MANY fans will want to dump on Head Coach Doug Pederson for going for it on 4th and short, instead taking those two field goals. To hell with that. That’s all window dressing. Look a little deeper and you’ll see something much more important and far more pervasive. It’s something that would only rear it’s head in a game like the giants game, and in moments like those we just faced.
What you’d see is a team with no real sense of it’s own limitations. History shows that there is no more important ingredient in a hand-spun, homemade, old world ass whipping. We avoided it by playing the giants last week, but Atlanta may not be so kind this week.
This was the game where we learned some of the things we simply can’t get away with. We’ve all heard the expression “athletes who play within themselves”. Players who don’t over-reach and focus on what they’re good at. That’s a nice way of saying for example, that Steve Kerr wasn’t as talented as Michael Jordan, but he still found a way to be great in his own right. Well, the Eagles have a bunch of Kerrs (see what I did there?), and are damned short on Jordans.
It’s important to work within your limits once you’ve learned what they are. That way you can avoid future beatdowns of the abjectly humiliating and spiritually traumatic variety. So class, what did we learn specifically on Sunday?
We learned that RB Darren Sproles has never been a bell-cow RB for a damned good reason. On 59 carries this year, he’s yet to see the end zone or break a run for 20 yards. His 36 touches over the last two weeks have taken a visible toll on his quickness and explosiveness. Which explains why he ran out of gas on the punt return that he almost brought back Sunday. Bet you hadn’t put those two together.
We learned that QB Carson Wentz might have good straight ahead speed, but he can’t evade NFL level speed on bootlegs. If he’s going to bootleg, it has to be into a throw. That option running stuff is out of the question for him. He’s just too slow at this level. If he drops back and the pocket splits, by all means young man, RUN! These QB option plays though? They have to go. Unless we’re drafting another QB.
We learned that DT Beau Allen is at best a stop-gap player. He gave us all a reason to sit up and take notice in the preseason, but since the games began to count, he’s been only useful as a plugger vs the run. Even when going against an O-line decimated by injury. Despite frequent double teams on DT Fletcher Cox, Allen also can’t take advantage of one on one blocks and is a likely candidate for being replaced after this year.
We learned that WR Nelson Agholor is holding the team back. While Agholor had more catches than rookie WR Bryce Treggs, Treggs managed to both, beat his man deep AND catch the ball. Those are two traits we have yet to see much from Agholor. He’s had a season and a half to make the sort of impression that Treggs did within mere minutes of his NFL debut. While I wouldn’t go so far as to start Treggs over Agholor, it’s clear that Agholor needs to sit.
So there you go. Four things (see what I did there?) that the team entered the giants game thinking they could get away with, but learned they need to stop. Making the adjustments to these things won’t cost a dime. They don’t need to bring in anybody. This is just a matter of playing within themselves and doing what they’re actually good at. And no, Screen passes are not on that list.