Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

Brandon Graham Photo taken by All Pro Reels via Flickr.

It finally happened. The dreaded first loss of the Eagles’ season finally reared its ugly head in South Philadelphia on a cold Monday Night. We all knew it was bound to happen at some point; there was no way this team would go an unbelievable 17–0.

Still, it was a reasonable thought given the upcoming schedule seeming to be a fairly simple one. To close out the year, the only true challenges looked to be the Cowboys, Giants and Titans. Aside from them, the W column looked to be a pretty popular pick for the matchups and talk began in and outside of the city that this team could rival the famed 1972 Dolphins in terms of winning percentage. 

Alas, the Birds fell to Washington. Yes, that’s right, the same Washington that was previously called the “Football Team” and is currently called the Commanders. The same team whose owner is under federal investigation and has been running the organization into nothing short of a dumpster fire. 

Many, including myself, believed that a loss was almost necessary to this team’s future success given the issues that had begun creeping up on them. It seemed that through most games, the Eagles could win in spite of the leaky rushing defense. The week prior, in Houston, the Eagles had been gashed by rookie running back Dameon Pierce to the tune of 139 yards on 27 carries. 

Despite Philly coming away with a win, that game established a recipe for other teams to use in order to have the best chance to beat the toast of the NFC: run the ball as much as possible and keep Jalen Hurts off the field. It’s a pretty standard recipe to beat most great offensive teams. Many of those teams, however, are able to overcome this strategy by stuffing the run and forcing the opposing quarterback to outduel their own offensive juggernaut. 

The Eagles, for at least the past decade have been one of the best at stuffing the run, given Howie Roseman’s focus on interior linemen and defensive ends. However, this season they have recently seen that as their biggest weakness, especially after rookie Jordan Davis got injured a few weeks ago.

With the likes of Jonathon Taylor, Saquon Barkely and Derrick Henry lurking in the near future, the Birds will have to improve lest they be continuously gashed as they were on Monday.

To his credit, Roseman went out and grabbed some veteran defensive tackles in Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh in back-to-back days. Two guys who have been fantastic run-stuffers in their day will now look to bolster up a Super Bowl ready team. 

Hurts, to his credit, played well enough to win the game late but was unable to overcome the missed calls and uncharacteristic turnovers his team sustained. A Dallas Goedert missed facemask which resulted in a fumble, and a beautiful deep ball to Quez Watkins which also resulted in a fumble stalled two crucial drives for the Eagles offense late in the game after the defense had finally been able to make some stops. 

A roughing the passer call on Brandon Graham sealed the game after Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke slid down early forcing Graham and Reddick to attempt to defy gravity and fail in doing so by hitting Heineke late. It was a controversial call in a game which had not gone well in the Eagles’ favor on the officiating side of things and could have very well turned the game around if just one had been called in their favor.

Bottom line is that Philly couldn’t get away with a porous run defense this time and are hopefully going to respond well by learning this lesson. We shall see how this team handles adversity. Fly Eagles Fly.

Joseph Gill is a fourth-year English major with a minor in journalism.

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