There wasn’t much to like about the Eagles’ 27-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
Before shifting gears to next Sunday’s game in New Orleans against the Saints, and trying to figure out how many points Drew Brees and company will score against a team whose defense can’t force turnovers and how much separation they will put between themselves and an offense that struggles to score points, here is a recap with some notes, quotes and questions from a disheartening defeat at the hands of a bitter NFC East rival:
The Eagles are now 0-4 coming off a win the previous week. Unable to build up any momentum, it is any wonder the Birds are sitting ducks at 4-5?
“Our division is right in front of us,” said head coach Doug Pederson. “We have seven games remaining, and it’s a prideful group.”
Zach Ertz: "We just have to believe despite the evidence. The evidence says we're 4-5 and we're not as good as we thought we were going to be coming into this year. But we can't lose faith of being brothers, playing for another, and being family."
The tight end was targeted 16 times and made 14 catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He leads the Eagles in TDs this season with five of them. Are 16 targets too many and too predictable, though, for an offense that prides itself on having so many weapons?
“Until I look at the tape and see, that’s … Ertz is a pretty good receiver and a big part of the offense,” said Pederson. “Until I look at the film to really understand where the ball went and see, it’s hard to say.”
Golden Tate played just 18 offensive snaps (29 percent) and five special teams snaps (18 percent). He was targeted four times, made two catches for 19 yards and returned two punts for 11 yards.
Asked if was what he expected, Tate said: “I wasn’t sure. The flow of the game never really dictated - they had a light package. Just whenever my name was called or number was called I was going to go in there and give it my best.”
Shouldn’t there have been more on his plate considering he had two weeks to prep?
“The short answer would be yes,” said Pederson.” We had a certain number of plays for him and wanted to get him into the game and just get him some touches. I thought one thing we did was spread the ball around, whether it was through the RPO (read-pass options) or play action or even just straight up drop back.”
Spread the ball around?
Quarterback Carson Wentz involved just seven pass catchers, and none of them was rookie tight end Dallas Goedert, who played the same number of snaps as Tate.
Meanwhile, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott threw to nine different players.
Tate: “The Linc was rocking. I was very impressed and I wish we could have given our fan base a little bit more to cheer about. I know how important this game was to everyone in the city. Just couldn’t get it done.”
It was the third straight home loss for the Eagles. What happened to the team that had won 15 of 18 games at home entering the season under Pederson?
The inability to force turnovers has been one of the more glaring deficiencies with this defense. They are now minus-six in the takeaway/giveaway department after giving up one on Sunday and not getting any in return. They have just four interceptions after getting 19 of them last season the regular season. The defense hasn’t intercepted a pass since Kamu Grugier-Hill had one in the first quarter against Eli Manning on Oct. 11.
Wentz: “To some extent I feel like this press conference is even a broken record almost. We’ve been here a couple times and we know at the end of the day every one of these games is close. This is the National Football League, it’s hard to win. And we’ve let a handful get away from us now that we’re really just kicking ourselves. But like you said, we’ve said it before, it’s really just are we going to step up, are we going to make the corrections, are we going to come out faster each week. And I believe we have the guys to do that.”
Michael Bennett had two sacks and now leads the team with 5.5 of them. All of them have come in five of the last six games. He has nine multi-sacks in his career.
Yet, the Eagles fourth-quarter defense is a shambles. They allowed 14 points to Dallas over the final 15 minutes, allowing them twice to march the length of the field right after the offense had tied the game. They allowed the Carolina Panthers to score 21 in the final quarter three weeks ago in a 21-17 loss.
What’s up with that?
Pederson had no answer when asked. He only talked about bad tackling and how big and powerful Zeke Elliott (187 yards from scrimmage, two touchdowns) is.
Jason Peters: “Just down and out right now. (I) still can’t believe it. We started out very slow the first half. We did everything we could the second half – we just came up short.”
Peters gave up a sack to Randy Gregory, who took an inside path to beat Peters, and there was a run play where Peters went backward instead of attacking and it led to a loss of yardage. Sure, Peters has been playing through some injuries, but it’s fair to wonder: Will this be the final season for the 36-year-old?
Referee John Parry and his crew did not flag the Eagles the entire game – and the Eagles still lost. It was a penalty-free game for the most part, which was nice to see. Even the Cowboys had just five penalties for 37 yards.