Philadelphia Eagles

10 observations from Eagles-Cardinals

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10 observations from Eagles-Cardinals

BOX SCORE

Can't tackle. Can't catch. Can't block. Can't run. Can't throw. Can't do anything.

After two encouraging weeks, the Eagles were back to embarrassing themselves Sunday night. 

They've now allowed 40 or more points in three of their last five games and lost by at least 23 points in those three games.

The Eagles got humiliated Sunday night on national TV, dropping a 40-17 decision to an Arizona Cardinals team that seemed to be just toying with the Eagles much of the game (see Instant Replay).

We've definitely had more than our share of this sort of 10 observations this year, haven't we?

1. Monday, the Eagles can get back to pretending they’re in a playoff race. And I guess technically they are, considering the current state of the NFC East. But nobody should confuse being in a playoff race with being a true playoff team. On Sunday, the Cards demonstrated just how big a gap there is between the Eagles and a true upper-echelon NFC team. They came in and manhandled the Eagles on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and they did it in the Eagles’ own building. Yeah, the Eagles can still back their way into the playoffs with wins over the Redskins and Giants (see Mychal Kendricks' take here), but they have a long way to go to be able to compete on a regular basis with a team like Arizona. The Eagles just looked overmatched Sunday. Missed tackles, blown coverages, fumbles. The kind of stuff that should have been cleaned up in training camp. The Cards have drafted better, signed better free agents and they’re better coached. They’re just on a different level right now, and they made sure everybody knew it.

2. I get giving DeMarco Murray a diminishing workload since he hasn’t been producing. I get playing Ryan Mathews more than Murray. But one thing Murray has done awfully well this year is convert on 3rd-and-short. In fact, going into Sunday’s game, Murray was 12 for 12 this year on 3rd- or-4th-and-1, and Mathews was 2 for 5. So why did Mathews get the ball on 4th-and-1 in the closing minutes of the second quarter? While Murray watched from the sidelines (see story), Mathews was stuffed for no gain. One guy is perfect on short yardage, the other guy is at 40 percent. I get using Murray less, but I don’t get not letting him do the one thing he’s still doing well (see Chip Kelly's take here).

3. We have to address David Johnson’s 47-yard touchdown run. Johnson is a talented kid, tough to tackle. But goodness gracious, that was embarrassing. There were five different times that play should have been over. I don’t care how many backups are on the field, how many guys are missing with injuries. That was a shameful effort. Johnson’s TD was the longest against the Eagles in six years and the longest at the Linc in nine years. That’s not talent. That’s not ability. That’s just want-to. Toughness. Will. When that’s missing, you really have a problem.

4. What a colossal embarrassment Chip Kelly’s three biggest offseason moves have turned out to be. Murray, last year’s NFL rushing leader, rides the bench. Kiko Alonso, traded for LeSean McCoy, can’t tackle anybody and doesn’t even look like he’s trying half the time. Byron Maxwell has had a few decent games this year but certainly has overall been a major disappointment. These are the kind of moves that can set a franchise back years when they fail. And when they all fail this miserably? This is what you get. Owner Jeff Lurie really has to think long and hard about making more changes in the front office this offseason and at least giving Kelly a respected NFL general manager to work with. Not Howie. A new voice, a respected voice, a reliable voice. Gotta do something. Gotta get players.

5. Note to Jordan Matthews: Do not celebrate a touchdown down 20 points in the fourth quarter. I don’t care how long it was, how don’t care how far it was. Hand the ball to the ref and go back to the bench. You are getting embarrassed on national TV in your own stadium. Understand the moment.

6. It’s understandable if you had no idea who No. 31 on the Cards was. He began the season as the Cards’ third-string running back. He only had 35 career carries until the Rams game two weeks ago. He’s started three games in his career. He’s David Johnson, a rookie third-round pick from Northern Iowa, and he pounded the Eagles for 187 yards Sunday. Yeah, he’s a talented kid. But to let him run up and down the field in your own stadium like that? Just embarrassing. Inexcusable. I don’t know what else to say about the Eagles’ run defense. I thought maybe they had turned the corner with a terrific second half against Shady, but this was just pathetic.

7. Just to put all this in context: From 1977 through 2014, a span of 36 years, one opposing running back ran for 185 yards or more in Philly — Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith in 1993. Then Doug Martin ran for 235 in Week 11 and Johnson ran for 187 Sunday. That means more backs have rushed for 185 or more yards in Philly in the Eagles’ last three home games than in the previous 36 years. Now that is bad run defense (see story).

