There were a lot of takeaways for me in watching the film from Monday night's loss to the Seattle Seahawks. As you would imagine, there was plenty of bad and plenty of good. The most impressive facet, for me, was the performance of the defense. I thought there were standout players at all three levels. On the opening drive, after some foolish penalties put Seattle inside the 5-yard line, the way the defense responded was awesome to see, and it culminated with a goal-line stand (the second in as many weeks) and a turnover on downs. That play was made by defensive end Derek Barnett, who also made the drive-ending sack on the ensuing possession. Here are those two plays and how they came to be.
ALL OF THE VIDEO CLIPS FEATURE AUDIO ANALYSIS
Barnett was not the only defensive lineman who flashed on film, however, because a bunch of his teammates up front made an impact in this game. Three of note: Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat, and Javon Hargrave.
Not only did the line lock up the Seattle run game for much of the night, but they also corralled Russell Wilson as well. There weren't many plays where Wilson got out of the pocket and extended plays with big results down the field. Doing that requires execution from everyone on the field and in the coaches box. By mixing up their pressure looks, playing sound technique in coverage, and executing on 'move the pocket' pass plays, the defense limited the big-play potential from Seattle.
That doesn't mean that the Eagles avoided big plays. DK Metcalf had a career game on Monday night, making some great plays downfield and in the quick game where he utilized his rare frame and straight-line speed to come up with win after win after win. Darius Slay put a lot of that on himself after the game. To be fair to him, Metcalf has done this all season long. I watched him do it to Stephon Gilmore, Tre'Davious White, Patrick Peterson, and every big-name cornerback not named Jalen Ramsey who Metcalf has seen this season. It's tough to give him extra attention as well because not only do the Seahawks have Tyler Lockett on the other side, but you have to contend with Seattle's commitment to the run game as well as the threat of Wilson's legs. There is only so much help to be thrown around on the back end, and Metcalf came out on top often in this one.
Still, at the end of the night, I saw some really good things on defense. In particular, I thought the tackling stood out to me, especially from the Eagles' safeties, Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills.
Why is this important? Because things don't get easier in that department moving forward. The Packers, Saints, and Cardinals ALL put stress on defenses by forcing you to make tackles one-on-one in space. McLeod has taken some uncharacteristic angles downhill in recent weeks, but he was near-flawless on Monday night in that department. Mills responded well from a rough outing last week in Cleveland and turned in a well-rounded game against the Seahawks against both the run and the pass.
At the linebacker level, Alex Singleton continued to make plays downhill. When he sees things quickly, he flies towards the line of scrimmage and arrives ready to inflict pain. He was impactful up front for the Eagles' defense, as was T.J. Edwards. The guy I wanted to focus on in this piece though was Duke Riley. The former third-round pick out of LSU did a great job of not "taking the cheese" on a couple of misdirection plays in this one, was able to trigger quickly downhill to defeat blocks a handful of times, and overall was active and around the football.
Was it a perfect day for Riley? No. There were a couple of plays I'm sure he'd like to have back. But I thought he had one of his better games in Eagles green on Monday night.
On the offensive side, as you can imagine, the film wasn't pretty. There's plenty of things to break down. There were missed throws. Pass protection remained a concern. Drops popped up. The run game was mostly ineffective. It was a well-rounded bad showing. The team did improve on third down, starting late in the second quarter, but that was after starting the game with five straight three-and-outs. The biggest bright spot for me? The drive at the end of the second quarter, where the Eagles converted on third down three times and punched the ball into the end zone on this two-play sequence.
The Eagles have used both of these concepts for touchdowns over the last couple of years, and it was cool to see them roll them out on back-to-back plays to put the ball in the paint on Monday night. They will need more execution at this level to compete with the offenses they'll face off against in the next few weeks.
Fran Duffy is the producer of the Emmy-nominatedEagles Game Planshow which can be seen every gameday during the season on NBC10 in Philadelphia. He is also the host of two Eagles-related podcasts,Eagle Eye in the Sky, which examines the team from an X's and O's angle each and every week as well as theJourney to the Draft podcast, which covers college football and the NFL Draft all year round. Fran also authors the Eagle Eye in the Sky column, which runs four times a week during the football season to serve as a recap for the previous game and to preview the upcoming matchup. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging, and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices, and opponents.