PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Flag day came again to Washington on Sunday. And it wasn’t the officiating crew this time. No, this time, it was Eagles that were sloppy, undisciplined and self-destructive against Washington at FedEx Field.
Last week, there was some doubt incurred by the Eagles, who were flagged 14 flags for 111 yards in the 24-23 loss to Detroit.
This week, it was Fletcher Cox with a late hit that led to a touchdown. It was Brandon Brooks with a false start at the Washington 5, which forced a field goal. It was a deluge of 13 penalties for 114 yards that put the Eagles in a constant war with themselves in leading up to a 27-20 loss to Washington.
It marked the second-straight setback for the Eagles, dropping them to 3-2 and it was the fourth-straight victory for Washington, which improved to 4-2 and seems primed for a battle with Dallas atop the NFC East.
Carson Wentz was under siege all day. He was sacked five times for minus-34 yards, almost as many times as he was sacked the whole season (entering the game, the Eagles gave up seven sacks). Wentz began slow, completing just 3 of 8 for 28 yards in the first half. He finished with a respectable 11 of 22 for 179 yards.
But each time it seemed the Eagles might generate something, they stung themselves. Over the last two games, the Eagles have been nailed for 27 penalties for 225 yards.
It doesn’t help, either, when Washington thrashed the Eagles for 230 yards on the ground—and 493 total yards of offense. Washington converted 7 of 13 third downs and Kirk Cousins threw for 263 yards, completing 18 of 34 for two TDs—helped by a dubious Eagles defense.
For the second-straight week the Eagles got off to a horrendous start. They were down 14-0 before Wendell Smallwood bailed them out with an 86-yard kickoff return.
The Eagles went into halftime absolutely gouged for 285 yards of total offense—126 coming on the ground. Compounding matters was the Eagles inability to move the ball. By halftime, the Eagles were palatalized for more yards than they actually gained—50 to 41. As expected, rookie right offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, replacing the suspended Lane Johnson, had his problems with Washington defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who had 2½ sacks in the first half.
To offset that, it seemed Eagles coach Doug Pederson lost confidence in his offense by running the ball instead of letting Wentz throw.
Then Pederson curled up and did his best Andy Reid impersonation, giving Vaitai little help, much like Reid did with Winston Justice against Osi Umenyiora. It made Vaitai skittish, which in turn made Wentz skittish in releasing the ball.
“Penalties and third downs is the name of the game and that starts with me,” Pederson said. “I have to go back over and reevaluate. It’s a discipline thing. I have to look and see whether or guys are in position, out of position, are they moving their feet, not moving their feet. Some of them are legit, obviously, but it’s an area we definitely have to clean up.”
Under Pederson, the Eagles had ruled time of possession. Not this time. Washington had the ball for 34:13 to the Eagles 25:47. There was one sequence, from the second quarter into the third, where the Eagles went 19:46 without running an offensive play, discounting the kneel-down to finish the first half. In real-time, it was over an hour (1:16) between the times they touched the ball. In that span, Washington outgained the Eagles 239-0.
Now the question has to be put out there: Were the Eagles first three games an aberration?