LAS VEGAS — The Eagles had 10 days to prepare for their Week 7 road matchup against the Raiders.
Turns out, the extra time didn’t mean much for the visitors, who were embarrassed in Sin City. The Eagles were on the wrong side of a 33-22 smashing Sunday. They return to Philadelphia with a 2-5 record.
Atrocious defensive effort vs. Raiders, Derek Carr
Throughout the season, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has struggled to make in-game adjustments against veteran quarterbacks. The Raiders’ Derek Carr was the latest example to carve through the Eagles.
Even without top tight end Darren Waller — who sat out with an ankle injury — Carr and the Raiders moved the ball at will versus Gannon’s defense. Carr repeatedly attacked the middle part of the field and stunned the Eagles linebackers with quick darts in the intermediate passing game.
“It wasn’t good enough execution, it wasn’t good enough play-calling,” first-year coach Nick Sirianni said. “We weren’t good enough. It starts with me. It wasn’t good enough and everybody else followed suit.”
Carr’s first-half stat line: 21-of-23 for 215 passing yards. One of his two incompletions was a tipped-ball interception by cornerback Avonte Maddox.
Gannon and Co. failed to make the proper adjustments at halftime. After the Eagles failed to convert a surprise onside kick, the Raiders quickly took advantage of the short field and put the game out of reach with Kenyon Drake’s 4-yard touchdown run.
Carr finished 31-for-34 for 323 yards and two touchdowns, setting a career-high for single-game completion percentage. Three incompletions for the pass defense doesn’t cut it by any standard in the NFL. It has become apparent that improving the defensive personnel needs to be a priority in the offseason. For now, more harsh conversations are bound to happen among Sirianni, Gannon and the rest of the coaching staff.
“We need to challenge more,” Sirianni said. “We have to call defenses that will allow our defenders to challenge more. Everybody’s got a piece of that. That’s defensive scheme and players, too. We’ve got to adapt. We’ve got to move. I don’t want to say we have to make a completely different philosophy switch. But we’ve got to do different things to help our players out, absolutely.”
Miles Sanders suffered an ankle injury and did not return.
On the sixth play of the second drive, Sanders took a dump-off from Hurts and was stopped behind the line of scrimmage by Raiders linebacker Denzell Perryman. For a moment, Sanders popped back up and appeared fine. But the third-year running back limped off and fell to the field before he could reach the sideline. After being checked out briefly inside the medical tent, Sanders was carted off to the locker room in tears and with a towel hanging over his head.
Sanders was initially ruled as “questionable” to return with an ankle injury. He was later downgraded to “out” at the beginning of the second half. Sanders finished with six carries for 30 yards and the one reception.
Other Eagles who were injured during the loss: wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside (back) and defensive lineman Milton Williams.
“I’ve got to get more information, he’s getting X-rays,” Sirianni said of Sanders. “I don’t think it was broken or anything like that. Obviously when you lose a good player like him, that’s tough. He was running the ball pretty well.”
NFL fans and pundits had crushed the Eagles for their refusal to incorporate the run game. Well, Sirianni finally showed some adjustments — at least initially.
The coach’s opening script called for five rushes from Sanders. Rookie tailback Kenneth Gainwell capped the eight-play opening drive with a 13-yard touchdown reception from Hurts.
The Eagles played from behind for three quarters, which meant more responsibility for Hurts in Sirianni’s offense that still has many question marks. Overall, Hurts struggled against a middle-of-the-pack Las Vegas defense.
Hurts finished 18-for-34 with 236 passing yards and two touchdowns. He also finished as the team’s leading rusher with 13 carries for 61 yards.
Hurts strung together most of his completions in the second half. But success was hard to come by for the second-year quarterback, who mishandled multiple snaps from center Jason Kelce. Hurts’ fumble that occurred inches away from the end zone in the third quarter cost the Eagles an opportunity at six points.
“I haven’t been doing a good enough job, clearly,” Hurts said. “We’ve been losing games. We believe in ourselves, we believe in our coaches, we believe in everything we have going on here in Philadelphia. It’s a matter of executing. It’s something we’ve yet to do on a consistent basis.”
The Eagles had a chance to tie the game before halftime, but they squandered the two-minute opportunity when Gainwell fumbled on the first play of the possession.
On replay, it appeared Gainwell’s knee was down before the ball was punched loose. But because the play was ruled a fumble on the field, it was tough for officials to overturn the call, especially considering the lack of quality camera angles. Following a lengthy review, the officials stuck with their original ruling. The Raiders scored three points off the turnover, took a 17-7 lead into halftime, and rode that momentum into the second half.