Despite a late second-half comeback from the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, they could not get the job done on Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs beat the Eagles in all three phases of the game, en route to a 27-21 victory.
Philly shot themselves in the foot early on with penalties and simply did not execute on both sides of the ball. It was certainly not one of their best outings as quarterback Nick Foles could not get comfortable in the pocket, but still delivered a solid performance.
Here are a few more takeaways from the Eagles’ first loss of the 2018 season.
Defense bends and breaks in some aspects
After giving up 169 receiving yards to Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and not allowing him to score a touchdown last week. The Eagles’ defense faced another tall task on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense.
On the Bucs’ first offensive play of the game, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick punched the Eagles’ defense in the mouth, hitting wide receiver DeSean Jackson for a 75-yard touchdown pass.
However, Philly’s defense adjusted to what the Buccaneers were doing on offense and began applying pressure to Fitzpatrick. Eventually, they were able to get an interception late in the first quarter, thanks to cornerback Ronald Darby.
But the Buccaneers’ offense struck again late in the second quarter with Fitzpatrick hitting second-year tight end O.J. Howard for another 75-yard touchdown.
This time, Darby did not do a good job of wrapping up Howard, letting him loose down the sidelines.
It was a consistent theme throughout the day as the Eagles defense mirrored the New Orleans’ Saints from last week. They could not get an ample amount of pressure on Fitzpatrick, who completed an efficient 82 percent of his passes for 402 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception.
Coming into this game, there was a lot of the attention on who might not be playing for Tampa Bay. Even though the Bucs were without their starting two cornerbacks, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and DeSean Jackson played and left their respective impacts on the game.
However, the injury bug hit the Eagles’ hard in the first half with running back Jay Ajayi, left tackle Jason Peters, and wide receiver Mike Wallace all suffering injuries.
Ajayi was the only one to return and had some minor success with a rushing touchdown to end the third quarter.
Also, it did not help that the Eagles were without veteran running back Darren Sproles, who did not practice on Friday with a hamstring injury.
It should be interesting to see what the status will be on Peters and Wallace for next Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts
As previously mentioned, Foles had a solid performance against the Buccaneers. The veteran quarterback completed 73 percent of his passes for 334 yards and a touchdown.
While Foles’ numbers looked good this week, in comparison to what he did last week against the Atlanta Falcons. The offense as a whole still did not create many big plays.
Tight end Zach Ertz had a couple of good moments against Tampa Bay, where he had 11 receptions (13 targets) for 94 yards.
Outside of Ertz, Agholor had a great game with eight receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown reception. Agholor was the best wide receiver on the field for the Eagles and the only one that seemed to get open.
However, the running game could not get going with Clement only rushing for 30 yards, Smallwood racking up 28 yards, and Ajayi only getting a modest 23 yards.
Simply put, Philly’s ground game needs to be better and that falls on the running backs and the offensive line. It doesn’t matter who is under center for the Eagles as for them to be successful, they need to establish a threat on the ground. If you have an effective running game, it opens up things in the passing game and vice versa.
For a Buccaneers’ defense that got torched for 40 points last week, the Eagles’ offense did not do a good job of exploiting their weaknesses.