Roob’s instant observations from Eagles’ ugly win over Cowboys originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Good for the defense for keeping the Eagles in this game and not allowing a touchdown. Good for Travis Fulgham for having another big game. Good for Boston Scott for holding it down in Miles Sanders’ absence.
But come on now. Let’s be honest.
Anybody who watched this game is going to come away with one conclusion: Something is terribly wrong with Carson Wentz, something he and his coaches can’t seem to fix.
Just when you think he’s turned the corner … this happens.
And against this pathetic Cowboys defense, it can’t happen.
A win’s a win, and the 1st-place Eagles have their first two-game winning streak of the year – against two teams that are 3-12. They’re 3-4-1 going into the bye week.
But if they can’t solve the Carson problem, nothing else really matters.
Here’s our 10 Instant Observations off an ugly 23-9 win over the Cowboys at the Linc:
1. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Carson Wentz goes out and does this. Two interceptions, two fumbles, countless brutal decisions. Think about this: The Cowboys had forced three turnovers ALL YEAR. Wentz committed four before the third quarter was three minutes old. He became the first QB since Jameis Winston in 2016 with four turnovers against the Cowboys and only the fourth since 2000. Yeah, he made some throws on that game-winning drive, good for him. But I’m tired of writing about how Wentz overcame a brutal start to rally the Eagles to a win. Do that against the Ravens or Steelers and I’ll be impressed. Against the Giants? Against the Cowboys??? Please. He’s ranged from brutal to mediocre this year, and this one was squarely in the brutal category. This was as bad as he’s ever played for a full game, and that last TD drive doesn’t change that.
2. Just a terrible game for Doug Pederson. Terrible.
Example 1: Why go for it on 4th-and-3 on the Dallas 44 up 7-3 early in the 2nd quarter? This QB isn’t going to drive the length of the field on you. Give him a short field and he has a chance to put up points. Which he did. You’ve got statistically the greatest punter in NFL history. Pin them deep and let your defensive front get after the poor overmatched kid. Worse, the play came in late and the whole operation was rushed. There were six seconds left when the Eagles broke the huddle. The play never had a chance.
Example 2: What on Earth was that 3rd-and-6 call from near midfield in the 2nd quarter that wound up with Greg Ward looking to throw the ball before scrambling around for two yards? You’re facing one of the worst defenses in NFL history. Run your offense. Not the time to try some ridiculous gadget play.
Example 3: How about the 4th-and-1 in the second quarter near midfield? That’s one of the worst run defenses in NFL history on the other side of the ball and you’re dropping Carson back and throwing an out? On 4th-and-1? On a windy night? Carson could have fallen down and gotten the first down. Carson is 15-for-18 on keepers on 4th-and-1 in his career. I like those odds just a little more than a 12-yard out in 35-mph winds.
3. I think we’re at the point Doug has to consider giving up play calling. If you can’t get the offense in a rhythm and generate more than 220 yards, 18 first downs and 15 points against this Cowboys team – which allowed the 8th-most points in NFL HISTORY through seven games – you need to take a long, honest look at the way you’re doing things. I nominate Marty Mornhinweg. He’s always had a nice flair for it. Something has to change because this offense shouldn’t be this putrid. Certainly not against this train wreck of a defense.
4. Let’s talk about Travis Fulghum for a second. What he’s doing is off the charts. This is a kid that was released by three teams – including the Eagles – in the span of a month and after last night’s 6-for-78 with a TD, Fulgham has 29 catches for 435 yards and 4 TDs in five games in an Eagles uniform. This is the best WR play the Eagles have gotten since DeSean Jackson in 2013, back when he was still DeSean. Fulghum is the first Eagles WR with 70 yards in four straight games since DeSean in 2012, only the second since T.O. in 2005. And for it to come in the kid’s first five games is astonishing.
5. That was a really heads up play by Rodney McLeod scooping up the loose ball after the Ben DiNucci fumble. The ball had been free for so long everybody just kind of assumed the play was dead, and it sure looked at first glance like Vinny Curry had recovered the ball. But it was just kind of underneath Vinny and then plopped up in the air and then got kicked by a Cowboys offensive lineman. Sometimes the smart play is to just fall on the ball. But Rodney has some pretty good court awareness and was well aware that there weren’t any Cowboys nearby and the Eagles’ best chance to score at that point was for him to scoop and score. Heads up play by a really good player.
6. Jalen Hurts isn’t as fast as I thought he was.
7. How on Earth do you not record an interception off Ben Freaking DiNucci? This dude had no idea where the ball was even going half the time. He threw 40 passes Sunday night. At least four should have been picked. The Eagles have three INTs all year and six in their last 18 games. They just don’t intercept passes.
8. Brandon Graham has been the Eagles’ best player this year. On either side of the ball. How big was his strip sack on DiNucci? The Cowboys were already up 3-0 and seven yards from taking a 10-0 lead. How often do you see a guy playing his best football in his 11th season? That’s exactly what B.G. is doing. That’s 7.0 sacks now in eight games, just 2 1/2 off his career high. Great guy, great story, great player.
9. I’ve been impressed with John Hightower the last few weeks, but last night he looked like the passive John Hightower of early in the season. On the second Trevon Diggs interception he just kind of stood there for a second instead of trying to touch him down while he was on the ground or tackle him as he started to get up. Diggs wound up with a 33-yard return. That’s just a lack of effort and it’s inexcusable. Aaron Moorehead has spoken about how Hightower has been playing with more toughness, but this game was a big step backwards.
10. T.J. Edwards was terrific in his first game in a month. Had nine tackles, the sack and forced fumble that McLeod returned for a touchdown and a couple tackles for loss. A smart, steady and physical player and he really made a difference last night.