In the space of one wild afternoon, Thursday night’s game in Green Bay has gone from a nice-to-have win to a must-win for the Eagles. At least that’s how it feels.
If the Eagles fell to 1-3, what would the best-case scenario for catching Dallas for the division championship? Cowboys are undefeated after beating Miami Sunday, and face New Orleans without Drew Brees next week.
It’s too early to be too pessimistic, but not as early as it was before Sunday’s loss.
If Carson Wentz wasn’t still nursing bruised ribs or some other malady coming out of the Atlanta game, it was curious the Eagles had three quarterbacks active for Sunday’s game against the Lions. Short at so many positions because of other injuries, having three quarterbacks available if the starter was perfectly fine didn’t necessarily add up.
In any case, after Jason Peters and Andre Dillard suffered first-half injuries on the offensive line, Matt Pryor was the only backup available. Not saying that rookie guard Nate Herbig would have been an effective option, but the Eagles were perilously close to being without a reserve on the line.
Learning from the Atlanta game, however, the Eagles did have third tight end Alex Ellis activated, which proved a useful thing after Dallas Goedert was unable to go in the first half. Ellis lined up as the fullback in Jordan Howard’s first-quarter touchdown plunge over the right side.
Say what you will about defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Nothing much scares him. The Atlanta game ended with a blitz gone badly awry that ended in a game-winning touchdown for Julio Jones.
So, how does Schwartz begin the very next game? That’s right, with a blitz, even though Schwartz traditionally tries to avoid them. But he sent Malcolm Jenkins on the first offensive play from scrimmage for the Lions.
Schwartz coached against type a number of times on Sunday. He put three linebackers on the field in obvious passing downs, and used a nickel package that had three safeties and two cornerbacks at times. Maybe that was a result of the gimpy status of Ronald Darby, who wasn’t able to play after halftime. Maybe it was a growing confidence in Andrew Sendejo, the third safety. Maybe it was just Schwartz being Schwartz.
What is the point of reviewing any call by replay if officials can still miss something as egregious as the first-half kickoff return in which Miles Sanders had his helmet ripped off by a Detroit coverage man? Clearly grabbed by the mask, Sanders was lucky he didn’t suffer a neck injury on the play. Seriously, there should be someone in the booth saying, “Fellas, we’ve got to fix that one.”