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Lawlor: Important Lessons Eagles Must Learn For Playoff Push

Posted Dec 6, 2017

Failure is a great teacher.

Coaches preach to players about issues that need to be corrected. When those talks come after a 28-point win, the lessons don't have the same kind of impact as when they come after a tough loss. Athletes are extremely competitive and they tend to have big egos. Losing really gets to them.

Eagles coaches have a lot of lessons to dish out after Sunday night's performance. Eagles players will definitely be paying attention. They fell to the Seahawks 24-10 in an ugly, frustrating loss. The game wasn't fun for the players, coaches, or fans.

If there is something encouraging about the game, it is that this loss was more about self-inflicted mistakes than anything Seattle did. The Eagles played sloppy football. They cost themselves big plays and made crucial mistakes. Change the outcome of a few plays and you have a completely different game.

Just compare Sunday night to the Eagles-Seahawks game of a year ago. The Eagles trailed 16-7 at the half in that one. They were down 26-7 early in the fourth quarter. A garbage-time touchdown made the final score 26-15. The game wasn't that close. Seattle outgained Philly by more than 130 yards. The Seahawks rushed for more than 150 yards. They were clearly the better team.

The Eagles outgained Seattle by more than 100 yards on Sunday night. The Seahawks ran for 101 yards, but almost a quarter of that came on a bogus play that should have drawn a penalty flag. The Eagles had four drives end in Seattle territory without generating any points. This game could have been so different. This game should have been so different.

The Eagles had been somewhat sloppy in recent wins. The hope was that playing a tougher team would bring out the best in the players. That didn't happen.

Doug Pederson said before the game that he was hoping his team would be tested. He wanted his players to feel real game pressure to help them get ready for the postseason. Pederson was obviously hoping the team would respond to the pressure better than it did, but there is still value in having experienced it.

Against lesser competition, mistakes didn't have the same impact. A missed tackle or errant throw or blown assignment made things more difficult at the moment, but they didn't threaten the outcome of the game.


Carson Wentz missed a wide-open Zach Ertz in the Chicago game on a third-down play. A good throw would have moved the chains and likely put the Eagles into field goal range. Nick Foles didn't have a clean exchange with LeGarrette Blount and the Bears recovered the fumble. That happened with the Eagles in scoring position. No big deal. The Eagles won 31-3.

On Sunday, Wentz missed a wide-open Agholor on a first-quarter pass that could have resulted in a touchdown. The play worked perfectly. Wentz just made a bad throw. There was a play later in the game when Wentz tried to run for a touchdown. He was stripped of the ball at the goal line. Those situations could have led to six or 14 points, but the Eagles got nothing.

The mistakes were repeated, but this time they mattered.

The defense had been playing great football the last month. At the same time, facing Brock Osweiler and rookies like C.J. Beathard and Mitchell Trubisky wasn't a great challenge. Russell Wilson was a whole other story.

Wilson is a unique quarterback because of his escapability, but it was good for the Eagles to play someone with his kind of ability. You aren't going to face rookies and mediocre quarterbacks in January. You're going to face players like Wilson or Drew Brees or Matt Ryan or Cam Newton. You must be ready for that challenge.

The defense played well at times on Sunday night, but there were breakdowns at key moments. When you go against the best players, good isn't enough. You have to be at your best. The penalties were especially frustrating. You can't give legitimate offenses free yards and second chances.

There were some things that did go right in Seattle.

Nelson Agholor was terrific, catching seven passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. He showed the playmaking ability that made the Eagles spend a first-round pick on him. That was the best game of his young career.

Brandon Graham had 1.5 sacks. He was disruptive off the edge and up the middle. He was a force against the run as well. He continues to play at a high level.

While Wentz made some mistakes, he also had some highlight plays. His 51-yard bomb to Agholor was amazing. Wentz was off-balance and starting to fall. He somehow got off a strong, accurate throw. His touchdown throw to Agholor was also impressive. Wentz escaped pressure and found Agholor open down the sideline. Wentz is a special talent.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this team responds. After the early-season loss in Kansas City, the Eagles had a nine-game winning streak. They got a little better each week and developed into an outstanding team.

Sunday night was a bump in the road, not a defining moment for the season. You don't throw away three months of good performances for three hours of bad football.

The Eagles are still a good team. They still have high expectations, and they should. If the players and coaches can truly learn from what went wrong in Seattle, they can get right back on track on Sunday when they take on the Rams.

Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Eagles Message Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the editor of IgglesBlitz.com.

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