8. I should probably say something about Sam Bradford. He did throw for 361 yards and he did make some big throws along the way. But he also threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and he only put 17 points on the scoreboard. I still don’t see the future when I watch him play football. Will the Eagles have a better option? I’m not sure. But I’m not straying from my belief that until they draft a young stud QB and grow with him, they’re not going to be an elite team.

9. One more note on the defense. The Cards racked up 493 yards Sunday. This is the second time this year they’ve given up 490 or more and the sixth time in three years under Bill Davis. The Eagles gave up 490 or more yards once under Jim Johnson. In fact, they’ve allowed at least 490 yards as much in the last three years as in the previous 40 years. The Eagles have now allowed at least 400 yards in five straight games, which ties the fifth-longest streak in NFL history.

10. As bad as the defense has been, the offense hasn’t been a whole lot better. The Eagles have now gone six straight games without scoring more than two offensive touchdowns. Now, two of those games were with Mark Sanchez and one was split between Bradford and Sanchez. Still. The second Dallas game is the only game since Week 6 in which the Eagles have scored more than two TDs on offense. And the last time they scored more than three was the Saints. And get this: The last Eagles wide receiver other than Matthews with 80 receiving yards in a game? Jeremy Maclin. That just about says it all.

Malcolm Jenkins compares Donald Trump to 'a troll on social media'

Malcolm Jenkins compares Donald Trump to 'a troll on social media'

Malcolm Jenkins heard what President Donald Trump had to say Friday. He heard Trump encourage NFL owners to release players who protest during the national anthem. 

It was all pretty familiar. 

"Honestly, it's one of those things that it's no different than a troll on social media that I've been dealing with for a whole year," Jenkins said. "That same rhetoric is what I hear on a daily basis. It hits other people close to home when you see your teammate or a player across the league that you know is a great person, who's out there trying to do their part building our communities and making our communities greater, being attacked. I think that's why you saw the response that you did. Mostly from guys who hadn't been protesting or doing whatever already. 

"But for me, it was just more of what's been happening. Nothing anybody can say is going to stop me or deter me from being committed to bringing people together, impacting our communities in a positive way and being that voice of reason."

Trump's comments Friday in Alabama set off even more protests from around the NFL on Sunday (see story). The day started with the Jaguars and Ravens locking arms. The Steelers didn't even come out of the locker room for the anthem. 

And the Eagles took part too. 

Players, coaches and front office executives locked arms as Navy Petty Officer First Class (retired) Generald Wilson began to belt out the Star-Spangled Banner. The Eagles decided Sunday morning to hold the demonstration. Head coach Doug Pederson called it "an organizational decision." Owner Jeff Lurie, team president Don Smolenski and vice president of football operations Howie Roseman were among those who joined. 

"It meant a lot," said Jenkins, who has been raising his fist during the anthem for a year to protest against racial injustice. "I know Mr. Lurie specifically doesn't go on the field much, so for him to be down there and showing their support in their own ways in important. I was happy to see that league-wide." 

Jenkins has continued his demonstration this year and has been somewhat joined by teammates Chris Long and Rodney McLeod, who have been placing their arms around him in a showing of support. 

It seemed like the entire team sort of did that Sunday. 

"It was nice that it was a team effort," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "That's what we wanted. We just wanted a team effort of everybody standing up for the right thing.

"It was good that we all did it as a team, because I just don't like how they single people out and make it about one or a couple people or a group of people. I'm happy we did it as a team because I back those guys that are putting their career out there. It's tough. You get backlash, people start judging you a certain type of way, and to do it as a team, that's a credit to our owner, and I appreciate that."

For what it's worth, President Trump on Sunday condoned locking arms. He tweeted: "Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!" 

It was clearly Trump's comments Friday that spawned Sunday's near-league-wide demonstration. His comments also elicited responses from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFLPA and many NFL owners, including Lurie

"It's just really a distraction," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "I don't like to get involved in politics and I don't think politicians should get involved in sports. It just creates a lot of noise and distraction that takes away from your main goal of winning games."

"It was interesting," Long said of Trump's comments. "It was interesting that he was so occupied with us."

Because of Trump's comments, Long said, "we're kind of also now protesting the right to protest, which you wouldn't think you'd have to do in this country." 

The only Eagles player who noticeably didn't partake in the showing of unity on Sunday was linebacker Mychal Kendricks. The veteran linebacker claimed his non-participation wasn't some sort of political statement.

"Don't think too deep into that," he said. 

When asked, in the wake of increased demonstrations, if Trump's comments backfired, Jenkins wasn't ready to say that. But he did think Sunday served as a chance to make the demonstrations something that brought unity instead of divisiveness. 

So what's next for the NFL? 

