February 21, 2024

The Philadelphia Eagles performed all the way down to the extent of their competitors…and misplaced.

By Chris Murray

For the Philadelphia Sunday SUN

ABOVE PHOTO: The Cardinals’ Michael Wilson makes a landing conversions in opposition to the Eagles. Picture: Webster Riddick

At this level of the season, Philadelphia Eagles followers are hoping that their workforce can discover their groove throughout the playoffs.

If we’re sincere with ourselves, the 2023 Eagles might not be ok to outlive the primary spherical of the playoffs, which is able to most likely be on the street after their fourth loss of their final 5 video games.

The Eagles’ beautiful 35-31 loss to an Arizona Cardinals workforce that sits in final place within the NFC West is a transparent indication that the Birds are a great distance from peaking and taking part in their finest sport of the season.  

It’s secure to say they’ve hit all-time low.

And what, they most likely gained’t get there, particularly when you think about how the Cardinals’ offense dominated the Eagles’ protection up and down the sector. They scored on six of seven of their offensive possessions — two discipline targets and 4 touchdowns.  Arizona by no means punted as a result of the Eagles’ protection didn’t come near getting the Cardinals off the sector.

Arizona rolled up 449 yards of whole offense on the hapless Birds protection. The Eagles allowed the Cardinals to hurry for 228 yards with most of that coming from operating again James Connor who gained 128 yards dashing on 26 carries.  The Cardinals transformed 5-of-10 of their third-down conversions. That they had an almost 2-1 benefit in time of possession.

“Clearly, they managed the sport by operating the soccer. Clearly, we weren’t’ ok there stopping the run,” mentioned Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni. “They have been capable of take quite a lot of chunks off the clock. They did job executing. We now have to be higher placing guys in place to succeed.”

Within the second half, the Cardinals had 4 drives of 70-plus yards that resulted in touchdowns — together with Arizona’s game-winning seven-play, 70-yard drive that was capped by a two-yard run by Connor with 32 seconds left within the sport.

“It’s powerful once you don’t get off the sector as a protection,” Eagles defensive finish Brandon Graham mentioned after the sport. “As a protection, we didn’t come via like we did final week. I do know it’s on us as an entire, particularly that final drive once we couldn’t get off the sector. We take that to coronary heart. We’re going to get it proper.”

The Eagles offense performed effectively for essentially the most half, however their subsequent final possession after the Cardinals tied the sport 28-28 was the one which warranted essentially the most scrutiny and possibly had you scratching your head and saying, ‘They did what?!’

On the following kickoff after the Cardinals’ game-tying landing, kicker Matt Praetor tried an onside kick that was recovered by the Eagles on the Arizona 44. An offsides penalty on that very same kickoff moved the ball to the 39. After an 18-yard cross from Jalen Hurts A.J. Brown moved the Eagles to the Arizona 20-yard line, and issues started going sideways.

On first down, left sort out Jordan Mailata bought flagged for holding. On the subsequent two performs, the Eagles ran Hurts on two quarterback runs.  One gained 4 and the opposite resulted in a three-yard loss. On third and 19 from the Cardinals 19, Hurts hit operating Kenneth Gainwell with a four-yard cross that was nowhere near the primary down.

As an alternative of going for a go-head landing, the Eagles needed to accept a 43-yard discipline purpose by Jake Elliott. What have been Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson considering on this collection of downs once they had all of the momentum of their favor?!  You’ll be able to’t overthink the sport on this state of affairs.

I do know Hurts is a superb participant, however you may’t name two quarterback runs when you must rating a landing and you’ve got all of the momentum in your favor.    

“You get the holding name and we sort of go backward…They offer us the ball within the 50 …We simply need to execute and handle that state of affairs lots higher.”

However, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway as a result of the protection couldn’t cease anyone and that was the way it went in for your complete sport.

Within the first half, the Arizona Cardinals offense outgained the Eagles, had extra first downs, a greater third-down conversion price, and a 2-1 benefit in time of possession. Within the second quarter, the Cardinals had the soccer for all however 1:50 of the second quarter. 

Regardless of shifting up and down the sector on the Birds’ protection, the Cardinals might solely muster two discipline targets within the first half.

However the Eagles dominated on the scoreboard the place it counted. A pair of Jalen Hurts landing passes to broad receiver Julio Jones and a 99-yard pick-six by Sidney Brown of a poorly thrown cross by Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray gave the Eagles a 21-6 lead on the break.

Within the second half, Cardinals continued to maneuver the ball up and down the sector on the beleaguered Eagles’ protection and scored touchdowns as a substitute of discipline targets.