It wasn't just Minshew, entire offense was pitiful


It would be easy to just blame Gardner Minshew and be done with it.

He was terrible, it was all his fault, he’ll probably never play for the Eagles again and then you move on.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

When you have an offensive meltdown this complete, it’s not just one guy.

Minshew was a big part of the Eagles’ disastrous offensive performance Sunday against the Saints, but this one started with Nick Sirianni not having the team ready, it continued through Shane Steichen calling an abysmal game and it was magnified when the offensive line committed six penalties in the second half, including one dubious one that nullified a 28-yard Kenny Gainwell touchdown and another that wiped out a 22-yard Boston Scott catch and run.

The Eagles began the day as the No. 1 offense in the NFL and not just because of Jalen Hurts. They had been rolling all year and even scored 27 points in Dallas with Minshew last weekend.

But this was a disaster.

“That was just bad football all-around offensively,” Miles Sanders said. “We’ve gotta be better. You can’t win no games like that.”

This game was decided in the first half, when the Eagles opened the game with four straight 3-and-outs and had just 21 yards of offense before a few meaningless Minshew completions in the final 26 seconds.

They already trailed 13-0 when they recorded their initial first down 12 seconds before halftime.

Minshew absorbed five sacks in the first half and A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert had a total of one catch for seven yards before those meaningless final few seconds of the first half.

The Eagles had the ball for only 7:10 before halftime and Miles Sanders got only two carries.

Even with their 45 garbage yards in the final 26 seconds of the first half, the Eagles managed just 61 first-half yards – their fewest in a game before halftime since they had 41 in the first half of a loss in Washington in October 2016.

Steichen has been terrific this year, but in the first half, the Eagles threw 15 times and ran twice. That's inexcusable.

The Eagles were a little more effective in the second half, but it didn’t matter. The damage was already done. 

“Obviously, it wasn't Gardner's best game and it wasn't our best game as an offense,” Sirianni said. “Not even close. Gardner is capable of playing better. We're capable of coaching better and we are capable of playing better as an entire unit.”

This was the Eagles’ first scoreless first half since the Tampa playoff game in January and their first scoreless first half at home since a loss to the Ravens late in Doug Pederson’s final season.

The 10 total points is their fewest since a 13-7 late-season loss to the Giants at the Meadowlands last November and their fewest at the Linc since the 17-9 wild-card loss to the Seahawks in 2019.

“Just poor execution on our part when push came to shove,” Jordan Mailata said. “Just got to go back and watch the film and bleeping be brutally honest. I know there were a bleeping handful of plays that I want to bleeping take back, and I don't care that my mom's here because I'm bleeping swearing because I’m bleeping emotional. It's a big loss. It's a big loss and it's bleeping frustrating.”

The Eagles finish the regular season next weekend at home against the Giants, their third and final chance to lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff bracket.

Jalen Hurts should be back, but if the offense doesn’t play any better as a group, it won’t matter who’s at quarterback.

What was the biggest issue Sunday?

“Guys not being locked in, being a little bit thrown off,” Jason Kelce said. “Obviously, we haven’t had a lot of reps with Gardner, but as professionals we should be able to handle that. So yeah, very upsetting.”

Kelce was quick to defend Minshew’s performance – “Gardner played good enough to win today” – while blaming himself for a lot of the offense’s issues.

“I had a lot of MA’s (missed assignments) today, which is frustrating, especially with a new guy coming in at quarterback,” he said. “I’m a constant piece out there, and it’s kind of my job to make sure everybody's on the same page and I was complete horsebleep on that today.”

What about the first-half playcalling?

Sanders is a Pro Bowl running back and fifth in the NFL in rushing yards. Shouldn’t he have more than two carries before halftime?

“It didn't really seem like much was working,” Kelce said. “So I’m never gonna criticize the play caller or anything in terms of, ‘We should have done this or that,’ because you know, we were doing a pretty good job of screwing up everything there in the first half. We put ourselves in some bad situations regardless of what was called.”

The Eagles are still 13-3, they still control their own destiny, they’re still the highest-scoring team in the NFL.

But this was brutal.

“It was nothing that they did special,” Sanders said. “It was all self-inflicted pre-snap penalties and not executing a lot of stuff. It’s all lessons. We need games like this, especially right before the playoffs. It’s not good to have games like this, but it’s a lesson to have games like this to learn from it.

“It was just a hard, hard game and we beat ourselves offensively. We beat ourselves. We’ve just got to clean that stuff up before it gets real.”

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