The Philadelphia Eagles second loss of the season took a toll on the psyche of the City of Brotherly Love. Not only did the Seattle Seahawks make them look pedestrian, but, as Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski had warned before the game, the loss allowed the Minnesota Vikings to take over as the top seed in the NFC.
The Eagles might still be 10-2 but in the view of some fans, this was the beginning of the end.
While any loss stings, the fact is that the Seahawks are next to impossible to beat at home once the calendar hits December. Even the great Tom Brady has struggled in that setting.
Lose this week in Los Angeles, though, and that will be a different story. The Rams (9-3) have been surprisingly good, but they’re not a playoff-tested veteran team like Seattle.
Can the Eagles get back to their winning ways? The answers to these five burning questions — well, four of them, anyway — will tell the story.
Wentz or Goff?
During their rookie seasons, there was a clear disparity between the two. Wentz struggled with the Eagles, but it was in a familiar way. The North Dakota State product, who started from Day One, looked like an NFL quarterback just taking his lumps, the way that so many great throwers before him had.
Goff, though, didn’t play in his team’s first nine games and didn’t look good once he did move under center.
Wentz, not surprisingly, took a giant leap forward this season. The fact that Goff joined him in that leap was a major surprise. Not only are their teams winning, the duo both have stellar stats. The Rams signal caller has been so good that even the notoriously persnickety Philadelphia media has had trouble making a case that Wentz is markedly better.
The NFL would be thrilled to have both continue to progress and start scheduling the Eagles and Rams to play every season, the way that they once did with the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.
Is This A Mirror, Or What?
It isn’t just that Goff and Wentz have been similarly great this season, it’s that the two teams have been eerily similar across the board.
The Eagles and Rams are tied for the league lead in scoring, each averaging 30.1 points per game. Philadelphia is giving up 17.9 points per game to opponents. Los Angeles is allowing 18.5. Philly is fourth in the league in total yards. L.A. is fifth.
The Rams defense is built around one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles in Aaron Donald. The Eagles defense is built around one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles in Fletcher Cox. Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has long been one of the best in the league. If they put coordinators in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, L.A. DC Wade Phillips would be a shoo-in.
The NFL is known as a copycat league, but the similarities between the Eagles and Rams are kind of ridiculous.
Can The Eagles Defense Bounce Back?
By the end of Sunday night’s game, Philadelphia’s defense had seen enough of Russell Wilson. Really, though, that just makes them the same as every other defense that’s traveled to Seattle in December during Wilson’s career.
Chasing the Seahawks’ quarterback all over the field put a strain on the Eagles defensive backfield, leading to a number of penalties. Yes, a number of the flags were of the ticky-tack variety, but Wilson’s ability to extend plays had more to do with it than the referees.
More galling to Philly’s defense is that they gave up over 100 yards on the ground, and 64 of those yards were put up by a running back (Mike Davis) instead of Wilson.
The last time that the Eagles were upset about their run defense, they held Chicago’s Jordan Howard to six yards. The Rams, though, possess a running threat that can be hard to contain.
Not only is Todd Gurley third in the NFL with 939 rushing yards, he’s also caught 48 passes. More impressively, he’s averaging 11.7 yards on those catches. For comparison, stellar Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is averaging 11.6 yards a catch.
The balance that the Rams have with Goff and Gurley makes them hard to stop entirely. After facing Wilson for four quarters, though, the Eagles defense might be ready to take out some frustrations on L.A.’s more standard offense.
Can The Eagles Clean Things Up?
On Monday morning, the Eagles must have had some sore feet. The team spent a lot of their time in Seattle shooting themselves in their collective foot.
They committed seven penalties, most of which kept Seahawks drives going. Wentz missed a wide-open Nelson Agholor on a play that at the very least would’ve put them in scoring position (and, more likely, would’ve been a touchdown).
More alarmingly, for the second consecutive game, a Philadelphia offensive player fumbled the ball at the goal line. Against the Bears, the Eagles scored anyway. When Wentz fumbled out of the end zone in Seattle, though, it let the air out of some momentum the offense was building.
The Eagles are a very good team. Their record is not the stuff of smoke and mirrors. They’re not, however, so good that they can keep overcoming big mistakes.
What Happens If Someone Yells, “Back To One!”?
Eagles fans have been having a field day with a small story about a casting call in Los Angeles. In case you haven’t been following things, the City of Angels hasn’t exactly embraced the Rams since they’ve been back.
After FOX had to fight off NBC to keep the Eagels-Rams game from being flexed to prime time, they want to turn it into a show and are going to have a set at the Coliseum. There’s no doubt that Philly fans will be there but apparently there was a lot of doubt about whether Rams fans would.
With Hollywood just around the corner, the network took a page out of daytime talk shows, and put out a casting call for extras to help balance out the teams’ representation.
To anyone who’s lived in L.A., this just seems normal. For Philadelphia residents, however, the idea of having to find fans is hysterical.