Another week in the books and another loss for the Philadelphia Eagles. Their disappointing 2020 campaign has the built-in torture device of fans knowing the team perpetually has a chance to win the division despite the team’s poor play. That miserable play in week 11 led to a 22-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns. The win brings the Browns record to an impressive 7-3 on the year. Meanwhile, the Eagles record drops down to 3-7-1. Check out the most pertinent storylines from week 11 for the Birds. If you need a pick-me-up, just realize that it is getting increasingly realistic that as little as 5 wins will take the NFC East this year.
Browns Defense dominates the day
The severe weather conditions had an immediate impact on the passing games and pace of play for both teams. Both offenses struggled mightily out of the gate and at halftime, the only score on the board came as a result of a 50 yard interception return touchdown by Browns’ linebacker Sione Takitaki.
The Browns defense has been quietly stout all year long and they continued their excellent play by repeatedly stifling Wentz and company. The Browns defense was particularly effective on third-down, holding the Eagles to just 2-12 on third down conversions. This marks the second game in a row where the Birds have failed horrifically on what is universally understood to be the most significant down.
The Browns not only gave the Eagles fits all day, but they managed to do so without their star defensive player, Myles Garrett. While only sacking Carson Wentz three times, they added a late game safety, forced four fumbles (recovering two), and secured two interceptions. Anytime your defense gives you 9 points on the scoreboard to work with, you won’t have to do much to achieve the victory. The Browns did enough today but their defense unquestionably won the day for them.
Birds can’t keep pace in RB battle
With such inclement weather, the run game assumed a role of elevated importance for both teams. For much of the game, Miles Sanders seemed to be the top dog on both teams at the running back position. Regrettably, the Browns two-headed monster of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt came alive in a big way down the stretch, ultimately assuring the Browns’ victory.
Despite losing a fumble early in the game, Sanders ran well throughout most of the contest. His final numbers ended at a modest 16 carries for 66 yards to go along with three catches for 15 yards, but all of his production came when the defense was keying in on him as a playmaker.
The Birds’ rush defense was smothering in the first half of this game, only allowing Chubb and Hunt a combined 20 yards. But teams, like the Browns, that commit to a heavy run strategy often reap the rewards of that approach in the second half of games. This phenomenon was certainly on display in this game’s second half as Chubb exploded for close to 100 yards and set up teammate Hunt for an acrobatic leaping touchdown. The Browns ability to run the ball down the stretch helped them maintain a lead and win time of possession by nearly four minutes.
Wentz rides struggle bus; Fulgham disappears again
Carson Wentz was all too quick in reminding fans that last week’s turnover free game against the Giants was but a silly aberration. Wentz dropping back in the pocket to throw, especially when playing from behind, is about as inspiring as starting any tight end not named Travis Kelce. It’s possible..but it’s just not going to work.
This game, Wentz completed 21 for 35 passes, which resulted in 235 yards, two touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions. While his counterpart for the day, Baker Mayfield didn’t show anything special, he also didn’t make crucial mistakes. That’s all Mayfield needed to do with the defense’s performance. Wentz also got plenty of help from his defense but failed to turn decent field position into points on too many occasions.
It was nice to see solid production from both tight ends, Dallas Goedert and Richard Rogers. However, for the second game in a row, wide receiver Travis Fulgham completely disappeared. This was not for lack of attention, as he commanded seven targets on the day. The problem was that so many of these targets came in tight windows and would have required spectacular adjustments on Fulgham’s part to make each reception. The result was only one catch for 8 yards. For a receiver with so much recent momentum, it’s very disappointing to see only two catches and 16 yards in the last two games.
The recent losses for the Eagles have been embarrassing, but they need to shake them off and try to manufacture some wins as they remain in contention in today’s NFC East. The road gets no easier in week 12 as they host the 7-3 Seattle Seahawks. The Eagles will surely open as underdogs but will hope to win this clash of aerial predators. Expect a game preview later this week.