As Doug Pederson correctly pointed out Monday during his virtual autopsy of the Eagles’ 30-16 loss to the Packers, there’s plenty of blame to go around. It doesn’t start or end with Carson Wentz. But here are five pretty good reasons:
The third-down sacks
Two more Sunday, one late in the first quarter on a third-and-11 at the Green Bay 33 and another early in the second quarter on a third-and-7 at their own 24. Twenty of Carson Wentz’s NFL-high 50 sacks have been on third down, including nine in the last three games. He’s been sacked on one out of every 5.9 third-down pass plays this season.
For just the fourth time this season, the Eagles scored on their first possession, getting a 52-yard field goal from Jake Elliott after a drive stalled on the Packers’ 35. They drove from their own 38 to the Packers’ 30 on their second possession. At the very least, Elliott should have had another field goal opportunity.
But Wentz was sacked on back-to-back plays. On the third-down sack, Wentz had 3.75 seconds to throw, which is plenty of time to get the ball out, either to a receiver or a throwaway. But his eyes dropped too quickly from his receivers to the pressure, and he stepped right into a sack even though he had escape routes both inside and outside.
Trailing 7-3 with 5:40 left in the second quarter, the Packers brought safety Raven Greene on a third-and-7 blitz. Left guard Isaac Seumalo failed to stop Greene. Wentz again had an escape route to extend the play, this one to the left. But like somebody trapped inside a burning building who can’t find an exit, he failed to take it. The Eagles were forced to punt and the Packers drove down and scored to go up 14-3. While we’re on the subject of Seumalo, he also had a costly, albeit questionable, holding penalty in the third quarter that negated a 28-yard run by Boston Scott that would have given the Eagles a first down at the Green Bay 9 when they were down 20-3.
The Eagles acquired Darius Slay for days like Sunday. They acquired him to cover the other team’s top wide receiver and neutralize him. But a week after giving up the bulk of DK Metcalf’s 177 receiving yards in their loss to Seattle, Slay had another tough day trying to cover the Packers’ Davante Adams, who finished with 10 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Slay didn’t give up all of those catches and yards, but both of Adams’ touchdowns definitely were on him.
Slay went into the game with a calf injury that he initially suffered against Seattle. At some point Sunday, he also injured a knee. It seemed evident that something was wrong with Slay on Adams’ second touchdown, a 9-yarder off a quick pass on which Slay failed to come up and allowed Adams to be the aggressor -- and get away with an uncalled facemask penalty – on his way into the end zone. Slay left the game for good on the Packers’ next possession.
The back-breaking run
The Packers ran for 149 yards on 25 carries Sunday. Seventy-seven of those yards came on one carry – Aaron Jones’ game-clinching touchdown run with 2:36 left.
Many Eagles defensive players will look at the numbers today and tell you that if you took away the 77-yard run, they held the Packers to 3.0 yards per carry. But you can’t take out the 77-yard run, just like you can’t take out the seven other 30-plus-yard runs the Eagles have given up this season. Those eight 30-plus-yard runs, four of which have gone for touchdowns, are the most in the league.
Sunday’s was a killer. After spotting the Packers a 20-point lead, the Eagles made it a one-score game on Jalen Reagor’s 73-yard punt return for a touchdown with 6:30 left.
Right-to-left pre-snap motion by Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, along with some outstanding blocking by the Packers’ offensive line, opened things up for Jones. Center Elgton Jenkins and left guard Lucas Patrick took out defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, Left tackle David Bakhtiari came across and sealed off defensive end Vinny Curry. Tight end Mercedes Lewis pancaked linebacker Duke Riley. Their other linebacker, Alex Singleton, was out of his gap and recovered too late to make a play on Jones. Rookie safety K’Von Wallace also missed him. The rest is history.
No end in sight to takeaway drought
If you’re going to beat a team like the Packers on the road, you need help. You need some turnovers. For the second straight game and sixth time this season, the Eagles didn’t have any takeaways Sunday.
Much has been made, and rightfully so, about Wentz’s NFL-high 15 interceptions. But the Eagles defense’s takeaway problem has been almost as significant. During the Eagles’ four-game losing streak, they have forced just one turnover. One.
The Eagles are 30th in the league in takeaways with 11. Only Dallas (10) and Houston (eight) have fewer. They are tied for last in interceptions with three. Sunday marked the defense’s fifth straight game without a pick. Think about that. They’ve had a single takeaway in 10 of their 12 games.
They didn’t go into Sunday’s game with high hopes of seeing that change. The Packers have the third-fewest giveaways (nine) in the league. Aaron Rodgers has just four interceptions, including two in the last seven games.
The Eagles are 29th in the league in yards per play on first down (4.8). On Sunday, they actually improved on that, averaging 5.2. But second down was another story.
The Eagles averaged just 2.8 yards per play on second down. Just five of their 19 second-down plays gained more than 3 yards.
Wentz was 1-for-5 for 11 yards on second down. Hurts was 1-3 for 6 yards. Running backs Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, and Scott had 27 yards on six second-down carries.
Their second-down impotence made for a lot of third-and-longs. The Eagles converted just four of 13 third-down opportunities against the Packers. Ten of those 13 third-down situations were 6 yards or more. Seven were 10 yards or more. We’ve already mentioned the two third-down sacks. Hurts’ fourth-quarter interception came on a third-and-10.