The Eagles lost their third straight game on Monday night, 23-17, to the Seattle Seahawks.
Here are five reasons for the defeat.
Add Darius Slay to the very long list of people in Philadelphia who think Howie Roseman should have his head examined for drafting JJ Arcega-Whiteside instead of DK Metcalf. Slay, who has, been pretty effective this season matching up against the other team’s top wideouts, had start-to-finish problems with Metcalf (10 catches for 177 yards and eight first downs).
He beat Slay on a pair of quick slants on Seattle’s first possession, and it was pretty much all downhill from there. Slay battled him, but Metcalf is a beast. A 6-foot-4, 225-pound beast with 4.3 speed.
Metcalf beat Slay on a post route for 52 yards early in the second quarter, which set up the Seahawks’ first TD. He helped set up their second TD when Slay got caught in traffic on a Metcalf crossing route that gained 17 yards. Had a 19-yard catch against Slay in the third quarter that helped set up the first of Jason Myers’ three field goals. Set up another Myers field goal with a 31-yard sideline catch over Slay on a fourth-quarter 50-50 ball.
Another late wakeup
The Eagles offense once again had trouble getting out of bed Monday night. If Doug Pederson is scripting his first 15 plays, the Eagles coach must be using a comedy writer to come up with them.
They had six points, seven first downs and 74 total yards against Seattle in the first half. They didn’t register their initial first down until their sixth possession, 25½ minutes into the game, when Carson Wentz ran for 20 yards on a second-and-16 play.
Wentz was 7-for-17 for just 30 yards and was sacked three times in the first half. This is nothing new. Wentz has thrown just two touchdown passes in the first quarter the entire season. He has a 71.8 first-half passer rating. In the Eagles’ last four games, he has a 52.5 completion percentage a 5.0 yards-per-attempt average in the first half.
The Eagles are 29th in first-half scoring with 94 points. Only the Patriots (89), Broncos (83) and 0-11 Jets (77) have scored fewer points in the first two quarters. The Eagles have scored just 33 points on their first two possessions this season, only 17 in the last eight games.
Doug’s fourth-down gambles
The Eagles have converted just 7-of-22 fourth-down chances. Their 31.8 fourth-down success rate is the fourth-worst in the league.
They were 0-for-3 on fourth down against Seattle. The last one, on a fourth-and-forever from their own 25 with just 2:21 left in the game and Seattle up 20-9, was insignificant. The other two weren’t.
Doug Pederson went for it on fourth-and-2 near midfield early in the fourth quarter, and again on their next possession on a fourth-and-4 at the Seattle 15 when a Jake Elliott field goal would have made it 20-12 with 8½ minutes left in the game.
This wasn’t a game In which Pederson couldn’t trust his defense. Jim Schwartz’s unit played their butts off. Even with Metcalf’s success, they held the Seahawks to 3.7 yards per play on first down, which was nearly three yards below their average. The Seahawks were 2-for-10 on third down and just 2-for-4 in the red zone.
The decisions to go for it on fourth down seemed to say more about Pederson’s lack of trust in Wentz and the offense. A lack of trust that was justified on the two fourth-down gambles.
On the fourth-and-2, Wentz had a short pass for tight end Richard Rodgers batted away at the line of scrimmage by the Seahawks’ K.J. Wright. On the fourth-and-4, a miscommunication between Wentz and tight end Dallas Goedert on a route they had run three previous times in the game resulted in Wentz’s second red-zone interception in as many games.
The Eagles trotted out the 10th different iteration of their injury-ravaged offensive line Monday night, and things went about like you’d expect.
Wentz was under pressure on 25 of his 55 drop backs and was sacked six more times, giving him a league-high 46. Take out Wentz’s 42 rushing yards and three rushing first downs, and the Eagles’ run game was pretty much non-existent. Miles Sanders had a season-low 15 yards on six carries, including four that gained one or fewer yards. The line struggled to defend Seattle’s blitzes. Right tackle Matt Pryor gave up two sacks and five pressures. Jason Peters’ first career start at right guard went no better than his previous starts at left tackle this season.
No help from the wideouts
One of the Eagles’ major offseason priorities was getting faster at wide receiver. Yet their wideouts had difficulty getting separation against one of the league’s poorest pass defenses Monday night. Their five wideouts – Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Alshon Jeffery, Greg Ward and John Hightower – were targeted 17 times and had a combined nine catches for just 46 yards.
Reagor, their first-round pick, the guy they took ahead of Justin Jefferson, had three catches for 11 yards. Travis Fulgham, who had 29 catches for 435 yards and four touchdowns in his first five games after getting promoted from the practice squad, has been targeted 14 times in the last three games and has just four catches for 32 yards, including two catches for 16 yards Monday.
Ward, who was Wentz’s go-to guy on third down, hasn’t had a third-down reception in the last two games and had just one catch for three yards against Seattle. Hightower, who had 50- and 59-yard catches against the Ravens and Giants in Weeks 6 and 7, had one catch for one yard against Seattle. And Alshon Jeffery has two catches for 15 yards in the three games he’s played since returning from injury.