The pouring rain on Sunday in Cleveland certainly had an impact on the game.
The issue? The Eagles looked just as sloppy and bad as they do when it is sunny.
The Eagles are now 3-6-1 following their 22-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the latest in a never-ending string of disastrous performances from the team this season. The only positive to take from the day? The New York Giants didn’t play, meaning the Eagles remain in first place in the NFC East.
Here are some initial thoughts from the Eagles’ latest loss:
*** Wentz was sharp early. In the pouring rain, on the second drive of the game, he hit Jalen Reagor for a 16-yard completion from the team’s own-three yard line. Then, on the next play, he hit Dallas Goedert for 32-yards. It briefly looked like he was set for an impressive day in a tough setting
*** That sharp start to the game made it out of the first quarter, but fell apart just over one minute into the second. Wentz was drilled while trying to get the ball to Miles Sanders on a 2nd-and-7 play from the Browns’ 47-yard line, and as a result, it sailed right into the arms of linebacker Sione Takitaki — who took it 50-yard back for the touchdown. It looked like Wentz might have had Jalen Reagor wide open along the left sideline, and he was looking that way, but instead decided to check the ball down to Sanders. The interception was his 13th of the season.
*** Wentz hit a wide-open Richard Rodgers from 19-yards out to tie the game, 7-7, with just under 12 minutes to play in the third quarter. The timing was huge, considering the defense had just forced a turnover, and it kept the momentum going.
*** Wentz has been poor in the pocket all season not only with his accuracy, but with his pocket presence. Wentz took a bad sack in the end zone for a safety towards the end of the third quarter, giving the Bengals a 12-7 lead. It is unclear if anyone was open on the play, but Wentz had plenty of time to get rid of the ball or get out of the end zone — about three full seconds — before Jason Peters was beat for the sack. A fifth-year quarterback has to be better in that spot.
*** Wentz threw his second interception of the game with just over two minutes to play, a poorly thrown ball into double coverage that was easily picked off on the Browns' 10-yard line. Wentz now has two interceptions in six of the Eagles' 10 games, and no interceptions in just two games -- meaning it is considerably more likely Wentz will throw two interceptions than not throw any interceptions.
*** Yes, it is loaded decision with plenty of implications. But if the Eagles haven’t benched Wentz yet, it is fair to wonder if they ever will, or if they actually think Jalen Hurts is a good quarterback. The offense is broken, and in a game where it was pouring rain and running the ball was the main objective, there is no question that Hurts would have been a better option behind center. It is unlikely we will see Hurts anytime soon as a full-time starter, but it sure feels like the main reason for that is the contract Wentz signed and the statue of Nick Foles outside Lincoln Financial Field.
*** Miles Sanders looked great to start the game, totaling 36 yards on his first six carries. Then, on his seventh, the ball was forced out by on the Browns’ five-yard line. The Browns recovered the ball and a great opening drive was ruined. It is hard to get on Sanders that much, considering the rain, but it is the second time this season — the other being Week 2 against Los Angeles — where he turned the ball over early in the game.
*** Boston Scott made an awesome cut on 3rd-and-2 to get a first down on the Eagles’ opening drive of the game. Scott looked good in the limited action he did get.
*** Reagor pulled in a 16-yard catch on 2nd-and-8 from the Eagles’ own three-yard line, giving the offense some breathing room. Nice job by Reagor getting wide-open on the play, and getting low to bring in the ball for the catch.
*** Travis Fulgham, the team’s No. 1 WR and one of the only bright spots this season, got exactly zero targets in the first half. The pouring rain was a factor, but Fulgham is a player the Eagles need to find a way to get involved, especially early. Fulgham didn’t get his first target until midway through the third quarter.
*** Richard Rodgers continues to play well while Zach Ertz is sidelined, pulling in first touchdown of the season in a huge spot, helping to tie the game 7-7 when the offense was really struggling.
*** Matt Pryor started the game at right guard with Nate Herbig out, giving the Eagles’ yet another new set of starting offensive linemen this season.
*** Jason Peters left the game on the first drive, with Jordan Mailata taking over at left tackle. Peters did come back in, but struggled, allowing an easy sack with just under a minute to play in the second quarter. Peters was also beat on the Browns’ sack in the third quarter.
*** Jason Kelce left the game with just over three minutes to play in the second quarter after being drilled in his elbow at the end of a play. Kelce left the game with trainers and looked to clearly be in some pain on the sideline. Rookie center Luke Juriga replaced Kelce to end the first half, but Kelce came back in to start the 3rd quarter with a massive brace on his elbow.
*** It isn’t often that Lane Johnson is beaten badly for a sack, but it happened on Sunday, when Browns defensive end Olivier Vernon pushed Johnson back into Wentz on the first drive of the third quarter. Vernon brought down both Johnson and Wentz, ending the Eagles’ drive.
*** The defensive line dominated early on. Going against a team that is built on running the ball, the Eagles allowed 12 yards on the first six carries, and just 17 yards on their first 11.
*** Fletcher Cox made a huge play with just under 12 minutes to play in the third quarter, stripping the ball from Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. The ball was recovered by linebacker Alex Singleton and gave the offense the ball on the 19-yard line. One play later, the Eagles tied the game on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Richard Rodgers.
*** The run defense was solid for most of the game, but gave up a huge play in a huge moment, allowing a 54-yard run to Nick Chubb with just under 10 minutes to play in the game. The run moved the Browns to the Eagles’ seven-yard line, and two plays later, Kareem Hunt ran it in to give the Browns a 19-10 lead.
*** The Eagles might have something in Alex Singleton. Singleton had 15 tackles last week vs. New York, and was very active early on, playing a big role in the defense shutting down the Browns’ running game. Singleton also recovered the fumble forced by Cox.
*** Avonte Maddox was called for pass interference in the end zone on the Browns’ second drive, giving Cleveland a 1st-and-goal from the one-yard line.
*** Jalen Mills saved a touchdown, coming in and nailing Kareem Hunt right near the goal line on a 4th-and-goal play from the one-yard line. Mills got Hunt right as he was about to cross the goal line, and as a result of the hit, Hunt’s elbow hit the ground before the ball crossed the line.
*** Doug Pederson gave the fans what they have been asking for, calling running plays on eight-of-the-first-nine snaps for the offense, totaling 28 yards in the pouring rain.
*** Pederson came out with a great game plan. He ran the ball, he got guys opening in the passing game, and should have had a lead early on — but two turnovers by Sanders and Wentz ruined it. There is plenty to get on Pederson about this season, but the slow start on Sunday was not his fault.
*** Pederson seemed ready to just get into the locker room towards the end of the second quarter. After Bake Mayfield was sacked on the play right after the two-minute warning, Pederson decided not to call a time out despite having two remaining. As a result, the Eagles got the ball with 1:07 to play instead of having (probably) having about 30-40 more seconds on the clock. Pederson probably should have called a time out, but with the way the offense was playing, it is hard to blame him for just wanting to get into halftime.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at email@example.com!