Blame Eagles’ loss to Chiefs for poor defense, red zone failures and referee errors | 6 takeaway meals
PHILADELPHIA CREAM – Despite encouraging performances from quarterback Jalen Hurts and wide receiver DeVonta Smith, the Eagles were once again eliminated Sunday in a 42-30 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Lincoln Financial Field.
Andy Reid made history at the expense of the Eagles, becoming the first head coach to win 100 games with two separate teams. The former Eagles head coach baffled the opposing defense with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes attacking the Philadelphia high school with ease. The Chiefs totaled 471 yards, six scored shots and zero punters, as they rubbed the Eagles nose (or beak) into their own gaps.
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While the Eagles offense showed signs of life throughout the first three quarters – even with the last-minute absence of right tackle Lane Johnson – the inconsistency in the red zone, as well as a handful of Ridiculous penalty calls, destroyed their hopes of staying even with the Chiefs’ powerful offense.
The Eagles may hang on to the fact that their offense isn’t completely inept, but for the most part, their lack of discipline, both on the pitch and in the play-calling department, will continue to slow their momentum until that they solve the two glaring problems.
Here are six observations from Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs:
Sirianni’s struggles in the red zone force the Eagles to settle down (and lose)
The Eagles scored in their first three offensive series. While the Eagles were able to move the ball well to open the game, the offense was content with field goals on two of the three drives. Sirianni’s play call was lackluster in the red zone, especially after the team had favorable first downs in goal positions, and the play caller just couldn’t come up with a fix.
The Eagles did a great job preparing the Chiefs’ defense, realizing they could take advantage of a distinct weakness in the dish for some big yardage gains after catch. The injuries seemed accurate for the most part, but once the Eagles entered the red zone they stalled due to penalties and questionable decisions regarding personnel and play calls.
Sirianni’s desire to have wide receiver Greg Ward in the red zone package bit the Eagles hard, as Hurts punched Ward in the hands for a touchdown in the second quarter, but the wide dropped the pass. There was also a swing pass to running back Miles Sanders that was counted as a run, which failed miserably and put the Eagles in a third and goal situation from the 7-yard line. In the end, the Eagles were content with a field goal, as the Chiefs continued to score touchdowns.
Trading touchdowns for field goals will never lead to success against the Chiefs.
Referees likely emptied the Eagles of a touchdown
In a game of fourths and 1s, the Eagles made a natural choice play down the right side of the field, as tight end Zach Ertz crossed paths with wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Hurts hit Ertz in stride as he rushed towards the end for a touchdown. However, the game was called up as Arcega-Whiteside was called up for offensive pass interference, despite being entangled with a Chiefs wide receiver, who could have been called out for holding.
Sirianni was livid as the Eagles were forced to settle for a 31-yard field goal instead of earning seven points. This referee error follows an unsolicited passing interference in the end zone at the start of practice.
Even after the Eagles scored the field goal, Sirianni continued to chat with the refs in a heated discussion. Sirianni must have been away from officials at one point. The four point difference between a touchdown and a field goal impacted both teams’ play in the second half.
The Eagles had three touchdowns recalled due to penalties, but Ertz’s was clearly a bad call.
Jalen Hurts bounces back in an encouraging effort
The polarizing quarterback got lucky in the second quarter when he threw a misguided pass down the sideline with a pass to the face. Initially, the referees signaled an interception on the play, but it was called off after an examination as the ball touched the ground before cornerback DeAndre Baker could secure it.
Other than that incident, Hurts was largely successful on quick throws. He adjusted his receivers relatively well and threw the ball around the pitch. Hurts finished the first half with 217 passing yards and a touchdown after connecting on 18 of 24 passes. He led three scoring campaigns in the first half, although the team were forced to settle for goals on the pitch. Hurts would have had two touchdown passes in the first half to tight end Dallas Goedert if tackle Andre Dillard hadn’t been called up for a penalty that wiped out play in the second quarter.
Hurts targeted eight different receivers and connected on at least one completion with each of them. While he continued to hold the ball too long at times, he was the least of the Eagles’ issues against the Chiefs. He completed 32 of 48 for 387 passing yards and two touchdowns and 47 rushing yards in eight carries.
Hurts’ performance was encouraging after his terrible outing against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3.
Jonathan Gannon had no answers for Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid
Reid brought a feeling of coming back with him to Philly. He called his trademark in spades on a pair of first-half touchdowns and the Chiefs offense went like the Eagles of its day, if not better. Kansas City scored touchdowns in their first three series.
Mahomes was unstoppable throughout the first half as he would clear tough thirds situations with his arms and legs. He used his weapons, especially the wide Tyreek Hill, as he sliced through the Eagles’ defense.
Mahomes’ only stroke that day came in an interception in the third quarter. He took pressure from defensive end Josh Sweat and threw a pick to linebacker Eric Wilson. This interception led to another home goal for the Eagles.
Mahomes finished 24 of 30 for 278 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. He also ran 26 yards on five carries. He led six goals against the Eagles defense and the Chiefs didn’t kick at all.
Hill caught 11 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs also ran for 200 yards.
The offensive line holds up, for the most part
The Eagles’ makeshift offensive line did its job on Sunday. While Dillard was called up for two big penalties in the first half (outfit and illegal man down the line), the line did a good job giving Hurts time to work. With just one Week 1 starter – Jason Kelce at center – on the line, the Eagles could have collapsed, but they didn’t falter.
Hurts has only been sacked three times against the Chiefs, and the line has done a relatively good job in close-range situations. It could have been a massacre, but the line, which included backups like Nate Herbig and Jack Driscoll, held on, for the most part. It’s an impressive result considering the circumstances leading up to the game with Johnson’s last minute absence.
DeVonta Smith looks like the real deal
While it’s tough to take a loss and chase silver liners, first-round pick DeVonta Smith appears to be a legitimate NFL receiver. Hurts went steadily to Smith against the Chiefs and he delivered, capturing seven passes for 122 yards.
Smith drove some good roads, looked strong with the ball in his hands, and used his impressive catch radius to make a pair of revealing plays.
The Eagles were able to stay in a game in which most believed they would be beaten, in large part because of the Smith-Hurts connection. That’s an encouraging sign as the Eagles look to end their three-game losing streak next week against the Carolina Panthers.
Goedert and running back Kenny Gainwell also played very well. Both scored touchdowns as the main attacking contributors. Goedert caught five passes for 56 yards and one scoring, while Gainwell had 89 total yards and a rushing touchdown.
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Mike Kaye can be reached at [email protected].