If there’s one comparison that accurately describes the first two weeks of the Philadelphia Eagles 2021 season so far, it would be the very first part of a roller coaster ride. I’m talking about the part when your train climbs ever so slowly to the highest point only to be followed by the biggest and steepest drop to the bottom.
That slow climb was like the anticipation and readiness for the start of the season, not knowing what to expect with new head coach Nick Sirianni and quarterback Jalen Hurts entrenched as the starter.
The high point was the dominance the team came out and showed against the Atlanta Falcons, impressing in almost every facet of the game. Expectations and overreactions started to soar.
Then, the low point happened which was the home-opener against the San Francisco 49ers. It was a game in which the Eagles dominated their opponent once again in the 1st half and controlled play throughout. The difference this time, however, was the crucial mistakes and missed opportunities. Unfortunately, for the Eagles, when you don’t capitalize on those opportunities against one of the better teams in the league, it’s very difficult to come out on top.
First, let’s make this clear here: the San Francisco 49ers are the better team. Too many people have been overlooking and underrating them. This is a reminder that the 49ers were less than a quarter of football away from becoming Super Bowl Champions two seasons ago, and a good amount of the core players along with head coach Kyle Shanahan are still there. Did they look great in the first half? No, they did not. But great teams are the ones who find a way to win even when they don’t play well, and that’s exactly what the 49ers did.
So, what does this mean for the Eagles? Was their performance in Week 1 a fluke? Are they one of the worst teams in the league that just took advantage of an even worse Falcons team? Or are they a great football team that belongs in the same conversation as the 49ers but just happened to make pivotal mistakes that cost them a game they should have won?
In all honesty, the answer is probably neither. The 2021 Philadelphia Eagles probably aren’t as good as their Week 1 overreactors would make you believe they are, but they also probably aren’t as bad as their Week 2 overreactors would make you believe they are.
What happened against the 49ers can be summed up with the simple fact that the Eagles are a young team with a first-year head coach. They are going to have their fair share of letdowns and mistakes, and there are going to be plenty of growing pains along the way.
Reagor’s reversed TD
Failing to get points after the Quez bomb
Those are the 3 biggest moments of the game so far and are the reasons why the Eagles are losing at halftime despite dominating play. You can’t let a top tier team like the Niners hang around like that.
— Charles “Chux” Maranan (@ChuxMaranan) September 19, 2021
The first missed opportunity was the Jalen Reagor touchdown reception that was reversed due to him stepping out of bounds. Some may consider that just bad luck, but Reagor should have done a better job of giving himself more cushion along the sideline after his release. One of the things that would have also helped is if he was aligned closer to the numbers. Regardless, that is a mistake by Reagor.
— QB Film Room (@QbFilm) September 20, 2021
The Eagles’ ensuing field goal attempt was blocked, and that could have been the major turning point of the game. However, it wasn’t. The defense held up again and forced the 49ers to punt. The offense, backed up near their end zone, then came up with a huge play to Quez Watkins.
This, ladies and gentlemen, was the turning point. The Eagles had another opportunity to increase their lead and have all the momentum going into halftime. However, the play-calling during that sequence was head-scratching, to say the least, and capped off by a failed “Philly Special” play design on 4th down.
.@Eagles sequence of plays at the 1 yard line with a chance to go up 10-0 is one that leaves you scratching your head. I have no idea what they are trying to do. Does anyone know? #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/K1LcFF6qV0
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 20, 2021
After the game, Sirianni blamed himself, saying that the play calling wasn’t good enough. It appears he tried to get fancy and beat the 49ers’ defense with deception since their front-seven was giving the offense a tough time. That approach ultimately backfired, as we all now know.
When all is said and done, this is the type of game that a young team in transition is going to lose. It’s not that the Eagles are a mess of a team that can’t hold their own. If that was the case, then they wouldn’t have outplayed the 49ers the way they did in the first half. However, even the 49ers lost games similarly years ago during Kyle Shanahan’s first season as head coach. We’ve seen it happen all the time with young teams under new head coaches.
The key here is to move forward and be better from this experience. Sirianni, Hurts, and the rest of this Eagles team must take this as a lesson in how to capitalize and finish. They also need to continue building off the several good things they’ve done in the past two weeks, which have been plenty. It’s understandable for the players and fans to be angry and frustrated because they feel like they let this one slip through their fingers. At the same time, it’s important to also not overreact. This isn’t a reason to bail and lose faith in this team, just like how the victory over the Falcons wasn’t a reason to prepare for a parade on Broad Street.