This one was about as ugly as it gets in the NFL. The Eagles lost 38-20 to the Vikings in a game they had chances to win but never looked fully invested in.
The Vikings marched right down the field and scored a touchdown on their opening drive when Kirk Cousins hit Adam Thielen for a six-yard strike. That set a tone that really never reverbed back in Philadelphia’s favor. Cousins, the often-criticized quarterback, looked like the second coming of Fran Tarkenton. He threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, including three momentum-swinging scores to Stefon Diggs.
The Eagles received another solid outing from Carson Wentz. It wasn’t spectacular but should have been enough to win, if only the defense knew how to cover receivers and make third-down stops. Wentz went 26-of-40 for 306 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles’ defense surrendered 447 yards of total offense, with 325 coming through the air.
Vikings 38, Eagles 20: What Went Wrong Sunday in Minnesota
The Eagles Need Secondary Help
It isn’t breaking news that the Eagles own one of the worst secondaries in the NFL, maybe in the history of the league. Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones started at cornerback and proved once again why GM Howie Roseman should be doing everything in his power to acquire Jalen Ramsey. Jones was soundly beaten by Adam Thielen on the game’s first touchdown, then Douglas gave up back-to-back scores to Stefon Diggs. There seemed to be confusion in the secondary, too. Douglas was seen looking around for safety help from Rodney McLeod. Let the finger-pointing begin. This unit has now surrendered 1,681 passing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Carson Wentz Needs a Down-Field Threat
DeSean Jackson isn’t walking back onto the field anytime soon, so the Eagles may want to explore a trade for another receiver. Wentz has no one suited to stretch the defense, relying on safety valves like Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz and Mack Hollins isn’t going to get the job done. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside still can’t get on the field. Wentz doesn’t have a single receiver fast enough to take the top of a defense and it’s hurting the offense. His biggest — and only — downfield threat has been Miles Sanders. The rookie running back once again paced the team with 86 receiving yards.
Doug Pederson’s Play-Calling Needs Work
The head coach has long been praised for his aggressiveness, especially his willingness to dial-up trick plays and go for it on fourth down. Well, the Eagles went 1-for-3 on fourth down against the Vikings and muffed a fake field goal at the end of the first half. The failed trick play wasn’t the reason why they lost this game (far from it) but taking a guaranteed three points off the board didn’t help. The Eagles are clearly missing the genius of former offensive coordinator Frank Reich.
Jason Peters Has Become a Liability
Jason Peters, aka The Bodyguard, is a lock for the Hall of Fame, arguably the greatest left tackle to ever do it. However, the 37-year-old has been slowing down at an alarming rate and leaving games for extended stretches. He left Sunday’s game with a knee injury — an ailment that he had been nursing all week at practice — and gave way to Andre Dillard. The rookie left tackle did not look equipped to fill Peters’ gargantuan shoes. This could be a big problem.
Zach Ertz Needs to Step Up Big Time
When former player-turned-analyst Rob Gronkowski failed to mention Zach Ertz among the best tight ends in football the other day, it infuriated quite a few Eagles fans. Maybe Gronk was dead-on accurate. Ertz finished with four catches for 54 yards and most of those were box-score fillers. The tight end never looks to make contact to extend plays and his costly fumble late in the fourth quarter provided the final nail in the coffin on any possible comeback in Minnesota.
Zach Brown Needs to Shut His Mouth
Yes, everyone laughed heartily when Zach Brown called out Kirk Cousins earlier this week. It was funny — and the way Cousins had been playing, it was kind of true. But the Vikings quarterback answered the bell and delivered a virtuoso performance against the Eagles after throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns. He fell nine yards shy of passing Randall Cunningham on the Vikings’ all-time passing list. Brown was seen grasping at air when Minnesota’s two-pronged rushing attack — Dalvin Cook and Alex Mattison — plowed over him for 104 combined yards. He was also particularly bad in coverage.
Jordan Howard Held to 49 Yards on 13 Carries
The Eagles promised to prominently feature running back Jordan Howard on the ground, but the flow of the game wouldn’t allow it. It wasn’t really Doug Pederson’s fault after his team fell behind by three touchdowns early in the first half. Howard was running effectively as evidenced by his 49 yards on 13 carries, almost 3.8 yards per carry. But the Vikings were scoring in bunches and the Eagles needed to keep up. There wasn’t much patience for a ground-and-pound attack at that point.
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