By Connor Thomas
First of all, you may notice that this edition of the weekly “Day After Digestion” is actually on Tuesday instead of Monday. Well, we were out at the Darren Daulton Foundation’s Golf Outing yesterday and I didn’t get a chance to write it yet. Sorry folks, but when you have a chance to almost hit Randy Wolf with an errant drive at a charity golf event, you’ve got to take it. The good news is now I’ve had TWO days to digest the Eagles’ ugly win in Carolina on Sunday, and boy did I need it. It was one of the stranger games in recent memory for the birds, and there’s plenty to take away from the victory.
In spite of the win, Nick Sirianni’s game plan was absolutely abysmal again on Sunday. The offense felt stagnant for most of the afternoon, and the stat sheet reflected it as well. The run-pass balance was better-ish, but there is still too much being put on Jalen Hurts’ plate. Hurts threw the ball 37 times, compared to 22 rushing plays. That’s about 59.5% pass and 40.5% run, which isn’t awful, unless you consider that the Panthers had given up 245 yards rushing in the previous week. It gets even more head scratching when you look at who got the touches in the rushing game. Hurts was forced to run 9 times, while Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell combined for 13 carries. That’s 46 plays for Hurts in both the passing and running game, with only 13 designed runs for the backs, a split of 6.5% to 93.5% in favor of Hurts. Sirianni also relied way too heavily on the screen game and short passes, which were easily contained by Carolina all day. The game plan has been stale at best and debilitating at worst, and Sirianni needs to show signs of improving soon if he is to be trusted as an NFL play caller.
Darius Slay was traded to the Eagles on March 19th, 2020. That’s 584 days, and 20 games played in midnight green (he was inactive in Week 15 last year). He had a grand total of 1 interception as an Eagle heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Panthers, but he did not end the afternoon at that mark. Slay was every bit of the lockdown corner he was billed as back in 2020 yesterday, intercepting 2 Sam Darnold passes and possibly being the most important player in the Eagles’ 21-18 win. He also put DJ Moore on an island when he wasn’t intercepting passes, holding the Panthers’ WR1 to just 5 catches for 42 yards. It was a textbook performance from a top defensive back, and one that we have been waiting to see for a while now from Slay. To say he has been disappointing so far as an Eagle is unfair, but yesterday was the breakout impact performance that you pay a player of his caliber for. Hopefully he can continue to be a little more of a ball hawk as this season progresses.
Are we sure that Nick Sirianni played Wide Receiver? I’m starting to get a little doubtful. Penalties have killed the Eagles this year, and a big part of that has come from the receivers and their lack of attention to detail. This week, it came by way of a Greg Ward OPI penalty on a DeVonta Smith touchdown, where Ward set a basketball-like screen on a corner that was as blatant as any call you’ll see in the NFL this year. Time and time again there are questions being raised about how the receivers are being coached, and that’s being questioned about a coaching staff that is led by a former receiver. It’s a troubling trend that mirror’s Sirianni’s rough play calling and the team’s lack of discipline. Hopefully, for his sake, Sirianni can right these issues soon.
With 6 more penalties taken against Carolina, the Eagles are still on pace to set the all-time NFL penalties record for a season. Through 5 games, the birds have committed 50 penalties, on pace for 170 on the season which would be a new record. There were slight signs of slowing down on Sunday, but part of that was probably due to the very sloppy nature of play between the birds and the Panthers. Derek Barnett didn’t get flagged for any personal fouls, which is a big win (and a rarity), but there are still some things that need cleaning up. This is something that will have to be a point of emphasis until the team is no longer on pace to be the least disciplined team in the history of football.
For all of their faults in the game, this Eagles team fought. The offense fought somewhat to no avail (despite scoring enough to win), but the defense was absolutely a difference maker. In a game that was an absolute slog from start to finish, the birds never quit. Was it a pretty win? No. Did our NFL Roundup Show take multiple calls from listeners who wanted to fire Nick Sirianni at halftime? Yes. But it should not be overlooked that this team fought for a tough win. When this team hits rough patches this season, and there will be plenty of them, they showed Sunday that at least they won’t lay down and die.