The Philadelphia Eagles(13-3) had an opportunity to wrap up the NFC East and get the number one seed in NFC on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints(7-9) at Lincoln Financial Field.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they played one of their worst games of the season on offense(season-low 10 points) and fell to New Orleans 20-10.
The Eagles have their first two-game losing streak of the season but can still clinch the number one seed and division with a win over the Giants at the Linc next week.
Gardner Minshew made his second consecutive start for the injured Jalen Hurts(shoulder), and at times, he struggled, and the Eagles’ offense struggled.
Last week, against the Cowboys, Minshew helped the Eagles score 27 points on offense as he threw three touchdowns, but he had two interceptions. This week, he was 18/32 for 274 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
Philadelphia had four three-and-outs to start the game, and Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said the Minshew and offense were not at their best against the Saints.
“Obviously, he’s going to want plays back,” Sirianni said about Minshew. “We’re all going to want plays back, right? I’ll have to look at the tape right there. “Obviously, 23(Lattimore) made a good play on the interception in a critical time on that one. I’ll look at what that really looked like up close. I don’t want to comment yet. Obviously, it wasn’t Gardner’s best game, and it wasn’t our best game as an offense. Not even close, right?
“Gardner is capable of playing better. We’re capable of coaching better, and we are capable of playing better as an entire unit.”
The backbreaker for the Eagles was the pick-6 by Marshon Lattimore in the fourth that gave New Orleans their only points in the second half and put the game away.
A.J. Brown was the target on the interception, and according to Brown, who caught four passes for 97 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown reception, he tried to tell Minshew that New Orleans had changed their coverage on the play.
“It was initially a press [coverage],” Brown said. “I was trying to get [Eagles QB] Gardner’s [Minshew] attention to look up, but he never looked back at me. [Saints CB Marshon Lattimore] actually caught it right out, and he basically doubled me on the play.”
Here’s how Minshew explained the play:
“We ran that same play earlier and it was the same coverage and they made a great adjustment to jump the route,” he said. “I should have seen that leverage when we made the motion. I assumed since it was the same coverage, [Saints CB Marshon Lattimore] was going to play it the same, but he made a great adjustment and made the play to beat us.”
Despite the loss, Brown says there’s no pressure on the Eagles.
“There’s still no pressure,” he said. “We’ve got to go out and play ball. We’ve got to go out and execute. Today was just unacceptable.”
Now, the Eagles have to hope they can get Hurts back against the Giants, and according to Sirianni, he’s close to returning.
“He was close this week,” Sirianni said. “Obviously, we will take it one day at a time. I mean, for me to say right now and today that, yeah, Jalen is playing or, no, he is not playing, I don’t think is fair to anybody because so many things can happen in a week. We’re going to have to evaluate and see where he is. Nothing changes in that aspect of it. His health is the No. 1 priority, and not putting him in a position that is going to risk his health.
“We’ll evaluate that as the week goes. Obviously, if he’s ready to go, he’ll play.”
It’s clear that the Eagles need Hurts to be on the field for this offense to flourish. At this point, Hurts is the system! In reality, barring a collapse, the Eagles should be able to get the top spot in the NFC. Their Week 18 opponent, the Giants, who clinched a playoff berth on Sunday, have nothing to play for as they are locked into the sixth seed, so they might only play a few of their starters, which bodes well for Philadelphia.
Following a seven-sack performance on Sunday (2nd-highest total this season), Philadelphia has now totaled a team-record 67 sacks. Only four teams have posted more sacks in NFL single-season history – the 1984 Bears (72), 1989 Vikings (71), 1987 Bears (70) and 1985 Giants (68).
The Eagles are the first team since 1982 to post six-plus sacks in five consecutive games.