After listening to Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz in the shell-shocked aftermath of Sunday’s loss at Minnesota, it seems the Eagles’ schedule for the coming week of practice might be filled already.
Philadelphia’s coach and quarterback each repeatedly stressed that the one-sided 38-20 loss demanded that the 3-3- club renew its commitment to “looking,” “learning,” “evaluating,” “cleaning up,” “studying,” and “improving.” While Eagles fans who sat through the game would agree on the need for self-reflection, they’d probably also hope that perhaps a little time could be devoted to a few other things, like pass-rushing, pass-catching and pass-defending, like finding some help for a crippled secondary, a stretched-thin D-line, an unspectacular linebacking corps, and a wideout group that could use a deep threat.
“Disappointed in a lot of things,” said Pederson. “We’ve just got to look at this tape and be critical of each other, critical of myself. We’ve got to fix what’s wrong.”
— Frank Fitzpatrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It was déjà vu NFL-style, two oddly similar games that took place a season apart and at opposite ends of the Mississippi River.
Except for the final score, the 2019 Eagles’ 38-20 loss to the Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis looked and felt a lot like the beating they took last season in New Orleans, a 48-7 defeat on Nov. 18 that appeared to sink the playoff dreams of Doug Pederson’s defending Super Bowl champs.
Both happened in sold-out domes where at times the crowd noise was earsplitting. Both featured an Eagles team that hadn’t been able to score early and fell behind 24-7. In both, an opposing quarterback from a Big 10 school found his rhythm early and didn’t let up, throwing four touchdown passes. And after each of the two road losses, the Eagles left the field with their confidence shaken, an NFL East opponent awaiting them the following week, and minus two more starters, in Sunday’s case Jason Peters and Zach Brown.
If there’s any consolation to be derived from this most recent loss, it’s that last year’s Eagles somehow managed to bounce back, winning the next game to ignite a run of five victories in six games that earned them a playoff spot.
This time, though, there’s a but the size of Jason Peters’.
Last season’s turnaround win — a last-minute Jake Elliott field goal gave them a 25-22 victory on Nov. 25 — came against the 3-7 New York Giants. And it happened at Lincoln Financial Field.
Next on these Eagles’ schedule is a Sunday night road game against the Cowboys at another enclosed stadium in another hostile environment, Dallas.
Pederson was asked Sunday if there were any lessons that this year’s team could extract from the successful bounce-back that followed 2018’s indoor embarrassment.
“I think there are some similarities,” Pederson said afterward. “I think we can draw some conclusions from that. But, you know, different seasons, different teams. We’ve still got a lot of season ahead of us, 10 games. It’s where we are right now.”
Where they are right now is in some ways better than where they were after that Saints debacle. But in other important ways, the view right now is less rosy.
The Eagles, 3-3- at this point, were 4-6 after the New Orleans loss. QB Carson Wentz, who was hobbling a year ago, seems healthy now. But this schedule, with road games the next two weeks in Dallas and Buffalo, seems more daunting this time, the injuries more numerous, the weaknesses more glaring.
Still they insist they’ll do now what they did then and hope for the same results
“The plan is to learn from this, without a doubt,” Wentz said when asked to compare the two defeats. “You don’t want to lose a game, but we’re going to watch the tape and everybody’s going to take ownership and accountability of where they can improve, where they can get better.”
Jason Kelce sounded a similar note, apparently confident that history can repeat itself for the 2018 Eagles.
“I still think it’s close, I really do,” Kelce said. “I think we’re going to continue to get better. Obviously, we’ve got a big division game next week against Dallas. So we’re going to have to work really hard this week. … But that’s the way the NFL is. You’ve got to perform no matter what.”
The Eagles defensive backs are bad, but does anybody know what constitutes pass interference in the NFL these days?
— Norman Gray, Philadelphia