The Washington Commanders dropped to 1-2 on the season after getting bested by the Philadelphia Eagles in a Week 3 division matchup. In the 24-8 defeat, the visitors dominated on both sides of the ball, scoring four times in the first half and limiting Washington to just a safety and a touchdown. Here are three numbers to know from Washington's second loss of the season.
Carson Wentz broke or tied franchise records during his first two games in Washington. Yesterday, however, he brushed a number he will hopefully never get close to again. Wentz was sacked nine times in the Eagles loss, just one shy of a Washington record. Two-thirds of those sacks came in the first half.
The stat can be attributed to two performance issues. The offensive line struggled to contain the Eagles' explosive pass-rushers. As Charles Leno Jr. so poetically put it in his postgame press conference, "It's like we were constipated."
Compounding the damage, Wentz was at times slow to release the ball, which gave the Eagles defense the luxury of extra time to pounce. The quarterback admitted he did not execute as well as he would have hoped against his former team.
"I did not play to my standards. Especially early," Wentz said following the game. "I've got to be better."
Even more frustrating was the amount of sacks Philadelphia got without dedicating any extra defenders to blitzes. Seven of the Eagles' sacks came with just four-man rushes, which was tired for the most produced in a regular season game over the past three years.
The second number closely related to the pressure Philadelphia generated was Washington's net passing yards in the first half. As compared to the humming offense we saw in the first half of Week 1, the pieces of Scott Turner’s unit were not clicking on many levels.
The 24 yards the Commanders gained through the air in the first two quarters were trumped by the 40 yards lost on the six sacks suffered. The Eagles' defense made it known early that it would be piling on the pressure as the unit took down Wentz just over a minute into the game and got back-to-back sacks on the Commanders' second drive. The Eagles' Josh Sweat, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham and Haason Reddick all got in on the Wentz sack action. The resulting third-and-longs that the Commanders had to face after being dealt those blows was a major factor in the offense sputtering in the first half.
"When they can just pin their ears back and go, that's hard," Rivera said of the Eagles defense after the game. "That's very hard on the offensive line. That's very hard on the quarterback."
Starting slow has been a problem for the defense in Washington's last two games. In Week 2, a hungry Lions offense made the most of its time in possession in the first half, notching eleven first downs and 250 yards as Detroit jumped out to 22-0 lead. In looking back at the tape, Ron Rivera pinpointed explosive plays a must-address area for the unit.
Failure to contain explosive plays continued to hurt the Commanders against the Eagles. In the first half, Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense marched down the field to the tune of 17 first downs and 279 yards on their way to a 24-0 lead before the break. After doing well to prevent Philadelphia from getting on the board in the first quarter, the floodgates opened a bit in the second quarter as Hurts found Dallas Goedert, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith in the end zone.
Rivera noted that the defense did "a couple of really good things" that the team will be looking to build on with another division rivalry up ahead.
"Learn from this," Rivera said. "And now start focusing on getting ready for next week."
The Commanders have been outscored 46-0 in the first half of the last two games. That makes things tough for any team, regardless of whether the offense finds a spark in the second half. If Washington hopes to get back on track, starting stronger must be a top priority.