SEASON Reviews are usually done at the end of the season. (Duh.) A few are done at the halfway mark, and/or at the end. This year, Eaglemaniacal.com will treat the season like a game, and break it into four quarters. We’ll take a hard look at where our team stands at the moment (in relation to where it started), and where it needs to go.
10 – 2 overall, 4 – 0 division, 8 – 1 conference, sole leader of the NFC East, tied for NFL’s best record
Denver (3 – 9)
Dallas (6 – 6)
Chicago (3 – 9)
Seattle (8 – 4)
Denver was win number 8, which guaranteed us .500 this year. Dallas was win number 9, which guaranteed us our first winning season in three years. Chicago was win number 10, which put us in the double-digit win column. In Seattle we hit a wall, and had to sit at 10 wins for a week.
This puts us on the threshold of the playoffs with either one more win by us, or with a loss by Dallas.
QB: (B) With 10 touchdowns and 1 interception in the last 4 games Carson Wentz should get an “A”, right? Not really. That pick and a lost fumble, were both against the Seahawks, who are the only +.500 team we’ve played this quarter. Perfection only against shit teams, isn’t perfection. There is room for improvement.
RB: (B) Ranked 2nd in the NFL with 143 rushing yards per game, the three-headed RB attack is working here. The only knock on this group is that none of them is a complete back. Only Corey Clement is any good at catching the ball, but his pass pro needs polishing. Jay Ajayi is purely a runner, as his blitz pick-up and receiving skills leave plenty to be desired. LeGarrette Blount is a good runner and reliable as a blocker, but he doesn’t catch passes. When any of them is on the field we’re sort of telegraphing our next move because teams know what each of them don’t do well.
TE: (C ) Zach Ertz had a big game against Chicago, where he became the only Eagle to record a 100 yards receiving in a game this year. Other than that he’s been quiet over these last 4 games, as he missed the Denver game with an injury and was knocked out of the Seattle game with a concussion. Trey Burton has been great when called upon this year, but the coaching staff simply doesn’t work him in enough.
WR: (D) This is VERBATIM what I said for the last TWO quarters, and sadly, every word still fits to a “T”: They block downfield and clear out space for the run game, but more is to be expected of a #1 and #2 receiver, than to be respectively #2 and #4 on the team in receptions.
Over the last four games, Alshon Jeffery has put up solid #2 WR numbers. However, we rewarded him with a 4-year extension that pays him like a #1. He responded to that signing, by promptly disappearing during the Seahawks game. Torrey Smith has caught an 11 yard pass in each of the last 4 games. In each of those games it has been his longest reception. Why are we still starting him? Nelson Agholor has caught the attention of the fans, but he’s inconsistent week to week.
OT: (C ) Lane Johnson is playing as well as I’ve ever seen from him. On the other side, it’s a whole other story. Halapoulivaati Vaitai has gotten better, but he’s still a disaster area. Not only are his feet slow, but now it seems that his eyes are slow. Stunts and outside-in set-ups, seem to go unread by him. In any case Wentz is paying for the decision to start Vaitai. Worse yet, there is no depth behind him.
OG: (A) Watching Stefen Wisniewski cross the Center and lock-up defenders on run plays, just about turns me into one of those teen girls who screamed when the Beatles were playing. The man has damned near turned short-area blocking into an art-form. Brandon Brooks has been solid. He and Lane Johnson may be the best right-side in the sport.
C: (C ) Just when I was going to write more positively about Jason Kelce, he goes wildly spraying snaps against an opponent like Seattle.
DE: (B) Brandon Graham is having the best year of his career with 8.5 sacks, and 3.5 in the last 4 games. Vinny Curry has been an animal against the run. Sack production from anyone besides Graham in this rotation, has fallen off in the last 3 games.
DT: (B) While play vs the run has been outstanding, pass rush has fallen off considerably. It’s decent, but not quite where it needs to be for a playoff team. Gotta pick it up here.
OLB: (B) Nigel Braham and Mychal Kendricks have 63 tackles apiece, and do a great job of covering gaps created by defensive linemen who are allowed to roam as they hunt.
MLB: (D) Since Jordan Hicks was lost for the year, Joe Walker has been filling in. He hasn’t been very good, and the result is a clear drop off in the performance of our defensive interior.
S: (B) In the last 4 games we’ve gotten 5 interceptions from our top three guys here. It certainly sends the message that throwing in the middle of the field can be hazardous to a drive. However, we still allow too many easy/unpunished reception.
CB: (C ) We aren’t getting enough hands on the ball. Even as a deflection. Until that happens this position will keep seeing heavy traffic.
LS: (A) Snaps are on time and well-placed. No complaints here.
P: (D) Over the last 4 weeks Donnie Jones punting average has dropped a little each week. He has also provided returners an opportunity for a return, 5 times in 13 punts.
K: (B) Due to a few games of prolific scoring and being knocked from one game with a concussion, Jake Elliott has only attempted 4 field goals in 4 weeks. (He made 3.) The issue has been with his kickoffs. In the last 4 games, 13 out of 20 (65%) of his kickoffs were returned.
PR/KR: (C ) RB Kenjon Barner has been a competent fill-in for Darren Sproles.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
The mission for this quarter, was to go 3 – 1 and let the NFC know that the road to Minneapolis runs through Philadelphia. I said that we needed to defeat Seattle to make that point. Well we lost to Seattle, and now it seems that the road to Minneapolis runs through Minnesota. We failed to accomplish this part of our mission and given the ease of Minnesota’s remaining schedule, it looks as if attaining home-field advantage will require the Vikings roster to contract a long-term, team-wide, flu bug. That’s highly unlikely. (BUT FINGERS CROSSED, RIGHT!?)
Still, we went 3-1 over that stretch. That’s by no means anything to hang our heads over. In fact, of all the teams in this quarter, if we had to drop a game, Seattle is the easiest loss to stomach. Besides, given the nature of the loss itself, it may have been a great teaching tool prior to the playoffs.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Finishing 13 – 3 is the goal. 14 -2 would be better, but 13 – 3 should be enough to get us a Bye during the playoffs. Every playoff game you play is a chance to lose, get a player injured, or both.
We don’t want to play a bunch of playoff games just to say we did. We only want the playoff games because it gets us to the Super Bowl. Ultimately what we want is to win this Super Bowl. That said, the fewer qualifiers we need to beat the better it is for us.
Getting a pass during the Wild Card round also gives our players time to rest up, coaches time to plot, and puts additional wear and tear on whoever we’d face. Instead off Wild Card, then Division, then Conference, we’d just have Divisional and Conference games to win to get into the Super Bowl.
So 13 – 3 is the goal. If we do better than that, it’s gravy.