PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Let’s call it The Pain Game. The Eagles’ night started off on the wrong calf even before kickoff. Dallas Goedert appeared to aggravate his balky calf during warmups and was ruled out just before the game began, leading to a cascading list of injured Eagles.
And yet, somehow, the Eagles were an eighth of a yard from maybe winning the game. On the road. On a night where the offensive line couldn’t block, Ronald Darby couldn’t cover (at first), Nelson Agholor couldn’t catch (at first). No one stayed healthy and it was painful to even watch.
Just a wild, wild night of football.
Here are my KoObservations from the Eagles’ 24-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons:
1. Wings, clipped
I’m not old enough to remember The Bounty Bowl. My only Bounty reference is the kind you find in the bathroom and the Eagles’ depth chart now feels just as thin and uncomfortable.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many injuries in a football game, let alone one half. The Eagles lost Goedert in warmups, then proceeded to lose notable pass catchers Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Agholor in the first half.
Carson Wentz took a shot to the ribs that seemingly affected his throwing until he drank a liter of Michael’s Secret Stuff in the locker room. Corey Clement fumbles the second-half kickoff right back to Atlanta and then leaves with a shoulder injury. Timmy Jernigan, replacing an injured Malik Jackson, has to go in for X-rays in the third quarter.
Gross on multiple levels. The Eagles are deep, but no team has that much depth.
One thing that bugged me was the play calling. Down three skill position players most of the first half, the Eagles just didn’t run the football. The Minnesota Vikings rushed for 172 yards against the Falcons in Week 1, and it never felt like an honest attempt from the Eagles to establish the run in a one-score game throughout the second quarter.
It doesn’t take a wizard to see the advantages to establishing the run on the road. One would think Doug Pederson could foresee that with his Albus Dumbledore glasses on. The difference between us is that he has a Super Bowl ring and is on TV, and I just missed my mouth with a handful of sea salt and lime chips on the couch I had to put on layaway to buy.
2. Carson lit, Carson getting hit
You can’t question Wentz’s toughness — I just wonder how comfortable the Eagles’ coaching staff is watching him get hit repeatedly.
The Eagles took the lead on this drive. What a play pic.twitter.com/Q1SnhzdkdG
— Dan Koob CBS3 (@DanKoob) September 16, 2019
On a night where the Eagles’ offensive line collectively got whupped, dialing up zone reads on two-point conversations gave me flashbacks to Los Angeles, 2017. I admire Wentz’s desire to be Brett Favre-Lite, but I’d rather see him not continue to take massive hits when he doesn’t have to.
Wasn’t that the point of his maturation this offseason? The headsets need to help him.
3. Darren Sproles sits
Sproles was second in touches for the Eagles last week, but he took a backseat to Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard on Sunday night. And in my opinion, rightfully so.
But quickly on Howard, the Eagles shipped a sixth-round pick to the Chicago Bears for him in the offseason in a move that made a ton of sense at the time. They weren’t going to pay Jay Ajayi coming off ACL surgery and the Birds desperately missed what LeGarrette Blount brought them the year they won the Super Bowl.
Trading for Howard appears to have been a lateral move, at best. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an outrageous price to pay. The guy ran for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons and then Tarik Cohen overtook his carries in Chicago last year.
4. One problem, though …
Cohen is now primarily playing slot receiver. He beat Howard out for running back reps last year. Yikes.
Did the Bears know something the Eagles didn’t? If so, it’s looking like they’ve found out now.
After all the preseason praise from the Birds’ coaching staff, the proof is in the box score.
Howard’s touches through two games:
Week 1: six carries, 44 yards.
Week 2: Eight carries, 18 yards.
Clearly Sanders is the Birds’ lead back heading forward, and if he ever figures out you can’t bounce every run to the outside, he has a very bright future. A future that won’t feature Howard after this season.
5. Schwartz, wartz and all
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz takes a lot of grief. He continually called coverages that allowed the Falcons to exploit Darby on three straight long balls in the first half before they finally connected on one to Calvin Ridley and then went back to Darby’s side for a second score.
The Twitter-verse was ready to turn its collective keys on the “First Jim Schwartz” nuclear program.
But give the guy credit. Schwartz clearly knew the offense wasn’t going to get the job done and dialed up blitz after blitz to confuse Ryan and force the QB to make premature throws. It led to two terrible interceptions and a big Andrew Sendejo third-down sack.
It’s easy to look at what the Eagles’ pass rush and pass defense hasn’t done through two weeks, but they’ve stepped up when they’ve had to and as I was writing this, Julio Jones went 54 yards for a touchdown that ultimately gave the Falcons the win.
Never mind. Turn your key.
Extra Point: My Favorite/Least Favorite Thing Of The Game
We didn’t travel to Atlanta, so no quotes from me. My least favorite thing about this game is challenging offensive pass interference. There’s already a ton of dead time during an NFL game — we don’t need to add to it.
Also, Al Michaels referred to the Eagles’ 4-and-14 as “convert or die,” which is something I’ve never considered yelling at my family’s Bar Mitzvahs until now.
Finally, a quick thank you to the readers. Our web staff told me 3,000 people read — or accidentally clicked on — last week’s first KoObservations column.
I’m happy to report only four people asked me what that hashtag was or meant throughout the week. As a zero-time Emmy nominated journalist, having this space to express my thoughts means a lot. Until next time.