Eagles embarrassed (again) by Dallas Cowboys

Eliot Shorr-Parks
October 20, 2019 - 11:22 pm
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Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said this past week that his team was going to go into Dallas, win the game and emerge in 1st place in the NFC East. 

The result instead was one of the worst losses of the Doug Pederson era. 

The margin of victory might not show it, but considering the spot, the pressure and the opponent, it is hard to think of many losses that have been as bad as the 37-10  beatdown the Cowboys gave Pederson’s Eagles on Sunday night. The Cowboys have now beaten the Eagles in every game that has mattered since the start of last season, and perhpas the most disturbing trend is that the Eagles have not held the lead in any of those games. 

Here are some initial thoughts on the loss that put the Eagles at 3-4 and behind the Cowboys in the NFC East.  

Taking the ball to start: Trying to avoid the slow starts that have plagued this team, head coach Doug Pederson elected to take the ball after the Eagles won the opening kickoff. 

Welp. 

Tight end Dallas Goedert fumbled the ball on the opening drive of the game, giving the Cowboys the ball on the Eagles’ 45-yard line. Six plays later the Cowboys had a 7-0 lead when receiver Tavon Austin ran it in from 20-yards out, ruining any advantage the Eagles thought they might get by taking the ball first. 

Another slow start: Of all the terrible starts to a game the Eagles have had, this one felt and looked like the worst. 

Any number of depressing adjectives could describe the Eagles start to the game. Sloppy and unprepared are likely the best two. The Eagles fell behind 14-0, then when the offense scored to make it a one possession game, the defense gave up 13 more points before the half to allow the Cowboys to walk into the locker room with a 27-7 advantage. 

An updated look at how this team has started games: 

Washington: Behind 20-7

Falcons: Behind 17-6

Lions: Behind 20-10

Packers: Behind 10-0

Vikings: Behind 24-3

Dallas: Behind 14-0

Forget getting a lead — the Eagles need to figure out a way to simply avoid not falling into a major hole to start games. 

Defense: You can debate if it is personnel or if it is coaching. Whatever the issue is, the Eagles’ defense has been terrible the last two weeks to start games. 

A perfect example of the issues that have haunted the Eagles the last two weeks came with just under seven minutes to play in the second quarter. Facing 1st-and-goal from the one-yard line, the Cowboys faked a handoff to Ezekiel Elliott to the left, a fake basically the entire defense bit on. The result was Prescott easily found Jarwin wide open in the right side of the end zone, giving the Cowboys a 21-7 lead.

This performance from the Eagles’ defense had it all — poor tackling, bad penalties, big third-down conversions. The offense is certainly having some issues but the defense holds just as much responsibility in the team’s struggles right now. 

Malcolm Jenkins: It has not been a good two weeks for safety Malcolm Jenkins, who took responsibility for a long touchdown last week agains the Minnesota Vikings, and then got ran over by Ezekiell Elliott in the first quarter on a play that nearly lead to a touchdown.  Jenkins is one of many veterans on the team that have struggled recently. The focus remains on the young cornerbacks, but it is hard to ignore that the team isn't getting much help from the veterans they desperately need to play at a high level. 

Carson Wentz: The Eagles came into the game trying to establish the run, which is somewhat understandable. What didn’t make senses taking the ball completely out of quarterback Carson Wentz’s hands in a huge game on the road. 

Wentz attempted only eight passes in the first half, and while the pass game wasn’t especially productive as it totaled just 51-yards, it was the fact Pederson decided the best way to attack the Cowboys defense was to run the ball that was curious. 

Wentz had some nice moments in the first half, highlighted by his touchdown throw to Goedert on the third possession of the game, a pass he placed perfectly. Pass protection was an issue and clearly impacted Wentz, as he took a sack on 3rd-and-7 with just under three minutes to play in the second quarter. Went either didn’t see the defender coming, which is bad, or didn’t react in time, which isn’t great either. The result was a punt when the Eagles were trying to mount a comeback. The second half didn't go much better for Wentz, who had an ugly interception -- his second in as many weeks -- and let a snap hit right off of his chest and hit the ground for a fumble the Cowboys recovered.

Wentz certainly deserves credit for doing a nice job of trying to make something out of nothing, a situation he was consistently put in due to poor play from the offensive line. Still, it is hard to ignore the fact that once again Wentz wasn’t able to lead his team to a win against the Dallas Cowboys. He has now lost four-of-the-last five meaningful games to Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, a trend no Eagles’ franchise quarterback should want on their resume. 

Offensive line: The Eagles’ offensive line really struggled against the Dallas Cowboys and it basically ruined any chance the team had of passing the ball. 

What was likely especially disappointing for the coaches was that the issues started with right tackle Lane Johnson. Johnson was beaten badly on a strip-sack on the second drive of the game for the Eagles, with defensive end Demarcus Lawrence blowing right by him for a shot right at Wentz as he was about to throw. The turnover eventually became a Cowboys touchdown, giving them a 14-0 lead.

Rookie Andre Dillard was not an issue early on, but he was especially bad towards the end of the second quarter when he allowed pressure on Wentz in back-to-back snaps, killing a drive. 

Coming into the game the Eagles’ offensive line was arguably the strength of the team. When that fell apart on Sunday night, the entire offense did. 

Game over: The Cowboys nailed a 63-yard field goal to end the half, a kick that not only gave them a 27-7 lead, but perfectly summarizes this entire season so far for the Eagles. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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