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Ten Day-After Observations from Eagles Loss

It was another big rush game from Eagles offense, but defense failed to deliver much against Justin Herbert
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PHILADELPHIA – While the Eagles showed some progress in losing to the Los Angeles Chargers, 27-24, there are no moral victories.

So, let get right to my 10 day-after thoughts:

Another surprise rushing game. Yes, the Chargers were the worst run defense in the NFL, and it showed. Still, it was somewhat of a surprise that the Eagles followed up a 46-run game in Detroit with another 39-run game. It’s the first time they have had 39-plus runs in back-to-back games since Sept. 24, 2017-Oct. 1, 2017.

Helpless feeling. Jalen Hurts could only watch as the defense let the Chargers run 15 plays after the game-tying drive to kick the game-winning field goal with two seconds left. Hurts never got a chance to lead a game-winning drive.

What was Hurts thinking as time ticked away?

“It’s very tough,” he said. “For me, I always look at it as what could I have done better to change the outcome of a game. That’s how I look at it every time. You look at every opportunity you have and taking advantage of very opportunity… Those are the things on my mind right now, things that I didn’t do to help this team win this football game."

Jordan Howard and the roster. Finding a way to add the veteran RB to the roster this week would feel like a must, especially with Miles Sanders out at least one more week.

Howard led the offense with 71 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries (4.2 avg). It was his highest rushing output since running for 82 yards on Nov. 3, 2019, vs. the team that drafted him, the Chicago Bears. He has scored rushing TDs in seven of his last 12 games played with the Eagles and has nine touchdowns in that span. His three rushing scores in a two-game span are the first time he’s done that since Sept. 26 and Oct. 6, 2019.

Tight end damage. Linebackers T.J. Edwards and Davion Taylor led the team in tackles with 12 and eight, respectively, but nobody could cover L.A.’s tight ends. Jared Cook, Donald Parham, Jr., and Stephen Anderson combined for 11 receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Anderson had four catches for 39 yards and a TD. He had five catches all season and it was his first score of the year and just the fourth in his career now in its sixth season.

Miles Sanders’ days could be numbered. The Eagles RB hasn’t really been missed. Not with the way the ground game has taken flight with him on Injured Reserve. Howard, Boston Scott, and rookie Kenny Gainwell have stepped in nicely.

Gainwell scored his third rushing TD of the season, a 1-yard plunge that gave the Eagles a 17-16 lead with 3:10 to play in the third quarter. Overall, it was his fourth TD of the season.

Only Corey Clement (five in 2017) has recorded more offensive TDs among Eagles rookie RBs in their first 9 games.

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The 80 percent threshold. There’s only one quarterback left on the Eagles’ schedule who can complete 80 percent of his passes, and that’s Dallas’ Dak Prescott, who already did it and is one of five who have so far on this Eagles defense.

Of course, with the way this defense plays, though, it cannot be entirely ruled out even though the QBs left on the schedule are Denver’s Teddy Bridgewater, New Orleans’ Trevor Siemian, New York Giants’ Daniel Jones (twice), New York Jets’ Mike White, or maybe Joe Flacco or Zach Wilson, and Washington’s Taylor Heinicke (twice).

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Eagles allowed just six quarterbacks to complete 80-plus percent of their throws (minimum 25 attempts) between 1950-2020. Justin Herbert (32-for-38) became the fifth to do it this year alone.

Sackless. Maybe it would have helped if the Eagles had an actual pass rush. They didn’t have a single one and never got close to Herbert, except for the one time Steve Nelson hit him low and was penalized. The he-got-the-ball-out-quick defense is tiresome. There has to be a way to disrupt rhythm.

Herbert had been sacked in every game this year until Sunday. The Patriots sacked him three times the week before and he had been sacked 14 times overall this year.

It looked like defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon blitzed more early in the game, and maybe that’s the answer to disrupting the timing. The blitzes, though, never came close to getting home, and therein perhaps lies part of the issue – lack of personnel.

Dime defense. With nine cornerbacks, maybe flooding the field with extra defensive backs would help take away time and space of receivers. Four were inactive on Sunday: Josiah Scott, Tay Gowan, Mac McCain, and Kary Vincent, Jr.

Where’s the growth? Jalen Reagor played 29 snaps, 51 percent. He had one catch and it lost six yards. Yes, it was a run-heavy offense, but in the last four games, he has had four catches for 19 yards and one TD.

Much could be said for Quez Watkins. The deep ball was supposed to be part of the arsenal with his speed. Where’s it been lately?

Boos poured down. The only time punter Ty Long had to take the field was at halftime when he tried to warm up with long snapper Matt Overton. They got booed off the field while the Marines were doing their very disciplined rifle drill to help celebrate Veterans Day.

The Chargers never needed Long in the game since the Eagles never forced a punt. It was the second time this season the defense couldn’t make an opponent punt. The first time was against the Kansas City Chiefs, who, of course, scored touchdowns on seven of their eight possessions that day.

The only time they didn’t score was when Eric Wilson intercepted Patrick Mahomes. Wilson is now with the Texans after being released last week.

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.