Significant changes are needed: Five observations from the Eagles’ 28-22 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Did anyone expect a different outcome? Facing one of the best teams in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles collapsed in the national spotlight, 28-22. While a loss to Tampa Bay isn’t the worst thing for a team of this caliber, what occurred during tonight’s loss is making many think differently about the future of this franchise. There were significant issues with nearly every person involved in tonight’s game, and this team will need serious overhauls.
Nick Sirianni play-calling problems continue to get worse:
I wish I could understand Nick Sirianni’s rationale for the plays he calls, but I genuinely cannot. Despite not working for the entire season, Sirianni continues to force-feed RPO wide recover screens for negative yards. There must have been over a dozen RPOs called tonight, and not a single one worked for the Eagles team.
Miles Sanders, one of the best running backs in football last season, was once again ignored for no reason. Sanders finished the first half with just one carry, and the entire NFL world was dumbfounded at his lack of usage.
The only time Sirianni ever used Sanders was when Hurts dumped it off to him in the flat, which never worked out. Once Nick Sirianni began to hand the ball off to Sanders, he dominated, averaging over six yards per carry, but it was too late.
As a result of the predictable and brutal play-calling, the Eagles could not pass against the worst passing defense in the NFL. Tampa Bay gave up an average of 314 passing yards before tonight, and Jalen Hurts barely had ⅓ of that, finishing with 115 yards.
This team has guts:
Like I said last week, with all of the decision-making issues this team has, they never give up. Against the best team in football, they could have easily walked away trailing by three scores. Instead, they continued to rally and made it a six-point game late into the fourth quarter.
Although things didn’t work out in their favor, seeing this team fight until the end gives me some hope despite the loss. It speaks volumes to the culture Nick Sirianni has created that this team always fights until the final whistle. And while all of the play-calling issues are significant, this is a serious positive about his tenure in Philadelphia.
Jonathan Gannon will never change his coverages:
Against the greatest quarterback in NFL history with an average snap-to-release time of two seconds, Jonathan Gannon decided to continue his soft zone coverages. Brady, in retaliation, tore about the Eagles’ defense, having just eight incompletions on 42 attempts. The Buccaneers also exploited the Eagles’ defense with screens on numerous occasions for large chunks of yardage.
Attacking the Eagles with screens is something that the Carolina Panthers did, and the Chiefs, and the Dallas Cowboys, and the 49ers. Are we sensing a pattern here? Jonathan Gannon refuses to blitz and doesn’t falter from his predictable coverages, and it hurts this team every single week. Nothing Jonathan Gannon has done so far makes me think the Eagles should keep him as their defensive coordinator moving forward.
Alex Singleton saw less playing time tonight, with Davion Taylor gaining more and more snaps. However, he was still a massive liability in the passing game, and Tom Brady targeted him relentlessly throughout the night. Thankfully Gannon recognizes to play Taylor more, and although he isn’t perfect in coverage, he is much better than Singleton is.
Jalen Hurts shows some serious flaws:
Tonight was by far, and large Jalen hurts worst performance of his NFL career. Hurts had just 115 yards on 12/26 passing. Alongside that, he had an ugly interception and an embarrassing QB rating of 55.8. Accuracy is still a significant concern for Hurts, and he missed several wide-open passes that could have helped give this team some life.
Whenever Jalen Hurts’ first option on a pass is covered, he goes into panic mode. Almost every time, he rolls out of a clean pocket to the sideline and throws it out of bounds. On one occasion, when next to the sideline, Hurts decides to slide for a loss of yardage instead of throwing it out of bounds.
Hurts once again looked like he was seeing ghosts in the pocket and underthrew several deep passes, one of which led to an interception. If things do not improve for Jalen Hurts soon, it’s hard to think that a QB change won’t be on the horizon for the Eagles. It’s also fair to say this coaching staff isn’t putting Hurts in a position to succeed, forcing him to be a pocket passer instead of utilizing runs and play actions.
These refs were atrocious:
My goodness, were the calls tonight horrid. The most notable was the taunting call against Genard Avery that helped seal tonight’s game. The increased taunting penalties are a horrible change to the NFL that forces players to behave like robots (thanks John Mara). Meanwhile, the referees refused to call any pass interferences on the Buccaneers and forced Nick Sirianni to challenge a clearly in-bounds reception.
The interception by Marcus Epps did not have enough evidence to overturn either. Now, the referees are not the only reason the Eagles lost tonight and don’t even rank amongst the top five, but it was still frustrating to watch.
Philadelphia now has a mini bye week ahead of them, traveling to Las Vegas to face the Raiders next Sunday. Going against a team that recently had their head coach resign in the midst of a scandal, it’s an excellent opportunity for the Eagles to regain some semblance of momentum for the second half of the season.
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