Eagles Overreaction Week 8: Death by bubble screens and everything is bad

“Eagles Overreaction is a completely serious and well-reasoned analysis of Philadelphia Eagles games. All opinions expressed here are facts. Anyone indicating to the contrary is wrong. Anyone disagreeing with the aforementioned analysis is likewise wrong.” – Abraham Lincoln

The Philadelphia Eagles lost on the road in overtime to the Dallas Cowboys, and everything is bad. Optimists (an annoyingly pleasant group of misguided persons) may argue that a road, overtime loss to the Cowboys, one of the top teams in the NFC, does not spell disaster for the Eagles. These people are wrong and everything is bad. Rookie head coach Doug Pederson has all the worst parts of his mentor, Andy Reid, – poor time management, too many bubble screens, inane play-calling – and none of his most endearing – taking chances deep down the field, always winning after the bye-week, a mustache that makes him look like a walrus.

Andy Reid

Even Andy Reid thinks Doug Pederson needs to do a better a job.

Pederson called plays like he either couldn’t trust his QB to throw down the field, couldn’t trust his receivers to catch the ball, or both. While those aforementioned optimists may excuse this gameplan by arguing that the Eagles receiving corps certainly cannot be trusted, it doesn’t make it any less maddening to watch incessant bubble screens – half of which seem to gain between 2 and -6 yards. The worst series for Pederson, in a game full of them, was a screen pass to Darren Sproles that led to a six-yard loss, then a questionable decision to punt rather than attempt a 54-yard field goal, despite the fact that kicker Caleb Sturgis made two 55-yard FGs in a row at the end of the first half (the first was a free practice kick thanks to a failed attempt by Dallas to “ice the kicker” by calling timeout just before the snap).

Sure, Pederson was coaching just his seventh game as a head coach of any football team above the high school level, but it showed a frustrating lack of moxie in a coach that had previously been quite bold in taking calculated risks. The return to play-it-safe football did not succeed, as Dallas marched 90 yards to score the tying touchdown, and everything is bad.

Jim Schwartz, former god of football, is now terrible. Yes, the defense forced Prescott into some poor throws and should have had two red-zone interceptions (Jordan Hicks got one, a smart offensive pass interference prevented another), but at the end of the game, the Cowboys scored 16 unanswered points to tie, and then win the game.

Also, Josh Huff is going to jail, and there’s nothing funny about driving under the influence with a gun in your door pocket. His performance on special teams will be missed. That is all.

The few bright spots from this game were Darren Sproles, Brandon Graham, and Hallelujah Vaitai. Sproles continues to defy age and demonstrate the speed and elusiveness he has been famed for his entire career. He appears to have supplanted Ryan Mathews (at least for one game) as the Eagles’ featured back. Graham continued his dominating performance against one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. He has been nearly impossible to block one-on-one this season. Vaitai has bounced back from a very bad first half against Washington to turn in two solid performances against the Vikings and Cowboys. It was trial by fire for the 5th-round rookie, but he has been keeping his head above water at right tackle for the last two weeks.

Next Week

The Eagles will continue to be terrible against the New York Giants‘ Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Manning will throw for a career-high in yards and have a career-low in “Manning Faces.” Wentz will look okay in a high-scoring loss.

Prediction: Giants 45 – Eagles 35


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