"I'm not sure," Jenkins said. "I know there are multiple guys who have been behind the scenes doing work. Hopefully, we can continue to highlight that and hopefully, it's not a one-week thing. We also know it's not about the protest, it's not about the national anthem. It's really about effecting change in our communities. 

"Hopefully, just like today was a collaborative effort of everybody pulling their resources to send messages and to bring people together, hopefully, that can continue on a micro level in each NFL city, each community and we can really break some walls down and makes some changes." 

‘Like a cannon,’ Jake Elliott sets Eagles franchise record with walk-off FG

‘Like a cannon,’ Jake Elliott sets Eagles franchise record with walk-off FG

Carson Wentz was praying. 

Malcolm Jenkins was keeping an eye on Odell Beckham Jr., worried about the prospect of the superstar getting his hands on the football one last time with offensive linemen trying to tackle him. 

And Donnie Jones, the veteran punter and field goal holder, was on the sideline lobbying head coach Doug Pederson and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp to let them try. 

"I went over and said 'Let's go," Jones recalled. "We can win this thing. I said let's kick this bleep-bleeper and win this game."

A couple minutes later, rookie kicker Jake Elliott exited the field at the Linc in style, hoisted up on the shoulders of Mychal Kendricks and Kamu Grugier-Hill. 

That's the kind of treatment you get when you drill a 61-yard, game-winning field goal.  

"Jake came up and I saw it in his eyes," Jones said. "I knew. I knew he was ready to go out and execute and he did."  

Elliott, whom the Eagles signed before last week's game against the Chiefs after Caleb Sturgis went down with an injury, drilled his 61-yard attempt to give the Eagles a 27-24 win over the Giants on Sunday afternoon (see breakdown). It was a crazy end to a crazy game. 

"It's kind of a blur to me," Elliott said. "I don't really know. All I know is that the ball was in the air for a really long time and [it was] real close to that right upright." 

The Eagles led by 14 until the fourth, then gave up the lead, then found a way to tie it. The 61-yard walk-off was fitting. 

"We knew Jake had pretty good range," Wentz said. "I wasn't sure 61 is doable. You never really think that. But we had a lot of faith in him. I had a lot of faith in him and he got it done." 

The 61-yarder was the longest field goal in franchise history, surpassing Tony Franklin's 59-yard field goal in 1979. It was the longest field goal in the NFL since Matt Prater's 64-yarder in 2013. And there have been just six longer field goals in NFL history (see observations)

All this for a guy who missed a 30-yard chip shot last week. 

"You have to be mentally strong as punters and kickers because bad things happen," Jones said. "It's how you bounce back from that and respond. That's what really makes you the player you are." 

To set up the game-winning kick, the offense first had to get into position. After a poor punt from the Giants, the Eagles got the ball at their 38-yard line with 13 seconds left. The first pass went incomplete and drained six seconds. The next pass was a 19-yard gain to Alshon Jeffery on the sideline. 

It left the Eagles with one second. 

"We only had seven seconds," head coach Doug Pederson said. "So we have calculated in a sideline throw can take anywhere from five to six, and we were right on that mark today.

"It was pretty awesome. It sounded like a cannon off his foot. Great snap, great hold. The protection was there. Awesome.”

The only reason Elliott is even on the Eagles is because Sturgis was placed on injured reserve with a hip injury suffered in the opener. The Eagles worked out a trio of kickers but instead elected to sign Elliott off the Bengals' practice squad. 

The Bengals used a fifth-round pick on Elliott this year. But the Memphis product lost the Cincinnati job to veteran Randy Bullock and was put on the team's practice squad.

While Elliott looked a little shaky in his preseason with the Bengals and even missed his first field goal attempt Sunday, his leg strength has never really been questioned. At Memphis, he made more 50-yarders (10) from 2013-16 than anyone else in the college ranks. 

The longest kick he's ever made came in college, a 56-yarder. In warmups, Elliott said he usually tries "50, 56, maybe 57 and call it a day from there."

Still ... 61 yards? 

It was something special. 

Jones called Sunday the best team win he had ever been a part of. Jenkins said the game was one of the most memorable of his career. Even Jason Peters said this game and the Miracles at the Meadowlands "almost rate the same." There was certainly plenty of drama. 

The idea to carry Elliott off the field on Sunday was actually Najee Goode's. But after the game, he was nowhere to be found. That's when Kendricks stepped in and joined Grugier-Hill to hoist the 167-pound kicker and carry him into the tunnel. 

"I'll take it," Kendricks said. "It was fun. It was cool, man." 

After the kick went through, the capacity crowd of 69,596 erupted and there was chaos on the field. Elliott was at the center of it as the hero of the day (see rookie report)

"It was awesome," Elliott said. "I was just kind of running around, trying not to get hurt."