The Eagles lost both their game to Washington on Sunday, and what felt like half their team.
Wendell Smallwood got hurt, so Nelson Agholor had to return kicks.
Darren Sproles got hurt too, on this play, which left Ryan Mathews as the only healthy running back. (Mathews is barely healthy, himself.)
Long snapper Jon Dorenbos hurt his wrist, so Brent Celek had to step in to long snap. His first snap on a field goal attempt went sideways, leading to a turnover on downs.
Brandon Brooks was sick and missed the game, so Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski had to both start at guard. Allen Barbre, who moved from guard to tackle because of injuries and suspensions the last few weeks, got hurt too, so Matt Tobin had to fill in at right tackle, the team’s fourth right tackle of the season.
That didn’t end well.
The Eagles lost by five points, falling 27-22. They were in field goal range when the game ended, and while the game situation could have been totally different had the Birds hit the field goal on that botched snap by Celek, a field goal could have won the game on the last drive, when Ryan Kerrigan strip-sacked Carson Wentz after beating Matt Tobin one-on-one at the line.
Why Tobin would ever be asked to block Kerrigan one-on-one is a valid question. So, too, is the question of why center Jason Kelce can’t long snap. Is it that different from a shotgun?
That’s the question everyone asked when Celek got hurt on punt coverage — after a perfect snap — leaving the Eagles with no idea who was going to snap on special teams.
The Eagles do not have three long snappers. No teams do. (Again…Kelce?!?)
Mychal Kendricks and Trey Burton practiced long snapping on the sidelines, and ultimately Doug Pederson went with Burton for a field goal attempt. It was high, but thanks to punter/holder Donnie Jones, it was good.
The Eagles cannot blame this loss on injuries, but certainly losing any of their injured starters would be tough for a team to recover from. Losing all of them? Well, that’s just ridiculous.
And yet, the Eagles fell to Washington Sunday in the most winnable of losses this season.
DeSean Jackson’s 102 yards and a score on three catches was a big story, again torching his old team as rumors swirl the Eagles may be interested in bringing their former star wide out back next season.
Jackson’s day was only a part of the reason why Washington won. Mostly, this loss was on the Eagles.
Wentz finished with 314 yards on 32-of-46 passing with one touchdown and one interception, but the interception was a killer, as Wentz tried to force a ball into the end zone after a near touchdown to Jordan Matthews.
The interception took at least three points away, maybe seven, and in a game decided by one score, that’s a killer. Wentz said after the game that he and Ertz “weren’t on the same page” on that play, as Ertz may have been looking for a back shoulder throw, and Wentz expected him to cut in front of the defender.
That said, the game didn’t end on that interception. Somehow the miscommunication between Wentz and Ertz wasn’t as bad as Ertz being called for a block in the back on a punt return that Sproles took back for a touchdown.
The Eagles ended that drive with no points. Two plays later, Jackson scored his touchdown and the game flipped on its head for Pederson and company.
Washington wasn’t without mistakes too. Though they scored touchdowns on three of their six drives in the second half, one ended in an interception, which the Eagles returned for a touchdown.
Sunday’s loss, though, was indicative of how the season has gone for the Eagles. Games they should win but don’t, be it because of a lack of depth or silly mistakes. Or both. Pederson said he thought it was Wentz’s best game of the season, the way he battled adversity, pointing out the team is down to their fourth right tackle.
“This team responded,” Pederson said. “This team did an outstanding job today. We fought all the way to the end. This is a resilient group. I’m honored to be leading those guys. We fought all the way to the end. Any loss in this league is tough. The way the guy fought and battled to the end makes it tough.”
There was a slim chance the Eagles could win out and mathematically still be alive for the playoffs. That’s dead now. It’s officially time for Pederson to see what he has for next year. If he even has enough players to field a team next week.