling Shepard caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Manning, extending the Giants lead to nine points.
After a sloppy first half with blown coverages, Jim Schwartz’s defense forced two Manning interceptions to put the Eagles in position to take the lead. Pederson’s offense was unable to take advantage of the Giants’ mistakes.
Sturgis connected on two more field goals in the fourth quarter, but they were not enough for the Eagles. Jordan Hicks picked off Manning with 1:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Eagles, who were down 28-23, had a chance to win the game at the Giants own 17-yardline. On fourth and 10, Wentz threw a fade to Jordan Matthews in the end zone. The pass fell incomplete, securing another late-game loss for the Eagles.
- Defense stepped up in second half, but continued their trend of not playing a complete game. Since the Eagles bye week, Jim Schwartz’s defense has only played well in both halves against the Minnesota Vikings. In the first half against the Giants, Eli Manning had his way with the Eagles secondary, and moved the ball down the field with ease. The Eagles have to do a better job going forward of maintaining strong play throughout an entire game, especially with the Atlanta Falcons’ high-powered offense coming to Philadelphia next week.
- Pederson and Wentz are going through growing pains. Starting 3-0 and having a week four bye was the worst situation for the rookie head coach and quarterback. Of course, the three wins were impressive, but once the Eagles rolled the Steelers, Philadelphia began thinking big, despite have clear depth issues at the wide receiver, defensive back, and offensive line positions. The Eagles are not ready to contend in the playoffs, and they never were. Yes, the Eagles have had games they lost where they should have won. However, going into the season, no one expected this Eagles team to be good because of talent flaws. The 3-0 start by Philadelphia masked concerns with the Eagles.
- The season is not over yet, but at 4-4, it will be tough for the Eagles to make playoff noise with an 0-3 record in the division. Pederson must put together better offensive game plans. That last play for the Eagles on Sunday was a poor design. With the game on the line, the final play call should not be a back-shoulder fade.