By Dylan MacKinnon
As exciting as week one was, the week 2 game vs the 49ers was equally dull. Eagles fell 17-11, and seemed to have nothing going on offense for large parts of the game. We said to expect some down games from a young Qb and a rookie head coach, and that is what we got. Jalen Hurts failed to get to 200 passing yards, and Nick Sirianni’s play calling is fairly being questioned by media and fans. But what can we take away from the loss? Here are the 5 Numbers that tell the story of why the Eagles lost.
Outside of the big 91-yard pass to Quez Watkins, the Eagles had only 99 yards through the air. That’s an average of 4.5 yards per passing play. As impressive as a play as that was, it was pretty much the only impressive play through the air all game. In fact, there were only 4 passing plays that went for double-digit yards. Part of that is on Hurts. But that is also on the coach and the WRs. After a really impressive game plan on week 1, the play-calling this week was stale. They were not getting anyone open in space, and Hurts had a hard time making tight-window passes. There was one other potential big play where Hurts made a great throw, but it was negated because Reagor had stepped out of bounds. Eagles showed no ability to move the ball through the air outside a small handful of plays. A big difference from week 1 where it felt like every pass been was moving them downfield. We shouldn’t panic, but it is a sign there is a lot of work for both Sirianni and Hurts before we anoint them as successes.
Jimmy Garropolo started the game 3 for 6, and the 49ers had three 3 and outs. After those drives, Garropolo was 19 for 24 (79.2%). He started the game looking like a deer in the headlights. But then the Eagles pass rush was stopped, and Garroplo looked mostly comfortable the rest of the game. He wasn’t making huge plays, but he doing enough to keep the 49ers on the field, and more importantly keep the clock running. The Eagles did not give up many points, but they had a hard time getting the 49ers off the field later in the game. This game is more on the offense than the defense, but it at times felt similar to the old Jim Schwartz defenses. Not forcing turnovers, and letting the other team have the ball for too long. The game ended with the 49ers kneeling on the ball. Some more incompletions that stopped the clock may have made a difference.
Nick Sirianni had used his final timeout with 5:12 left in the game. There is no way around it, that is poor time management. Not only did it mean they were helpless at the end of the game and couldn’t stop the clock, but it also would have meant they couldn’t challenge a play late in the game if they needed to. He used his timeouts up way too early, and in a close game, that made a difference. After the 49ers got a first down on the last drive, and got to the 2-minute warning, the Eagles were unable to stop the clock. Eagles scored in a minute on the prior drive, perhaps if they could have stopped the clock there, they would have gotten it back, and had a chance to win it with a quick TD. But, none of that happened. Because they had no timeouts. It was the mistake of a rookie head coach. He can’t let it be a pattern.
If you want a positive to take away from this game, they were once again stout vs the run. I mentioned last week how after getting gashed on the ground in the first two drives that they ended up shutting down the run the rest of the game. Going back to the third Falcons drive in week 1, the Eagles have only allowed 3.02 yards per run. The 49ers had 117 yards on the ground, but that was across 38 attempts. They held the 49ers primary RB, Elijah Mitchell, to 42 yards on 17 carries. That’s 2.5 per attempt. A strong run defense seems to be something the Eagles will be able to lean on.
I hate to ding the defense again, but through two games they have forced 0 turnovers. It was an issue all last year and has been an issue so far this year. Teams that are successful are teams that force turnovers. The last 5 Super Bowl Champions were all top 10 in Takeaways. On the bright side, 0 is also the number of turnovers they have. So for now they are breaking even in the turnover game. But if the Eagles are to be a top defense, they will need to make some plays. They have yet to do that.