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Inability to protect Carson Wentz costs Eagles

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz spent his afternoon under siege.

The Tennessee Titans' pass rush was coming over the walls from every direction, harassing Wentz from the front side, the blind side and right up the gut. The inability to protect the franchise quarterback, who is coming off a multi-ligament knee injury, is a big reason why the Eagles' 17-3 advantage evaporated, leading to an eventual 26-23 loss in overtime.

The defense needs to wear some of this as well. Letdowns in the secondary, which was operating without Rodney McLeod (knee) for the first time, led to some big plays in key moments. The Titans converted on fourth down three times in overtime, setting up Marcus Mariota's touchdown throw to Corey Davis to end it. But that unit has carried the Eagles over the first quarter of the season while the offense tries to round into form, and it appeared gassed at the end.

Wentz was sacked four times and absorbed 11 hits as the Eagles dropped to 2-2.

"It's part of the game," Wentz said, when asked if he's getting hit too much. "I'll watch the film. There's times where I hold onto the ball too long, there's miscommunication, some protections that we can get called right."

The Eagles' offensive line is regarded as one of the best in the league and created plenty of push on Philly's lone overtime possession, but on this day was unable to solve what defensive coordinator Dean Pees was throwing at them for the most part, especially when he dialed up the blitz.

Wentz was blitzed on 34 percent of his dropbacks (compared to 25 percent last week against Indianapolis), per ESPN Stats & Information. Three of his sacks came against extra pressure. It was just the second time he's taken three sacks against the blitz in his young career, the other being Week 7 against Washington last season.

"They blitzed quite a bit," said right tackle Lane Johnson. "I think they did a good job with their defensive front, they have good interior guys, good D-ends, great pressure. We have to do a better job with protecting the quarterback, and just try to grow from it."

The good news for Wentz and the Eagles' offense is that Alshon Jeffery returned to the lineup. He gutted through a virus that sidelined him for two days of practice this week, interrupting his comeback from rotator cuff surgery, and posted eight catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Along with tight end Zach Ertz (10 catches, 112 yards), Wentz now has two security blankets that he can lean on in critical moments.

But he needs time in the pocket first, and he was not allotted nearly enough of it Sunday.

In order to regain the heights reached in 2017, and more importantly, to avoid another serious injury to the QB, the leaks up front need to get fixed and quick. Next up is a desperate Minnesota Vikings team that will be looking to re-establish their defensive dominance at Philly’s expense.

"We have to find a way to keep him upright," Ertz said. "It's not always on the O-line. The receivers and tight ends, we have to do a better job of getting open; can't face third-and-10-plus situations where he's got to hold onto the ball to let the routes develop. It's a multitude of factors. It's not the O-line, they're great players, so we just have to get it fixed."