Broncos are Left Impressed with Wentz, Eagles Offense
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — There isn't much to say after you just got drubbed 51-23 and lost for the fourth straight time.
But, part of the gig when you're a head coach in the NFL is the post-mortem on game day and struggling first-year Denver coach Vance Joseph had plenty to say before exiting South Philadelphia.
A defensive-minded guy, Joseph was particularly upset over how his No. 1 ranked defense imploded against an Eagles team down its best pass catcher in Zach Ertz. Despite that, backup tight ends Brent Celek and Trey Burton set the tone early before handing the baton to Alshon Jeffery and a revamped running game featuring the recently acquired Jay Ajayi.
"We knew their offense would go through the tight ends so that part did not surprise me," Joseph said. "It surprised me that we couldn't stop the run game and that was the bigger issue to me. They had a great plan in the run and pass game alike and they exposed us."
How do you expose Von Miller and the "No Fly Zone," though?
If your Doug Pederson, it means RPOs with the most cerebral young quarterback in the game, Carson Wentz.
The Eagles first touchdown of many was a work of modern art: a zone/read look to confuse the hard-charging Miller with recently acquired running back Jay Ajayi before keeping the ball at the mesh point and throwing a deft pass to the streaking Alshon Jeffery, who raced past Aqib Talib for a 32-yard touchdown after the star cornerback got lost looking into the backfield.
Joseph might as well have put up the white flag there but the Broncos went through the motions, allowing nearly a point a minute over the 60 minutes of game time.
"I told the team after the football game that every man has to do a self-check," the Denver coach said. "Only each man would know what his heart said to him in the fourth quarter there, so that’s where I’ll leave that.”
Clearly, Joseph wasn't all tht happy with the effort so it really becomes an existential chicken and the egg-like question for the Broncos.
Did the team quit because the 8-1 Eagles are just that dominant or did Denver check out at the first sign of adversity in a difficult environment?
“We played a great offense," cornerback Chris Harris assessed. "They are probably the best offense we have seen and that is what happened.”
Miller, the Super Bowl 50 MVP already earmarked for Canton, was also impressed by what he saw.
“They were just connecting on everything; third downs, running the ball, everything," the All-Pro said. "We didn’t play well at all tonight; giving up 51 points is tough. But I don’t feel like anyone quit or gave up on the game, it was just a really tough game to play in when nothing is going your way."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen