A breakdown of my five top reasons for the Eagles’ 27-20 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday.
Doug Pederson says the run game is broken and needs to be fixed. Maybe it does, but how the hell would he know?
In the first two games, 101 of the Eagles’ 134 offensive plays have been pass plays. Calling your run game broken after just 33 plays is like saying your new car doesn’t work before you’ve even pulled it out of the lot.
Eagles running backs had just 13 carries Sunday in a game in which they never trailed by more than three points until 6½ minutes remained. Darren Sproles had 10 of those carries for 48 yards, but he ran the ball just three times in the second half.
In the second half, Pederson called a crazy 38 pass plays and just five runs. Five!
I don’t care if your run game is effective or not. You’ve got to use it to at least keep teams semi-honest.
At this rate, Carson Wentz, who has attempted 85 passes in the first two games, is going to need Tommy John surgery by Halloween.
The two turnovers
When you’re on the road, particularly against a team that’s better than you, you’ve got to protect the football. The Eagles turned it over twice Sunday, once on a rare fumble by Sproles on a punt return, and the second on a killer ricochet interception thrown by Carson Wentz with the game tied in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs converted the two turnovers into 10 points – a 39-yard Cairo Santos field goal off Sproles’ fumble, and a 15-yard touchdown by Travis Kelce on a well-executed shovel pass after Wentz’s interception.
Before Sunday, Sproles hadn’t lost a fumble since 2014 and had just 11 lost fumbles in his long career. Chiefs long snapper James Winchester got his helmet on the ball and popped it out of Sproles’ left arm.
The Wentz interception was another weird play. The Chiefs’ front seven pride themselves on getting their hands on passes. But the interception actually came on a throwaway.
The Eagles had called a screen to Sproles, but the running back tripped over center Jason Kelce’s leg as he was trying to get into space. Wentz meant to throw it away low in Sproles’ vicinity. But it hit linebacker Justin Houston in the helmet and bounced right into the hands of defensive end Chris Jones. The Chiefs scored on their next two possessions.
The left guard
For those of you campaigning for Isaac Seumalo to replace Jason Kelce as the starting center, you might want to put on the brakes just a little.
Seumalo, the Eagles’ starting left guard, had a very tough day against the Chiefs. The kind of day that makes you wonder how much thought Doug Pederson, offensive coordinator Frank Reich and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland are giving right now to the possibility of replacing him with one of the team’s two veteran backup interior linemen, Stefen Wisniewski and Chance Warmack.
By my count, Seumalo gave up at least three of the six sacks of Wentz. He also had his problems on the few occasions the Eagles ran the ball and had a costly false start in the fourth quarter on a second-and-2 in the red zone. The drive stalled, and the Eagles had to settle for a game-tying field goal rather than a potential go-ahead touchdown.
Oh, those third-and-longs
For the second straight week, the Eagles found themselves in way too many third-and-longs. Last week against the Redskins, Wentz was able to dig the offense out of a good many of those holes.
But the Chiefs have a much better defense than Washington, both up front and on the back end, even with the loss of Eric Berry.
A staggering 12 of the Eagles’ 15 third downs Sunday were 7 yards or more. The final numbers show that they converted eight of their 15 third-down opportunities, which is very good. But that number is skewed since four of those third-down conversions came late in the game after the Chiefs took a 27-13 lead and were playing the ever-popular prevent defense.
Before that, the Eagles managed to convert just two of nine third downs of 7 yards or more. Wentz’s passing numbers on those nine third downs: 1-for-7, 12 yards, one sack, one passing first down, and that ricochet interception, which came on a third-and-12.
The big run
The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same for the Eagles. Like third-and-longs. And like a tendency to give up backbreaking run plays that spoil an otherwise decent performance.
Last year, the Eagles allowed 30 runs of 15 or more yards. Only San Francisco (42) and Miami (32) yielded more.
On Sunday, they were doing an excellent job of shutting down Kareem Hunt and the Chiefs ground game until Hunt bolted through the right side of the defense late in the third quarter and sped 53 yards for a touchdown that erased a short-lived Eagles lead.
Before that, Hunt, who had rushed for 148 yards against the Patriots in Week 1, had just 8 yards on seven carries. Six of those seven carries had gained 2 yards or less.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz used sort of a funky front on the first-down play. He had linebacker Nigel Bradham lined up wide right as a standup end, with rookie defensive end Derek Barnett inside next to Beau Allen. Barnett and Allen angled left as soon as the ball was snapped. Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher easily took Barnett out of the play, and tight end Travis Kelce did a nice job of blocking Bradham to the outside.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins came up to try to fill the sizable gap, but right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif smothered him. The other safety, Corey Graham, and the cornerback on that side, rookie Rasul Douglas, both took poor angles and could only watch helplessly as Hunt flew by.