Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Eagles-Chiefs analysis: Red-zone offense comes up short, passing defense gets torched in loss to Kansas City

A lot went wrong for the Birds, who fell to 1-3 on the season. Here’s our instant analysis:

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni reacts to Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) touchdown not counting Sunday, October 3, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni reacts to Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) touchdown not counting Sunday, October 3, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Well, that went about as expected.

The Eagles lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 42-30, at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday in a game defined by Kansas City’s passing attack and red-zone defense.

A lot went wrong for the Birds, who fell to 1-3 on the season. Here’s our instant analysis:

Seeing red in the zone

The Eagles’ red-zone offense was bad. The team was competitive early, but a few questionable coaching decisions and penalties doomed the offense.

The most notable one came on the opening drive, where Eagles coach Nick Sirianni called a timeout on a fourth-and-3 at the Chiefs’ 11-yard line. After the game, Jalen Hurts and Sirianni explained the context surrounding the decision. The indication, based on their recounts, is that Sirianni intended to go for it, but said he got the call in later than he should have. To avoid a delay of game, Hurts called timeout. But Sirianni didn’t know whether they avoided a delay of game penalty and decided to send the field goal unit out.

Hurts said the crowd noise played into him not being able to tell Sirianni he’d used a timeout before a penalty was called.

“I was trying to get the ball snapped,” Hurts said. “We ran out of time, so I ended up using a timeout. ... It was an assumed delay of game, [whether] we probably would’ve went for it or probably wouldn’t have, it happened the way it happened.”

Sirianni added, “I didn’t get the call in quick enough and once we got to that, I thought it was important that we got points on the board at that particular time. I thought it would be too much of a momentum swing if they stopped us on fourth-and-3, so I decided to kick the field goal.”

A few play-calls from Sirianni in red-zone situations were head-scratchers as well. The coach called a swing pass to Miles Sanders near the end zone in the second quarter that the Chiefs snuffed out. On a pivotal third-and-goal in the third quarter, Sirianni had Dallas Goedert stay in as a pass protector instead of using him as a red-zone threat.

Against a team that scores like the Chiefs, field goals and turnovers on downs just don’t cut it.

On the bright side ...

The Eagles’ red-zone offensive struggles were glaring because the team did sustain a handful of drives to that part of the field.

A week after calling a heavy dose of shot plays and dropping Hurts back to pass more than 40 times, Sirianni returned to the quick-strike passing game that worked so well for the team against the Falcons.

The scoring production wasn’t there, but the RPO-heavy scheme worked much better and kept the Eagles in the game until the fourth-quarter onslaught came. Hurts looked much more comfortable early on, taking underneath stuff and making quick decisions based on simplified reads.

After much was made about the Eagles’ lack of pre-snap motion, the team used plenty of it on the opening drive with success. The run-pass ratio was also more balanced, with Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell combining for nine carries compared to three last week.

Kansas City’s defense might be its Achilles’ heel this season, but it was still encouraging for the Eagles to see them rebound from last Monday’s woes.

In their defense ...

There aren’t many defenses that can match up with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce, but the Eagles’ defensive performance was concerning for the second week in a row.

For the first time in 55 years, the Eagles’ defense gave up 40-plus points in consecutive weeks. Kansas City didn’t have a single punt.

The soft zone coverage that first-year defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has relied heavily upon so far this season backfired yet again. The Eagles used their two-deep-safety look for most of the game and the Chiefs ran the ball extremely well, with Mahomes dicing up the secondary when necessary.

Hill finished with two touchdowns, including a first-quarter score where Eric Wilson was tasked with staying in front of the speedy receiver. Wilson may have been lauded for his coverage ability coming into the season, but that matchup is one Gannon should want to avoid.

Unforced errors

Penalties and miscues doomed the Eagles once again Sunday.

On three different occasions, the Eagles had touchdowns wiped off the board because of a variety of penalties. Andre Dillard was called for being downfield on a scoring play in the second quarter, JJ Arcega-Whiteside had an offensive pass interference call nullify a touchdown in the third, and DeVonta Smith cost himself a touchdown catch by stepping out of bounds on the route and getting called for illegal touching.

The Eagles, who led the league in penalties going into the game, had nine penalties Sunday.

The season is still young, but it’s safe to say this Eagles team looks like an undisciplined bunch so far.

Offensive line depth passes the test

Veteran right tackle Lane Johnson was a late scratch because of a personal matter, the team said before the game.

Johnson was a surprise addition to the inactives list released 90 minutes before kickoff, forcing the team to move Jack Driscoll to right tackle and put Nate Herbig at right guard. Driscoll, who played exclusively at right tackle last season, was set to play right guard for the first time all season and spent the week practicing inside.

After the game, Sirianni credited offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen for getting the group ready to play. He also declined to get into details about whether Johnson was with the team at any point on Sunday.

“I’m not going to discuss anything about Lane,” Sirianni said. “Just a personal situation. I’m just not going to discuss that right now.

“I found out a couple hours before the game,” he added. “I think Jeff Stoutland and Shane Steichen did a phenomenal job getting everybody ready to go. ... I thought the offensive line battled. I thought they played really well. That’s just a tribute to Coach Stout of how good of a football coach he is.”

With Johnson out of the lineup, Jason Kelce was the lone Week 1 starter on the offensive line against the Chiefs. Dillard filled in for Jordan Mailata at left tackle, Landon Dickerson took over for Isaac Seumalo at left guard, and Herbig took Brandon Brooks’ spot.

Given the inexperience and the late shakeup, the Eagles’ offensive line played relatively well.