There was a common refrain from Head Coach Doug Pederson and multiple players following Sunday's 37-19 loss to the Los Angeles Rams: "The sky is not falling."
The Eagles are 0-2 to open the season for the first time since 2015, before the Coach Pederson era. The Eagles host a scrappy Cincinnati Bengals team this Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field that is also looking for its first win. One small bit of good news is that if the Eagles can get to 1-2, they showed just a year ago that they could climb out of that hole.
But there's a whole week to preview the Bengals and No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, who is not playing like a rookie. First, let's get into what happened Sunday against the Rams in this edition of Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft.
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Wide receiver DeSean Jackson wasn't targeted in the first half, but he and Carson Wentz were cooking after halftime. Jackson led the Eagles with six catches for 64 yards.
1. 5 reasons why the Eagles are 0-2
In his postgame recap column, Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro listed the five reasons that the Eagles are slow out of the gates in 2020. The first reason, he writes, is turnovers.
The Eagles had three more of them on Sunday, giving them six in two games. It all began against the Rams when running back Miles Sanders fumbled on the third play of the game and continued with a crushing interception thrown by quarterback Carson Wentz, an attempt to wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on a first-down throw from the Rams' 21-yard line that was picked off by cornerback Darious Williams with the Eagles down five points. Los Angeles took possession and drove 68 yards for a field goal, taking back momentum for the remainder of the game. Wentz, who threw only seven interceptions in each of the last three seasons, already has four in two games. He has five turnovers. He said he tried to "force one in there" to Arcega-Whiteside, and it was just not a good decision. Whatever it means, all four of Wentz's interceptions have come on first downs.
2. Looking for good news? Aaron Donald didn't wreck the game plan
A week after Carson Wentz was sacked eight times, a career high, the Rams – led by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald – didn't record one.
"I thought they, overall, played well. Played better than the week before and again, it's a good defensive front that we played," Pederson said of the offensive line. "We know Aaron Donald is a tremendous football player and our guys handled him and what they were doing really well. So hats off to those guys. They worked hard during the week to prepare for that, and I thought overall did a nice job."
One injury to watch is that of left guard Isaac Seumalo, who left the game with a knee injury. He was replaced by Matt Pryor.
3. Carson Wentz discusses the key interception
The Eagles had the momentum, clawing back from an early 21-3 hole to make it 21-16 at halftime. The Rams went three-and-out to open the second half. The Eagles marched to the Rams' 21-yard line when on first-and-10 quarterback Carson Wentz saw that wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was open. Wentz fired the ball, but cornerback Darious Williams read the play and made the pick in the end zone. The Eagles never recovered.
"On the interception, (the Rams' defense) made a great play. I got out on the naked there to the left and they had us covered pretty well. I got pretty aggressive and tried to force one in there. (Williams) made a great play," Wentz said. "I have to be smarter in that situation. Overall, offensively, we know we're right there. At the end of the day, we had two interceptions and the fumble. Turning the ball over is really killing us the last two weeks. Those are the things we know we can clean up. But other than that, we truly feel that we're right there. We're just missing some things, timing of some things. We're not panicking. We know what we have to clean up, and we will."
Sunday marked the first time since the November loss at New Orleans in 2018 that Wentz did not throw a touchdown pass.
4. Should the Eagles have taken the penalty?
The Eagles' final points came with 12:07 left in the game when Jake Elliott drilled a 33-yard field goal. On the play, however, Rams safety Nick Scott was called for an offsides penalty. If the Eagles accepted, it would have been fourth-and-3 at the Rams' 10-yard line. Pederson declined and took the points to make it a 24-19 score.
"I felt at that time we had some momentum, took the ball down the field," Pederson said of the decision. "It was going to be a fourth-and-3, I believe, and wanted to keep it to a one-score game at that particular point. I felt like we had some momentum and made the choice to keep points on the board."
The Rams scored a touchdown on their next drive – in just three plays – and never looked back.
5. Jalen Hurts gets on the field
The Eagles had Jalen Hurts as their No. 2 quarterback on Sunday and he got on the field for three snaps in red zone situations. Wentz was the quarterback on all three occasions and Hurts was moved all around the formation.
"The decision, we always do what we feel sometimes is best for the football team each and every week. We felt this week with him up, they could give us an opportunity to possibly use him in those situations that we did, and obviously he went in, executed them well, and it's a starting point as something we'll evaluate each week," Pederson said.
6. Miles Sanders shakes off the rust
Following a costly fumble on the game's opening drive, one that resulted in a Rams touchdown, Miles Sanders for 131 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.
Sanders received his heavy workload despite having missed almost all of Training Camp and the season opener with a hamstring injury. Sanders admitted that his conditioning was an issue Sunday, but despite some early rust, he still looked to be in top form against destructive defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Rams.
But even with his productive day, the Eagles' offense scored fewer than 20 points for the second straight week, far below what was expected of a unit that features an abundance of speed and athleticism. For Sanders, though, getting back into the win column is not a complicated process.
"All it takes is resiliency," he said. "Coach Doug (Pederson), he always talks about that. That's exactly the type of team we are. We had a lot of setbacks last year and despite all the stuff that happened last year, we still made the playoffs. I still think anything is possible. It's still early in the season."
7. Defense frustrated by Rams' misdirection plays
The Eagles have been good in two areas under Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz – run defense and the red zone. The Rams gashed the Eagles for 191 rushing yards, more than any allowed by the Eagles in a single game last season. Los Angeles was also 4-of-5 in the red zone.
"We came up short today. We lost. Our goal was to stop the run. Our goal was to eliminate the boot game. We understood they would do a lot of misdirection, jet motions, screens, and we didn't execute to the best of our abilities today," safety Rodney McLeod said. "We have to own that right now. We consider ourselves a good run defense and a good overall defense, and today we failed to do that."