This is not the way the Eagles wanted to end the regular season, not with wide receiver A.J. Brown walking off the field to have tests on an injured knee, not with Jalen Hurts and a host of starters out of Sunday's game at the Giants trailing by 24 points in the first half, not with the New York Giants dominating from start to finish. Philadelphia lost its regular-season finale at MetLife Stadium, 27-10, and here are some takeaways from the loss as the Eagles now turn their attention toward the Wild Card Playoff game next Monday night at Tampa Bay, a team the Eagles defeated 25-11 in Week 3.
1. The first-half offense got nothing going. The Eagles gained five first downs, went 1-of-7 on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth down, picked up 102 total net yards, and turned the ball over twice, averaging 3.2 yards per play. The offense had trouble with the New York blitz game and quarterback Jalen Hurts was pressured on many of his dropbacks. He didn't have much of a chance to get anything going down the field. Running back Kenneth Gainwell had an impressive 32-yard run – sprung by a great block from center Jason Kelce – but that was pretty much the extent of the offensive production as the Eagles fell into a 24-0 hole and Marcus Mariota replaced Hurts at quarterback and both Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson went to the sidelines.
2. New York rang up 272 total net yards offensively in the first half. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed 15 of 20 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown, along with an interception on a nice play at the goal line from cornerback James Bradberry, who had strong coverage and tipped a pass that Reed Blankenship intercepted. New York scored touchdowns on three straight possessions in the second quarter.
3. There isn't much sense rehashing the game because, well, you watched it. The injuries are the forefront of everyone's mind, so let's discuss for a moment. The hope is that cornerback Darius Slay is ready to play against Tampa Bay, and that would be huge given the Bucs' outstanding talent at wide receiver. Same with wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who sat out Sunday's game with an ankle injury. Pro Bowl running back D'Andre Swift missed the game with an illness. He should be a go for the postseason. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox had a "rest" Sunday, so he should be ready and raring to go for the playoffs. A.J. Brown's status will be updated later in the week, but the reports immediately after he had an MRI were that his ACL was intact and that's encouraging. Head Coach Nick Sirianni said that the Pro Bowl wide receiver was greeting players in the locker room as they came off the field Sunday. Safety Sydney Brown left the game in the first half with a knee injury and did not return. Initial reports are that it's a serious injury for the rookie and his season is over. Blankenship left with a groin injury and didn't return and right guard Cam Jurgens departed with an eye injury. This is all a race against time.
The 2023 regular season ends with an NFC East showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants. The Eagles have enjoyed the upper hand in the recent series history, but the Giants can relish the role of spoiler. The Eagles are in search of a win and a Cowboys loss to retain the NFC East division crown.
4. How does the defense put things together for the playoffs? This has been a season-long project and now there is zero margin for error. What can the Eagles count on when they play Tampa Bay? It starts with stopping the running game, something the defense did extremely well back in September, holding the Bucs to 41 rushing yards on 17 carries. The Bucs gained just 174 total net yards as the Eagles stuffed the run, got after quarterback Baker Mayfield, and locked down wide receiver Mike Evans, who had just 3 receptions for 14 yards through three quarters. Whatever the Eagles did that night, they need a duplicate performance next weekend.
5. And how about the offense? Swift gained 130 of the team's 201 rushing yards. The Eagles were 10-of-16 on third downs and 2-of-3 on fourth downs. Hurts was 23-of-37 passing and the offense rolled up a season-best 472 total net yards. The Eagles were only 1-of-5 in the red zone, but they moved the ball up and down the field and pretty much did as they wanted, including holding possession of the football for the final 9 minutes, 22 seconds on 15 plays from scrimmage.
6. This is going to be a challenging week for the players and coaches, and the important thing is that the players turn off social media and focus in on the work ahead. The playoffs are a new season and we know that anything can happen. But it won't happen unless the team is completely locked in. The fans are not happy. Nobody is happy. Keep it all within the team and block out everything else.
7. Obviously, the Eagles have to eliminate the turnovers (the Eagles gave it away four times on Sunday and finished with a minus-10 in the turnover department for the season), the missed tackles, the field goals in the red zone, etc. A team that has many veterans who played in the Super Bowl in February knows that it has to collectively raise its game. There is a path here. The playoffs are a new season and while the Eagles would have preferred reaching the postseason with some momentum, they have a heartbeat.