47 degrees/ Mostly Cloudy/ WINDY
Key Coaching Decision #1: (PHI ball, no score / fourth-and-1, CAR 45 / 7:05 Q1)
Key Coaching Decision #2: (PHI ball, no score / fourth-and-5, CAR 39/ 5:19 Q1)
Key Coaching Decision #3: (PHI ball, no score / fourth-and-3, CAR 18/ 2:50 Q1)
• The Eagles were aggressive on their second drive of the game, opting for fourth-down conversion attempts instead of punting or attempting a long field goal.
• They were successful on their first attempt (Key Coaching Decision #1) with a Carson Wentz plunge forward for a first down. On the second attempt (Key Coaching Decision #2), a pass to Alshon Jeffery was complete for a 14-yard gain and a first down.
• Part of this aggressiveness was due to the wind picking up at this point in the game and blowing around the stadium; it would have made punts or longer field goals an adventure. This was evident when, on the third fourth-down (Key Coaching Decision #3, the Eagles decided to attempt a field goal. The Jake Elliott 36-yard field goal attempt appeared to get taken in a different direction by the wind. When the ball was in the air, it looked like it would be a successful attempt, but instead it went just wide right. Others in the stadium felt the same judging by the crowd’s reaction. This ended up being a 15-play, 62-yard drive that would result in no points.
Key Coaching Decision #4: (PHI ball, leading 10-0 / fourth-and-1, CAR 3 / 1:57 Q3)
• Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz ran up the middle for a 2-yard gain that extended a long drive, and the Eagles scored two plays later on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to rookie Dallas Goedert. The extra point gave the Eagles a three-score (17-0) lead. This was a 17-play, 92-yard drive that took 9:22 off the clock. At this point in the game, the Panthers offense was struggling greatly and it looked like this would end the Panthers chances of pulling off a road upset of the Eagles.
Key Coaching Decision #5: (CAR ball, trailing 17-14 / fourth-and-10, CAR 31 / 2:06 Q4)
• The Panthers’ chances to win this game looked grim. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had thrown three straight incomplete passes, all of them high to intended wide receivers. Rather than punt here (a consideration as the Panthers still had two timeouts remaining and maybe the benefit of the two-minute warning depending on the hang time of the punt and whether the ball was fair caught or bounced), the Panthers attempted a fourth-down conversion.
• This conversion attempt was from their own 31-yard line and Newton found former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith with a pass for a first down. Smith would end up gaining 35 yards on the play and a first down. The Panthers would later score on this drive and take a 21-17 lead that they would not relinquish.
• The Eagles are starting to have Carson Wentz run more, including at the goal line, which is where he was injured a season ago. This is curious as Wentz is coming off an ACL injury. It would be reasonable to think that he would be running less, especially considering he was sacked thrice and hit an additional six times.
• Wentz was 30 of 37 for 310 yards and 2 touchdowns in a losing effort. He threw the ball well. He fumbled on the opening drive, but recovered the fumble — although that play stalled the first drive. Of course, lost a fumble at the end of the game.
• The Eagles offense could not run the ball with any consistency and generated only 58 yards on 24 carries.
• The Eagles defense started playing more man defense late in the game. Getting away from more zone concepts opened up the field for the quick Panthers wide receivers and running back Christian McCaffrey, all of whom did damage in the open field, taking shorter passes for longer gains.
• The Eagles play the Jaguars in London on Sunday. Both teams are stumbling into the game.
• The Panthers scored three touchdowns on three straight drives in the fourth quarter after not having scored any points in the first three quarters.
• In the fourth quarter, the Panthers took advantage of the man defense as well as using a faster pace and a no-huddle offense to get back into the game and eventually take a lead.
• This was the Panthers first road win of the season.