For a second time this season, the Philadelphia Eagles shot themselves in the foot on the road and lost 26-23 in overtime to the Tennessee Titans. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota hit wide receiver Corey Davis for the game-winning touchdown with 11 seconds left on the clock.
It was a defensive battle for the majority of the first half until quarterback Carson Wentz found wide receiver Jordan Matthews for a 56-yard touchdown to get the Eagles on the board.
Despite, dropping back an astounding 50 times, Wentz had a solid game and was able to get tight end Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery involved early and often in the game.
The defense, however, stepped up in holding the Titans’ running game to only 70 rushing yards. But when it mattered the most, they could not get off the field, had missed tackles and costly penalties that ultimately ended up hurting them in overtime.
With the loss, the Eagles are now 2-2 and 0-2 on the road.
Here are three takeaways from Philly’s inexcusable and disheartening loss in Nashville, Tenn.:
1. Secondary bends and finally breaks
Through the first three weeks of the regular season, the Eagles’ secondary has been under intense scrutiny for their bend-but-don’t break style.
Under the direction of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, they play to keep the wide receivers in front of them and not allow them to get behind for big plays.
The Titans took a page out of the Bucs’ offensive playbook on Sunday and attacked the Eagles’ secondary immediately. On their first offensive drive, Mariota got a favorable matchup against cornerback Jalen Mills and made him pay. The Titans would eventually score and take an early 3-0 lead.
This was a continuous theme throughout the game as the Titans completed four 20-plus-yard passing plays against the Eagles. In just one game, they matched their total from the previous three games.
Mariota played exceptionally well, giving the defense fits not only throwing the ball but running it as well.
The former first-round pick completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 344 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also had 46 rushing yards and a touchdown. In addition to Mariota, the secondary had no answer for Davis, who had nine receptions for 161 yards and Taywan Taylor, who had seven receptions for 77 yards.
The secondary must improve quickly because they have a tough matchup next week at home against quarterback Kirk Cousins and the reeling Minnesota Vikings.
2. Offensive line struggles to protect Wentz
Along with the defensive struggles, the Eagles’ offensive line did not do a good enough job of protecting quarterback Carson Wentz. This is the second week in a row that the offensive line allowed Wentz to take numerous hits.
Heading into Sunday’s contest, the Eagles’ offensive line was ranked 23rd in pass protection with an adjusted sack rate of 7.8 percent, according to Football Outsiders.
What does this mean in the grand scheme of things?
It means that the Eagles are struggling in pass protection and need to improve quickly.
Philly’s offensive line allowed the Colts to pick up five sacks last week on Wentz, and against Tennessee, they racked up four sacks. In the fourth quarter, Wentz got strip-sacked on a blown assignment by right tackle Lane Johnson, which put the Titans in scoring position.
There were many times in the game, where Johnson and other Eagles players were just standing around looking confused.
All in all, the Eagles have a lot of work on their hands if they want to repeat as Super Bowl champs.
3. Wentz looks sharp in second start
Last Sunday, Wentz made his 2018 regular season debut against the Indianapolis Colts. He was not perfect by any means but showed flashes of what made him a potential NFL MVP candidate, before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
With another week of practice and playing time under his belt, Wentz looked better against the Titans. He was slinging the ball up and down the field, completing 66 percent of his passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns.
One of the reasons for Wentz’s success on Sunday was the return of Jeffery. The veteran wide receiver missed all of the preseason and the first three games of the season rehabbing from torn rotator cuff surgery.
The combo did not miss a beat against the Titans as Jeffery had eight receptions (nine targets) for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Having Jeffery back on the field, also allowed Ertz to go to work in the middle of the field, compiling 10 receptions (12 targets) for 112 yards.
The Eagles’ offense is a work in progress but took major strides against Tennessee. Hopefully, they will have a healthy Darren Sproles and Corey Clement ready to go next week to help out in the running game.
For Philadelphia to be successful and for Wentz to make it through the season, they cannot have 20 carries between two running backs (Jay Ajayi and Wendell Smallwood). It is not a recipe for long-term success.