Carson Wentz was less than good again. Joe Ostman will be seeing Nick Chubb in his nightmares. Doug Pederson stopped running the ball again. The defense saved its worst moment for the worst time. There were mistakes. There was a Miles Sanders fumble inside the 5-yard line. There was a Wentz interception that was returned for a touchdown. There was another in the red zone. There were penalties. These are the 2020 Eagles. Get used to it. Here are a few observations from their 22-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Wentz’s regression from a franchise quarterback into a liability that Pederson must coach around, and refuses to coach around, continued Sunday. He threw for 235 yards, was intercepted twice, seemed fearful of trusting his wide receivers through the first three quarters of the game, and showed no sense of when to throw the ball away or avoid a pass rush. The Eagles have a problem here at football’s most important position, and they’re not going to solve it merely by surrounding Wentz with better skill-position players and offensive linemen. They need to change their coaching methods, their offensive strategy, and maybe their quarterback, for at least a little while.
There’s nothing for the Eagles to gain anymore by continuing to play Jason Peters regularly at left tackle. He left Sunday’s game briefly in the first quarter, then allowed a 10-yard sack by Browns defensive end Adrian Clayborn in the second quarter, then allowed Olivier Vernon’s sack for a safety late in the third quarter, then finally went to the sideline and stayed there late in the fourth quarter. Peters was a great player and likely will be a Hall of Famer someday, but he has been in decline for years now. He just doesn’t hold up well enough in pass protection anymore, and he proved it again Sunday.
More importantly, Jordan Mailata held his own at left tackle earlier this season, and it’s nonsensical for the Eagles to keep using Peters when they can and should develop Mailata. Already, he’s the better option at the position. The Eagles’ continued deference to Peters isn’t helping them, and it isn’t helping Mailata.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, a Philly native and an alumnus of St. Joe’s Prep and Penn, showed off his play-calling and play-design skills Sunday. Baker Mayfield had receivers running free on several occasions, and his overthrow of tight end Austin Hooper, wide open in the end zone late in the first quarter, cost Cleveland a touchdown. As it was, Mayfield was able to hit Rashard Higgins and KhaDarel Hodge on pass plays of 40-plus yards.
… that Wentz didn’t target Travis Fulgham until less than nine minutes were left in the third quarter? And that he didn’t target Alshon Jeffery until two plays later?