Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

A battle of bitter rivals. Fanbases who despise each other and players who show it all over the field. Two titanous teams battling for division, supremacy and bragging rights that will only last until the next face-off. Man, Ravens versus Steelers is such a great game.

Now what was the rivalry on Sunday Night Football? Ah yes, the Cowboys versus Eagles, the formerly historic matchup-turned-mistake prone and agonizing hour of what can barely be called professional football. A little dramatic? Maybe. 

After losing Dak Prescott for the year, the already ailing Cowboys became a dumpster fire. To put that in perspective, Dallas’ defense ranks last in almost every metric, the offense has been shut down from a touchdown for two straight weeks, Ezekiel Elliott looks like a shell of himself and their quarterback is a seventh-round draft pick who started his first career game on Sunday. 

Making matters worse is the apparent locker room tension boiling as anonymous players recently voiced their concern with new head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff’s “inability to coach” — not a good look. To say the least, it has been a rough season so far for Jerry Jones and the Cowboys faithful. 

One could argue that Philly’s disappointment is not far behind that of Dallas. Since the second half of week one, the Birds have fallen from massive off-season aspirations into a pit of despair and endless questions about the future. Will Carson Wentz ever stop fumbling? When will Howie Roseman hit the mark on draft choices? Can the roster ever stay healthy? Was Frank Reich the play-calling guru in 2017, rather than Doug Pederson? The list goes on and on, yet the team remains atop the division and will likely hold a home playoff game.

The two teams took Lincoln Financial Field with doubts and debates all over them. It was hoped by Eagles fans that Wentz and company could put them to rest against the league’s worst defense. After all, if Wentz is half the elite quarterback we’ve come to expect, he should tear apart such weak competition. Here’s a hint — he didn’t.

On Wentz’s first drive, he went into “hero” mode and refused to throw the ball away, resulting in a strip sack. As fun as that was, he would end the game with another fumble and two interceptions to go along with a pathetic 123 passing yards. This stat line was worse or at least comparable to that of opposing quarterback Ben DiNucci. In fact, DiNucci actually outperformed Wentz in terms of yardage and QBR. It’s not great when your second overall draft choice in his fifth year is being outperformed by a third-string, seventh-round rookie while facing the league’s worst defense. 

The only reason this game wasn’t a paltry 15–9 victory is because of a missed call that gave Rodney McLeod a scoop and score. In the third quarter, Dallas coughed up the ball and Vinny Curry recovered while being touched down. However, the referees let the play go on as the ball was punched out, allowing McLeod to run it all the way in for a touchdown. For Cowboys fans complaining about this mistake, you have bigger fish to fry, believe me. 

But this isn’t about Dallas. This is about the Eagles and their sudden ineptitudes getting louder with each passing week. Wentz continues to play like a rookie who can’t seem to understand when to throw the ball away and live to play another down. The talent in number 11 is undeniable, but his execution and lack of basic mechanics is becoming a restraint to the NDSU alum. 

For all his late-game heroics so far this year, Carson has arguably been the one who dug the hole he needed to climb out of. Sure, the offensive line has been a problem, and losing so many starting receivers is difficult. However, Wentz’s young corps of receivers have been fantastic so far; Greg Ward is as reliable of a player he’s had in the slot, Travis Fulgham is among the top five receivers in the NFL,  Boston Scott continues to impress backing up Miles Sanders and Richard Rodgers has been solid in place of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. 

As for the offensive line, Wentz has dealt with a massive amount of pressure and has taken a lot of hits, yet it cannot be disputed that many of these hits are a result of him holding onto the ball far too long. It’s long been known that if you know you will face too much pressure when you drop back, the coaching staff and quarterback should be planning plays that get the ball out quickly in order to mitigate sacks and hits. Apparently, Wentz and Pederson didn’t get the memo. 

Speaking of the coaching staff — Pederson, what is going on, my man? This is the same guy we beat our chests for while he outdueled the great Bill Belichik on the biggest stage of his career and the guy who called the Philly Special in one of the greatest of Superbowl moments. “He is better than McVay,” we yelled, and should be considered a top-five coach. There is no doubt in my mind that Pederson can inspire his team to fight for him and each other, which is more than McCarthy can say for himself, but his play calling has been lackluster at best since offensive coordinator Frank Reich left following the 2017 season. Was he the offensive genius we all thought Doug Pederson was, or is Pederson struggling to deal with the offensive instability brought to him by an insane amount of injuries? 

The way I see it, Pederson and Wentz are behaving very similarly and can both fix their mistakes. They both seem to be doing too much because of the injuries. They believe they need to play hero and carry the team on their backs in play-calling and backyard football, but the fact is, these guys stepping up are as capable as anyone to fuel an efficient offense if the coach and quarterback could just breathe and trust their teammates. The Birds enter their BYE this week, hoping to get things together as they make the case for a playoff spot. Fly, Eagles Fly.

 

 

Joseph Gill is a second-year English writings major. JG923276@wcupa.edu

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