Inside the Eagles - Week 4 Edition

Monday, September 29, 2008 ·

Hmmm, I am really not sure how to write this piece. A part of me just wants to write about forty expletives and be done with it, but I figured that would not appealing -- and well most of you have already said those expletives.

Coming off a huge win against the Steelers, I felt that this game prior to a division rival in Washington, would be a trap game. Well, it happened. The often predictable Eagles offensive play-calling in the red zone cost them again. They were a horrendous 2-13 on third-down conversions and they failed to score a touchdown when they had first and goal inside the 5 twice. They did have 3 drives that close and punched it once, with the same running play they tried 4 straight times late in the fourth quarter.

Before this article gets completely negative, I want to remind everyone that it is still only week 4 and plenty of top tier teams have lost games they were supposed to win this season.

Click after the jump to read more analysis.

Remember DeSean Jackson is just a rookie.
People want to rip apart DeSean Jackson after his fumble in Dallas and muffed punt last night. The muffed punt hurt the Eagles, but you have to remember, Jackson was not even supposed make close to this much of an impact this season. He had 143 total yards last night and a touchdown. He's been drawing coverage which has opened up the field for guys like Hank Baskett, Greg Lewis, and Jason Avant. He's been an NFL pro for four weeks. Do you think he didn't learn about the touchdown mistake? After scoring yesterday, he handed the ball right to the referee. He's a rookie and his sky is the limit. Devin Hester, Brian Mitchell, Dante Hall and so on have muffed punts in the past. Yes, the turnover hurt, but the Eagles defense forced turnovers to turn the page and the offense failed.

Andy Reid hates running a quarterback sneak.
In our first first and goal with short yardage to go, Andy called a nice run by Buckhalter and they scored. The next two opportunities were as follows.

Late in the third quarter:
1st and 2 at CHI 2 (5:08) D.McNabb pass incomplete short right to H.Baskett (N.Vasher).
2nd and 2 at CHI 2 (5:03) D.McNabb up the middle to CHI 6 for -4 yards (M.Anderson).
3rd and 6 at CHI 6 (4:31) D.McNabb pass incomplete short left to J.Avant (N.Vasher).

If you do not remember, that bootleg pass too low for Baskett. McNabb being tripped up and falling on the ground and then the slant pass to Jason Avant.

Late in the fourth quarter:
1st and 4 at CHI 4 (5:40) C.Buckhalter right guard to CHI 1 for 3 yards (K.Payne).
2nd and 1 at CHI 1 (5:03) T.Hunt right tackle to CHI 1 for no gain (K.Payne, M.Brown).
3rd and 1 at CHI 1 (4:19) C.Buckhalter right guard to CHI 1 for no gain (A.Ogunleye).
4th and 1 at CHI 1 (3:40) C.Buckhalter left guard to CHI 1 for no gain (A.Brown).

We all remember this. Why is Andy Reid so afraid to run the quarterback sneak? It takes less time for the defense to be able to get penetration. Andy has always been against running a quarterback sneak and it really boggles my mind. I understand that Donovan McNabb is banged up and some said he may have even had to leave the game last night, but you never ran it in the past Andy. And no, the end zone tries were not the only times where you chose not to.

3rd and 1 at CHI 32 (6:13) C.Buckhalter right tackle to CHI 32 for no gain (A.Brown, K.Payne).
4th and 1 at CHI 32 (5:29) D.Akers 50 yard field goal is No Good, Wide Right, Center-J.Dorenbos, Holder-S.Rocca.

In the second quarter, Andy Reid felt that he shouldn't have tried to use the quarterback sneak on either third or fourth down. David Akers has been horrible in his recent career on any kick deeper than 45 yards. I'm not quite sure why he still ha faith in him. In turn, the Bears used to great field position, drove down, and scored a touchdown.

Andy Reid needs to throw away the 100 page playbook and call a play that every playbook has, the QB sneak.

The Eagles need to improve on third down.
Last night the Eagles were 2-13 on third down. This year, they've only converted 39.6% of their third down opportunities on the season. Yes, missing Brian Westbrook, Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, L.J. Smith, and Shawn Andrews have not helped, but the play-calling and non-execution by players capable of converting these opportunities is the real problem. The Eagles have depth, so let's not make the excuse that so and so was not out there. They have to improve over the next 12 games if they even want to sniff the playoffs.

Praise or Disappointment for the Defense?
Yes, the defense allowed 24 points last night. Yes, they allowed 3 passing touchdowns by Kyle Orton. Yes, they failed to stop Matt Forte on third and long deep in Bears territory to force a punt. However, the defense had 4 sacks, forced 4 turnovers, and cause many other hurries and deflections to disrupt Kyle Orton in the second half. The Bears converted only a handful of first downs after the break and scored only 3 points. The game was there for the Eagles offense to take the lead, but they didn't.

The offense's misfortunes early on gave the Bears good field position, which they capitalized on. The average NFL team should be able to put up points with a short field. The Bears are slightly above average.

If the Eagles have to be carried all year by the defense again, there is no way they're going to make the playoffs or at least far in the playoffs. Defense wins championships, but the offense still needs to do their part.

Final Analysis:
The Eagles are 2-2. They were a victim of a trap game, they've become the victim of another NFL trap game. Most realists felt the Eagles would be 2-2 after this week, but losing to Pittsburgh instead of Chicago. The season is far from over, so while this loss sucks, there is plenty of time left to rebound. The Eagles will continue division play next week against the Redskins. Next week is a must-win, even in week 5 because their opponent is a Redskins' team on fire. I don't like saying a week 5 game is a must-win, but it is in this case.


A small introduction...

We Hate to Lose began in October 2007. The initial purpose of the website was to provide news updates and commentary on all four major sports teams in Philadelphia. Because of time-constraints, in April of 2009, I decided to post only on my first-love, the Philadelphia Phillies.

My name is Justin Evans and I hope you enjoy the site.

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