Week 17 was the de facto funeral for the Philadelphia Eagles 2023 season. Just about everything that has been bad at some point during the campaign showed its face. That led to one of the franchise's worst/most embarrassing losses in the past decade.
The snap counts aren’t the end-all-be-all, but they’re a pretty good indicator of where we saw issues begin… And buddy, we saw issues everywhere.
The Eagles defense couldn’t get off the field and it hurt everyone.
We’re not going to focus on the Eagles defensive snap counts. The players are either lacking talent, underperforming, or both. Linebacker snap counts don't matter because the players are bad. Defensive line snap counts no longer matter because they play entirely too much. Still, as a whole, The defensive backs' snap counts don't matter because they're playing poorly and aren't set up to be successful.
The point is this. Looking for answers and using defensive snap counts to do so is like trying to find signs of life five minutes after a nuclear bomb explosion. It’s pointless. You'll only frustrate yourself by trying. With that said, let's talk about the offense.
These are the numbers that footballguys.com have given us.
Eagles offense - 49 snaps, Cardinals offense - 76 snaps
One of the biggest stories of this season is going to be the sheer number of snaps that the Eagles' defense has played. That’s made the pass rush bad and tired, which spirals and compounds game after game.
In Week 17, that was the case in the first half alone. The Eagles had 21 real plays which accounted for 8 minutes and 12 seconds. The Cardinals had 37 real plays which accounted for 21 minutes and 32 seconds.
That isn’t, hasn’t been, and never will be a sustainable time differential for a team to win a game.
D’Andre Swift - 23 Snaps (47%), Kenneth Gainwell - 26 snaps (53%), Rashaad Penny 0
The last time Kenny Gainwell totaled more snaps than D’Andre Swift was Week 13. The Eagles had to throw the ball a billion times to try to rally against the San Francisco 49ers. Philly believes that Gainwell is a better pass protector than Swift, so the Week 13 usage was rational. Swift has had the edge since Week 2, and that too makes a ton of sense.
The Week 17 discrepancy between these two is wildly irrational. We know that Swift is a better runner (and probably a better receiver) than Gainwell. The Arizona Cardinals' defense isn't just susceptible to the run. Attacking them with the running game is like injecting Kryptonite straight into Superman’s heart.
Here's something else. We have been asking this all season. Where is Rashaad Penny? He was on the active roster for the Week 17 game but never saw the field. The guy has been phenomenal when he's healthy. If the Eagles aren't going to use him, there's seemingly been no reason for him to be on the roster. The dude just wants to play football and it feels criminal that they're holding him hostage.
By the way, Gainwell had five targets, and A.J. Brown had six. You should be furious about that.
Julio Jones - 20 snaps (41%), Olamide Zaccheaus 6 snaps (12%), Quez Watkins 0
If there is anything positive to take away from Week 17, it’s that Quez Watkins never sniffed the field. It wasn't fumbling against Washington, the interceptions in Dallas, dropping a pass in the Super Bowl, or any of his other gaffs in 2022 that caused the team to bench him, it was his piss-poor effort in a Week 15 game in 2023 that did it.
That being said, it would’ve been nice if he played so we could just blame this loss on him.