TAMPA, Fla. — My five top reasons for the Eagles' 27-21 loss Sunday to the Bucs:
If you didn't know better Sunday, you might have thought a time machine had taken you back to 2013 and you were watching Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams and Patrick Chung.
A week after playing so well against Matt Ryan and the Falcons, the Eagles secondary was undressed by Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs' talented arsenal of receivers. Fitzpatrick threw for 402 yards and four touchdowns to four receivers. He had just six incompletions the entire game.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins said the secondary played OK except for the two 75-yard touchdown passes they gave up to DeSean Jackson and tight end O.J. Howard, which is kind of like saying Johnstown held up pretty well except for the water.
Those certainly were costly plays. Not just on the scoreboard, but also with respect to the defense's mindset. The secondary spent the rest of the game so focused on not getting beat deep that Fitzpatrick was able to pick the Eagles apart underneath.
On the first long TD pass, Jenkins vacated the middle of the field on Jackson's post route, leaving Jalen Mills one-on-one with Jackson. On the second, Howard turned what should have been a 17-yard gain into a long TD thanks largely to a missed tackle by the Eagles' other corner, Ronald Darby.
>> READ MORE: Eagles secondary has brutal afternoon | David Murphy
But there were several other bad moments. A unit that prides itself on its communication skills inexplicably left wide receiver Chris Godwin wide-open in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown late in the first half.
Ex-Eagle Jackson, who notched his fourth 100-yard receiving game in six rematches with his former team, beat Darby for a 28-yard sideline completion on a third-and-7 play in the third quarter that set up a 4-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans.
Then, after the Eagles had closed the gap to six late in the game and needed to get the ball back, the pass defense failed them again. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz called a six-man blitz on a second-and-13 play with 2:36 left. Mills gave Jackson too much of a cushion, and he caught a 17-yard pass for a first down.
Three plays later, on a do-or-die third-and-3, Mills gave up a 10-yard completion to Evans.
An offense that already was missing Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery had two other key parts go down with injuries Sunday.
Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, who went into the game with a quad injury, aggravated it early and played just eight snaps. Wide receiver Mike Wallace, who, without Jeffery and Mack Hollins, really is the Eagles' only legitimate vertical threat, fractured a fibula on the Eagles' second possession and played just seven snaps.
That left Nick Foles with a depleted receiving corps with which to work. Aside from Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor, his options were Joshua Perkins, Kamar Aiken, Shelton Gibson, and DeAndre Carter, who collectively had seven career receptions going into the Bucs game.
Aiken played 62 snaps and Gibson played 35. Perkins, a converted tight end who played just four snaps in Week 1, played 26 Sunday and actually had four catches for 57 yards, but also a pair of drops.
To say Jeffery can't get back soon enough would be an understatement.
Doug Pederson has made it clear that he's going to be an aggressive play-caller. His bold fourth-down decisions in Super Bowl LII helped the Eagles end a 57-year title drought.
I like that about him. But you gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em, and I don't think fourth-and-4 at midfield with 28 minutes to play and trailing by 13 points was a good time to hold 'em.
This wasn't last February. His offense wasn't moving the ball as it had been against the Patriots when he decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 late in the game to keep the ball away from Tom Brady. Foles wasn't playing with the confidence he was playing with that day.
His short toss to Ertz came up a foot short of a first down, thanks to a perfect defensive play by Lavonte David and a slightly imperfect route by Ertz.
>> READ MORE: No regrets for Doug Pederson on gutsy fourth-and-4 call
Seven plays and 54 yards later, Fitzpatrick threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game, a 4-yarder to Evans that gave the Bucs a 27-7 lead.
If Pederson had elected to punt, maybe the Bucs still drive down the field and score. I don't know. But they would have had a significantly longer field with which to deal.
After the Bucs went up, 20-7, on Fitzpatrick's touchdown pass to Godwin with 42 seconds left in the first half, the Eagles put together an impressive hurry-up drive that gave them an opportunity to recoup some points and go into the locker room at halftime with a little bit of momentum.
But Jake Elliott's 42-yard field-goal attempt clanged off the right upright, and the Bucs maintained their 13-point lead.
Elliott was an oh-so-dependable kicker last year. He beat the Giants with a franchise-record 61-yarder. He converted 11 of 12 attempts in the regular season and playoffs from 46-plus yards. He made 22 of 26 from 45 and in. When he has a rare miss, it's man-bites-dog news.
His miss at the end of the half wasn't catastrophic. But those missing three points might have impacted some of Pederson's play-calling decisions in the second half.
Maybe he doesn't go for it on fourth-and-4 early in the third quarter if it's a 10-point game at that point rather than a 13-point one. Then again, maybe he does.
The Eagles' pass protection was inconsistent much of the game. Foles was hurried on many of his throws and was hit at least a dozen times.
Kwon Alexander came in untouched on an A-gap blitz late in the first quarter and forced a fumble, though the quarterback was more to blame for not seeing that blitz and getting the ball out than his linemen were for not picking up Alexander.
Foles was flushed from the pocket several times, which sometimes had to do with his protection and sometimes had to do with his receivers' inability to get open down the field.