October 2, 2023

Eagles Perfect Season Ends, Fall to Commanders on Monday Night Football


Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the perfect season is over. The Eagles lose their first game of the season 32-21 to the Commanders. So far this season the Eagles have found a way to win, but tonight was a different story. Somewhere the 1972 Dolphins are smiling.

Eagles Run Defense Struggles Again

If there was a weakness of this Eagles team it was pretty well agreed upon that it was their run defense. The Eagles have struggled all year defending the run and tonight was no different. The Commanders used four different ball carriers racking up 152 rushing yards. While the Eagles were able to allow them to only average 3.1 yards per carry in this game, it was their inability to stop them in key moments of the game that hurt them the most. While the Commanders didn’t have many explosive plays by running the ball, they were able to use a ton of clock. At half time they had possessed the ball for about 24 of the 30 minuets in the half. Their goal was to keep Jalen Hurts and this explosive Eagles offense off the field, and they achieved just that.

While most of the blame for tonights game will go to the run defense, the pass defense deserves some blame as well. In the early part of the game the Eagles were playing a soft zone coverage that Heinicke was able to pick apart. The defense as a whole struggled mightily to get off the field on 3rd downs. The Commanders in the first half were 12-15 on 3rd down conversions which is unacceptable. The Eagles missed Avonte Maddox tonight as the Commanders were able to move Terry McLaurin into the slot a lot of the time. McLaurin racked up 8 catches for 128 yards. One of those catches though was a big one against Darius Slay. Slay had a rough night tonight as he was also beat by McLaurin a second time but the ball was picked off by CJ Gardner-Johnson.

To the defenses credit they were able to bounce back in the second half. In the second half the defense held the Commanders to only 6 points and had a interception. The defense gave the offense more than enough chances to win this game but they couldn’t come through.

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers

One of the best parts of the Eagles’ offense this year has been their ability to not give the ball away with turnovers. Going into tonight’s game the Eagles had only turned the ball over 3 times. They doubled their season total to 6 with 3 tonight. The first was a Jalen interception. He was looking deep for AJ Brown and the ball hit him in the hands but he dropped it and the defender was able to make an amazing catch. It would have been an incredibly difficult catch for Brown to make considering there were two defenders on him but it did hit him in the hands. The second turnover was a fumble by Dallas Goedert. This fumble was not Goederts fault as the replay showed that he almost had his helmet ripped off on an obvious face mask penalty that the refs did not call. With the way Goederts head was jolted, it’s understandable that he lost the ball, but because of the no-call, it was still a fumble. The last turnover was a horrible fumble by Quez Watkins. Quez was able to get past the Washington secondary and haul in a deep pass from Hurts. He stumbled after making the catch but was untouched so he got up to start running. When he got up he was not protecting the ball and was hit from behind causing essentially a game-ending turnover. While you can make excuses for the two other turnovers tonight, there is no excuse for this one. The focus for the loss will be the defense, but the offense came up small when it mattered most.

The Eagles big three of Goedert, Brown, and Smith seemed to all collectively struggle to get it going tonight. They all also made a visit to the blue medical tent. Luckily they all returned to the game, but with a short week coming up it will be interesting to see if any of them show up on the injury report.

The Refs

Let me make this clear, the refs are not the reason the Eagles lost the game, but it would be impossible to talk about this game without mentioning them. It was a bad showing from officiating all night. There were some small calls here and there that were not going the Eagles way, but there were three that stood out the most.

The first was the late hit called on CJ Gardner-Johnson. Luckily us watching at home have the benefit of instant replay, but it was extremely clear that when Gardner-Johnson made contact with the ball carrier that he was still in bounds. Luckily for the Eagles CJ was able to get a interception a few plays later, but that could have been a major play in the game.

The next was the no call face mask on the Goedert fumble. If you have been on twitter after the game you have probably seen pictures of this everywhere. When Goedert caught the screen and turned up field his head was jolted to the side causing him to lose the ball. There was a referee looking directly at him but decided to swallow his whistle. This no call made a huge impact as it gave Washington great field position to get a field goal turning a 2 point lead into a 5 point lead.

The last big call was the late hit called on Brandon Graham. This call is up for debate. On one hand you can say that Brandon has to know better and he cant come in late in that situation. On the other you can say that when the ref blew the whistle to call the play dead Graham was already about to touch him and there was no way he could have pulled up. I fall in the later. When the Quarterback is running around or any player is running around and they do not slide you have to touch them to make sure they are down. When the whistle was blown indicating Heinicke had given himself up Graham was already engaged in the motion of trying to hit him. It is not possible for him to stop his momentum and if you listen for the whistle while watching when he hit him, you will see it was not late.

Again, the refs are not the reason the Eagles lost this game, but it played a part.

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