3 Takeaways from Eagles' Week 9 Loss
The Philadelphia Eagles led the Los Angeles Chargers at halftime Sunday. They still led after the third quarter. After falling behind in the fourth, they had an impressive game-tying touchdown drive. However, they still couldn't come away with their first home win of the season, losing 27-24.
It means the Eagles are now 0-4 at Lincoln Financial Field in 2021. Dustin Hopkins kicked a 29-yard field goal with two seconds remaining to drop Philadelphia to 3-6.
With 6:07 to go in the fourth quarter, the Eagles tied the game at 24 on Jalen Hurts' 28-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith. But Philadelphia's defense couldn't get the late stop it needed, as Los Angeles went 64 yards on 15 plays on its game-winning drive.
Here are three takeaways from the Eagles' Week 9 loss.
The Defense Didn't Generate Enough Pressure to Excel
In Week 8, the Eagles' defensive front had their best showing of the season, collecting six sacks and 12 quarterback hits in a 44-6 win over the Detroit Lions. On Sunday, Philadelphia's pass rush were nowhere near as effective.
The Eagles struggled to get to Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, failing to record a sack and making only one quarterback hit. That allowed Herbert to have an efficient performance, completing 32 of his 38 passing attempts and racking up 356 yards through the air and three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).
"Every week is different," Philadelphia defensive tackle Javon Hargrave said, per The Athletic's Zach Berman. "I think this week [the Chargers] were getting the ball out so quick. ... They chipped more than usual. The ball came out quicker than we expected. Hurry-up stuff and little things."
But it's been a recurring issue for the Eagles. Their defensive success has heavily depended on whether they can generate pressure. And they have mostly struggled to do that. Before the Week 8 win in Detroit, Philadelphia had 11 sacks over its first seven games, and six of those came from Hargrave.
The Eagles need to find ways to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, especially when going up against teams with as much offensive talent as the Chargers. Otherwise, top signal-callers such as Herbert will take advantage as he did Sunday.
Smith Finally Showcased His Star Potential Again
If there are Eagles fans who were concerned about Smith's lack of production in recent weeks, the rookie wide receiver's performance Sunday was a welcome sight.
Smith had five catches for a game-high 116 yards, marking his second 100-yard game of the season and his first since Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs. He also scored his first touchdown since Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons. And not only that, but his touchdown grab tied the game late in the fourth quarter.
Although Smith had only eight total catches over Philadelphia's previous three games—and he didn't have more than 61 yards in any of those contests—he still leads the team in receiving with 38 receptions for 537 yards through nine games. He had a strong connection with Hurts from their days together at Alabama, and now they are both improving together at the NFL level.
"As an offense, that's what you practice for, day in and day out," Smith said, per Dave Spadaro of the team's official site. "Just be with each other to get better. The more that you do it, the more you attack it every day, the offense gets better and the team gets better."
Smith's improvement shouldn't be a surprise considering his talent and skill set, and he's likely to keep putting up big numbers over the remainder of the regular season.
The Eagles Are Improving Despite the Results
It's hard to come out of a loss with optimism, but there are reasons for the Eagles to be positive after Sunday. The Chargers are a solid team and are tied atop the AFC West at 5-3. Yet this matchup resulted in Philadelphia's closest loss of its six defeats.
Eagles fans still haven't gotten to celebrate a home win during Nick Sirianni's first year as head coach. And though they came close to doing that Sunday, Sirianni knows his team can't feel too good about this showing because of the result.
"I do see growth in this football team. I think we all see that. But we have to keep growing," Sirianni said, per Berman. "There are no moral victories in this league, right? A loss is a loss is a loss is a loss. That one hurt, and we have to get back and get better from this."
There are ample opportunities for the Eagles to pick up wins later on. All five games they play from Weeks 12-17 are against teams with losing records.
However, Philadelphia may be challenged the next two weeks, with a road matchup against the Denver Broncos (5-4) and a home game against the New Orleans Saints (5-3) on the docket. But winning at least one of those contests could set up the Eagles for a run to .500 and a tangible sign of progress.