PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles kept fighting after another awful start but the hill was too steep to climb this week against the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A 28-7 laugher became a one-score nail-biter in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady put his foot down, leading the Bucs on a clock-draining final drive that had Tampa in victory formation inside the Eagles' 10-yard line.
The final was 28-22 but the game was far more lopsided than the final score indicated.
Any hope of a trap game for the Buccaneers was a trap itself as the reigning Super Bowl champs overcame a short week on the road, along with a number of injuries to dispose of the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in a game the most optimistic would have trouble explaining how the glass is half full.
In a so-called KISS (Keep it simple stupid) week where NFL teams default to their DNAs it's still hard to ascertain what exactly the Eagles' young coaching staff was trying to accomplish.
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The discipline - The oft-penalized Eagles were only flagged once in the first half, a Miles Sanders' unnecessary roughness penalty. They finished with four penalties, including a key Genard Avery taunting penalty on the last drive but that's actually a vast improvement over the first five games.
Jalen Hurts' mobility and perseverance - The Bucs generated a ton of pressure but only two sacks because of Hurts' escapability. Unfortunately, the second-year QB was so spooked by Shaq Barrett and Co. when he did escape he was either unable to throw the ball accurately too often or faced too much speed from the Bucs' linebackers to break off big runs.
Like last Sunday in Charlotte, Hurts made enough big plays to somehow get the Eagles back in the game.
Jalen Reagor's Torrey Smith-like abilities: Reagor generated 95 yards on pass-interference calls. His penchant for drawing the yellow flag was the key on the first two Eagles' scoring drives and by the time the second one was over with 2:15 left in the third quarter the Eagles' offense had just inched ahead of his penalty total with 102 total yards.
Nick Sirianni's offense - The goal of offenses in the modern NFL is to generate touches for playmakers in space. Whatever Sirianni is trying to accomplish with this RPO-driven attack is simply not accomplishing that goal. Too much of the success is unscripted and can never be the foundation aspect of any offense because of its unpredictability.
Jonathan Gannon's defense - The Eagles have too often been sticking with generic zone coverage vs empty sets leaving big-time receivers like Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown matched up with linebackers. Meanwhile, the bend but don't break philosophy can't co-exist with poor tackling from the linebackers which brings us to the next bullet point:
Yards after contact against the linebackers - Somewhere in the bowels of Lincoln Financial Field Leonard Fournette just bounced off another Eagles' LB.
The pass rush - The Eagles got going in Carolina due to the front four. Against Tom Brady's quick release and a stellar offensive line, the dominance was gone and calling the Philadelphia back seven ordinary at this point is probably being kind.
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze