On the very first play from scrimmage, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz’s jersey was ripped apart as he got sacked.
Things never really got a whole lot better for Wentz — or the rest of his suddenly reeling team, for that matter — during what would become a 27-20 loss to the NFC East rival Washington Redskins on Sunday.
“We do have some things to clean up,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said.
Talk about an understatement.
Under quite a bit of pressure most of the afternoon, Wentz was only 11 for 22 for 179 yards, directing an offense that managed to produce merely a pair of field goals and was outgained 493-239 by the Redskins.
Philadelphia’s other points came via Wendell Smallwood’s 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Malcolm Jenkins’ 64-yard interception return for a score.
This was the second consecutive loss for the Eagles (3-2) after they entered their bye at 3-0 off a rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers with Wentz hailed as a ready-made star.
Looked less so Sunday.
The QB and Pederson advanced the same theory Sunday, one worded by Wentz this way: “Any time you put tape out there — a new rookie quarterback, a new head coach — they are going to start to get a feel for how you like to play.”
It probably also didn’t help that suspended right tackle Lane Johnson’s replacement, fifth-round draft pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai, looked lost at times.
He allowed linebacker Ryan Kerrigan to zoom past him on that first-play sack, one of five for the Redskins (4-2), who are headed in the opposite direction, owners of a four-game winning streak after an 0-2 start.
“There’s a lot of things I need to work on,” Vaitai acknowledged.
Perhaps. But truth be told, there were so many problems that went beyond he played or the way Washington’s defense bottled up Wentz.
Problems Pederson will want to address right away, because Philadelphia faces the league’s only unbeaten team, the Minnesota Vikings, next week.
One glaring example: 13 penalties for 114 yards. That comes on top of the 14 flags for 111 yards in last week’s one-point loss to the Detroit Lions.
“If it’s back to back, you’re not playing well in regard to being disciplined,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “It’s tough to win in this league, as it is, and when you have that many penalties, it’s dang near impossible to win.”
Jenkins lamented those errors that he said should be prevented.
“I know we don’t necessarily see ourselves as an undisciplined team, but the numbers will tell you that we’re an undisciplined team that beats ourselves,” Jenkins said.
“In the first three weeks, that was really one of our strengths — we played very patient, very sound football, and just eventually broke our opponents. It’s been the opposite of that the last two weeks.”
He pointed to all sorts of issues on his unit, a defense that entered this game ranked second in the NFL in average points allowed (12.6) and yards allowed (266.8) but never looked the part against Kirk Cousins and Co.
The Redskins ran for 230 yards, led by Matt Jones’ 135 on 16 carries, including a victory-sealing 57 on a third-down play with just under 90 seconds remaining.
Plus, Cousins threw for two TDs and was not sacked a single time.
“You can look at every area today of our defense, and I don’t know if there’s any area you’d feel good about,” Jenkins said. “The runs were really leaky. Tackling wasn’t that great. Coverage wasn’t that great. Pass rush. Everything. We’ve got a lot to get done.”
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