PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles have lost their way.
Their defense can’t seem to stop anything or anybody and their offense continually stubs its toe in the red zone.
Against the Chiefs they need to score touchdowns rather than kick short field goals, which Jake Elliott did, converting from 29, 25, and 31 yards, distances all less than an extra point.
This team appears to have a long way to go to find the win column, though sometimes appearances can be deceiving.
Here are some observations from their third straight loss and it’s not all bleak:
- Javon Hargrave can’t do it all by himself, though the defensive tackle isn’t getting much help from those around him. He totaled a team-high fifth sack of the season and is the first NFL tackle to have five sacks through four games since Geno Atkins had five in 2012.
Hargrave is the first Eagles player to have five sacks through four games since Jason Babin had seven in 2011.
- Fletcher Cox played his third game this season without recording so much as a single-assisted tackle. It can’t all be double-teams for the reason, can it?
- DeVonta Smith had his first 100-plus receiving game, but it won’t be his last. The rookie had seven receptions for 122 yards. He would have had a 34-yard touchdown but stepped out of bounds, much the same way teammate Jalen Reagor did to negate what would have been a 36-yard TD against the 49ers.
“I just need to squeeze and hold my line,” said Smith. “I got pushed too far to the sideline, so I just need to squeeze and hold my line and that will not happen.”
Still, Smith now leads the Eagles with 237 receiving yards, which are the most by an Eagle in their first four career games since DeSean Jackson had 327 in 2008.
- If Miles Sanders isn’t careful, he may soon find his snaps reduced to make more playing time for rookie Kenny Gainwell.
Sanders had just 13 yards on seven runs, adding three catches for 34 yards.
Gainwell had 31 yards on the ground with just three runs, adding six catches on eight targets for 58 yards. He made a key 12-yard catch on a fourth-and-two call from the 20 in the first quarter.
Gainwell did a nice job working his way underneath the coverage and wasn’t the first option on the play.
“It was part of [QB] Jalen’s [Hurts] progression,” said the fifth-round pick from Memphis. “He knows where to throw the ball, and where to get it too. He saw [me] wide open and Jalen did a great job on that.”
Jalen Hurts accounted for 434 total yards of offense. He threw for a pair of scores and a career-high 387 yards. Afterward, head coach Nick Sirianni called it one of the better QB performances he had been around, noting that he also coached Phillip Rivers and Andrew Luck.
"He battled," said the coach. "He made good decisions with the football. He got out of trouble when there was trouble. He made good checks. He made good reads. That's the best I've seen him in practice. That's the best I've seen him in a game since I've been here. Hats off to Jalen, he battled. That's going to be important for us moving forward."
- The Eagles had a nice-looking opening drive, that had three straight first downs with completion to Zach Ertz, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert, fizzled after the Eagles lined up to go for it on fourth-and-three from the 11. With the play clock winding down, and the Eagles still moving, they called timeout and sent in field goal unit. Elliott made a 29-yarder but why take a timeout? A delay of the game would’ve made the try a still very makable 340-yard try. Seemed like a wasted timeout.
- The Eagles finished their second drive with a TD, thanks in part to Gainwell, but it was a drive that began with four straight first downs – an 11-yard run from Gainwell, a 12-yard run by Jalen Reagor, a 12-yard completion to Quez Watkins, and a 10-yard catch from Sanders.
- The two impressive first-quarter drives collected 158 net yards for the Eagles offense, their most in an opening quarter since Jan. 3, 2016, at the New York Giants when they had 168.
- Jason Kelce must be an alien. As offensive linemen fell all around him last year and again this year, he made his 109th straight start. It’s something the veteran center doesn’t like talking about for obvious reasons, but he is now the only member of the OL to play every game this season and it took just three games for that to happen.
Right tackle Lane Johnson was scratched just an hour or so prior to kickoff due to a personal matter.
The Eagles offensive line looked like this against KC:
RT: Jack Driscoll, who just came off IR on Saturday.
RG: Nate Herbig
LG: Landon Dickerson, who will likely continue there for the season, provided he can stay healthy.
LT: Andre Dillard.
And you know what? They played OK. Credit OL coach Jeff Stoutland and a strong game plan from head coach Nick Sirianni that got the ball out quick.
- As well as the OL line adjusted to the absences, it surrendered three sacks and Dillard was called for four penalties, two of which were being illegally downfield. One of those took a touchdown off the board. The backup left tackle also was caught holding and for an illegal formation.
- Both teams could have made their punter inactive since neither team punted. The last time the Eagles didn’t punt in a game was Nov. 15, 1981, against Baltimore.
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.