Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles Squander Early Lead, Lose to Washington 27-17 in Season Opener

The worst performance of Carson Wentz’s career, the 5th-biggest blown lead in franchise history, 27 unanswered points by Washington and a catastrophic opening-day 27-17 loss at FedEx Field in the season opener? It can’t happen, but it did happen.

10 Instant Observations on a catastrophic loss to the Washington Football Team originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

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The worst performance of Carson Wentz’s career, the 5th-biggest blown lead in franchise history, 27 unanswered points by Washington and a catastrophic opening-day 27-17 loss at FedEx Field in the season opener?

It can’t happen, but it did happen.

Late in the second half, the Eagles led 17-0 and were averaging 53 yards per possession. They never scored again and averaged 8.4 yards on their last 10 possessions. 

Washington recorded their biggest comeback ever against the Eagles, ended a six-game losing streak to the Eagles and handed the Eagles their first opening-day loss since Chip Kelly was the coach.

Here's our 10 Instant Observations off the Eagles' ugliest loss in a long, long time.

1. Carson Wentz’s meltdown the last 33 minutes of this game is the worst stretch we’ve ever seen from him. He was so sharp early -- 14-for-18 for 174 yards and two TDs with three minutes left in the first half. And then he looked lost. He’s had terrible games before -- the Bengals loss in Cincinnati in 2016, the Saints blowout at the Superdome in 2018. But this was a game the Eagles had control of against a bad team, and Wentz flat-out imploded. Took sacks instead of throwing the ball away. Threw interceptions he didn’t even throw as a rookie. Fumbled two more times. Made terrible decisions all over the place. After that 14-for-18 start? He was 8-for-21 for 71 yards with two INTs, a lost fumble and zero points generated over the next 10 drives. I get that he was missing a bunch of offensive linemen and Miles Sanders. But honestly, this performance was inexcusable. He’s in Year 5 now. This can’t happen.

2. Wentz has had good games and bad games, but this is the first game that really made me wonder if he’s the guy. I know it’s only one game. I know the o-line was decimated. I know he didn’t have a ton of time in the pocket. I know Washington has some firepower on defense now. But come on. They were up 17-0 against a team that was 3-13 last year with the No. 27 defense in the league with a new coach. Obviously it’s way too soon to write this season off or write Wentz off, but if you’re an elite quarterback, you just don’t lose that game. 

3. I love being aggressive, but there’s a time and a place for it. And 4th-and-4 near midfield up three points late in the third quarter with the offense going nowhere and backup offensive linemen all over the place was not the time or place. Hated it. You’ve got one of the best punters in the league, your defense has been pretty good, your offense has been terrible, and the Redskins have been teeing off on Wentz the whole game. Your best chance to win that game at that point is punt ‘em deep, give your offense a chance to regroup and put it in the hands of your defense. The play had no chance, Wentz took his sixth sack and the Redskins were on their way. 

4. We talked a lot about the Eagles’ decision not to keep any veteran backup offensive linemen on the roster, and they paid the price Sunday. Nate Herbig and Jack Driscoll both battled and so did Jordan Mailata when he replaced Driscoll, but you’re talking about three offensive linemen who had a combined three career snaps coming into the season. Why not sign Cordy Glenn? Why not keep a veteran interior linemen? That’s a legit Washington defensive front, and asking Herbig, Driscoll and Mailata -- with zero NFL experience -- to shut them down was too much to ask. 

5. Seven sacks in an opener? It’s the most the Eagles have allowed in an opener since they gave up nine in a 38-0 loss to the Seahawks at the Vet in 1998 and matches the most they’ve allowed in any game since they gave up 12 in the 16-3 loss to the Giants at the Meadowlands in 2007 -- the Winston Justice game. And I’d say five of the seven were on Carson. 

6. The combination of two substitute o-linemen, no Sanders and that Washington front made it almost impossible for the Eagles to run the ball, and that made it easier for Washington really tee off on the Eagles’ o-line and Carson. Boston Scott and Corey Clement are mainly receiving backs, which is why I was surprised the Eagles didn’t bring up Mike Warren, Adrian Killins or Elijah Holyfield from the practice squad for this game. This will be a very good running team when Lane Johnson and Sanders are back, but finding a way to win and make plays through the air without an effective running game is big. The Eagles were 17-for-57 rushing Sunday, just 3.4 yards a pop.

7. The defense did allow 27 points, but honestly Wentz and the offense put them in such a bad position on so many drives I can’t even come down very hard on them. Washington’s five scoring drives went 45, 20, 26, 48 and 20 yards. That’s not on the defense. They held Washington to just 239 yards, 5-for-17 on third down, 2.2 yards per rushing attempt and 159 net passing yards. You’d still like to see them get a stop late in the game when they needed one, but I’m not putting this on the defense. 

8. Zach Ertz did have the Eagles’ first touchdown catch, but with the way Goedert was making plays, you see why the Eagles don’t plan on over-paying Ertz. Goedert had 8-for-101, and he made a really nice adjustment on the 38-yard touchdown after looking over the wrong shoulder for the ball. Ertz was 3-for-18, had a terrible 4th-down drop in the 4th quarter and really just didn’t look like himself at all. You really have to hope the contract situation isn’t getting to him. He can’t let that happen.

9. One thing Jim Schwartz harped on this preseason was getting more turnovers. The Eagles had only 11 interceptions last year and only 10the year before, among the fewest in the NFL. Avonte Maddox’s 3rd-down knockdown on Logan Thomas deep was a heck of a play, but Maddox will tell you he should have picked that one off. The Eagles need to turn those near-INTs into interceptions.

10. I know what everybody was thinking when Wentz’s deep ball to Jalen Reagor was flying through the air: “He’s going to drop it.” And let’s be honest, if this was last year, it would have been dropped. Reagor showed all preseason he’s legit, and without benefit of a preseason, without ever having caught a pass in the NFL, for him to track that ball and catch it and hang on? That was huge. And he could have had another one on the Carson overthrow at the end of the first half. I know what all the draft analysts said, but this kid can play. He’s going to be fine. 

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