SEASON Reviews are usually done at the end of the season. (Duh, right?) A few are done at the halfway mark, and/or at the end. Starting in 2017, Eaglemaniacal.com began treating the season like a game, and breaking it into four quarters. Since football is a hard sport, 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 next.
STATUS: 2 – 2 overall, 1 – 0 division, 2 – 2 conference, 2nd in the NFC East
W: Washington (0 – 4)
L: Atlanta (1 – 3)
L: Detroit (2 – 1 – 1 )
W: Green Bay (3 – 1)
Combined: 6 – 9 – 1
(Written prior to Week 5 Thursday Night Football. Statistics indicate where were after Week 4.)
Despite injuries, drops, and slow starts, the Offense is still 7th in the NFL with 27.5 points per game. The problem is the Defense which allows 26.2 points per game. Only 6 teams allow more. As far as pass defense, we are DEAD LAST in the NFL, allowing 323.8 yards per game. We have allowed 27 points in three of our four games so far.
The season will be a disaster if this keeps up.
QB: (A) Carson Wentz, despite drops, despite injuries to his receivers, despite having to stage a comeback in every game so far, despite all of these things, he has been nothing short of amazing. While many go by QBR stats and such, I’m old school. Wentz has 9 touchdown passes to just 2 interceptions. He also has rushed for a score, and has no fumbles, thus far. There is one small thing however. Wentz’s completion percentage so far this year is 60.7. However, he hasn’t completed 60% of his passes in any of the last three games.
RB: (C ) Rookie Miles Sanders leads the team in rushing attempts (45), but hasn’t been up to the task of being a starter. While his numbers get progressively better every week so far, he still has a tendency to come up small in key moments. Jordan Howard has been a beast when he gets the chance to play. He leads the team in rushing yardage (186), yards per run (4.6), and rushing touchdowns (3). Darren Sproles has been more effective as a runner, than as a receiver. Corey Clement has yet to record an offensive stat in 2019.
TE: (C ) Injuries both here, and to surrounding receivers, have limited the effectiveness of this position. Zach Ertz currently leads the team in receptions (24) and receiving yards (255), but his routes are less dynamic than they were a couple of seasons ago. He’s been less of a downfield threat since 2017. Dallas Goedert’s blocking and ability to make teams account for him in the passing game, is more than anyone can reasonably expect from a back-up.
WR: (B) This grade is lower a week ago, but with everyone looking to be back, the grade raises. Alshon Jeffery is on no one’s highlight reel right now, but even gimpy, he’s still a redzone threat, as evinced by 3 touchdowns (1 rushing, 2 receiving) inside of 16 yards. DeSean Jackson (when healthy) has been even better than we remember him being. Granted, the two touchdown bombs he caught were only against the Redskins, but name the other receiver who’s done that this year. I’ll wait. Nelson Agholor is (as always), a mixed bag. While his 3 touchdown catches are not to be taken lightly, his drops and tendency to fall off the radar are alarming. Mack Hollins is a 4th receiver who looks like he could be a 3rd if he got to play more. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in the slot, challenging Safeties on fade routes, from 40 to 25 yards out.
OT: (A) Lane Johnson has been Lane Johnson. ‘nuff said. Jason Peters has also been Jason Peters. That means he’s great when he’s in, but he’s prone to miss time on the field. Rookie Andre Dillard got his first taste of real NFL action when Peters went down. And then Dillard went down. The sample we got was fine, but not enough to get a true sense of him. When Dillard went down, Halapoulivaati Vaitai stepped in and didn’t make me spurt profanities. When a team can go three deep at this position, and it doesn’t cause panic or get the QB murdered, you’re doing great.
OG: (B) QB sneaks have been insanely successful, which says the initial burst and channel positioning are flawless. Isaac Seumalo has looked especially good pulling to his right. It seems like Brandon Brooks is being used more conservatively. Everyone’s run blocks in space, could be a bit cleaner. Blocks in general could also stand to last a second longer. Falling off blocks is causing us to leave too many big plays on the table. Also, when Wentz drops back, it would be nice to see these guys cause the rush to flow to the outsides, to open up some clean 4 or 5 yard scramble lanes, right up the gut.
C: (B ) Again, sneaks look good. Interior seal blocks aren’t dominant, but are solid. There has been some spotty placement on a few shotgun snaps, but nothing has caused a sack yet. A key word is needed, to release Jason Kelce off of a double-team, and turn him into a personal bodyguard on up the gut scrambles. That could result in some spirit-crushing, red zone running from Wentz.
DE: (D) Sacks are the currency that this position is judged by and as a group of six on the active roster (five who dress), there is currently one sack between them. One. As in uno. As in, half of dos. While all the blame for the lack of production isn’t on this unit, none of these guys has looked particularly fast chasing a QB outside of the pocket. Too often we aren’t making QB’s pay for that half a heartbeat, where they slow down to fire the ball, while on the move. Derek Barnett is also doing a terrible job of contain on mostly every down. He starts nearly every play trying to cross the face of the blocker. It opens too many lanes behind him for Screens and QB scrambles. DE Brandon Graham has played the run well, but he’s at zero sacks, a quarter into the year.
DT: (C ) Hassan Ridgeway and Akeem Spence are great depth guys, but with injuries to Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan, Spence and Ridgeway have been asked to step up. The result is that it’s now Fletcher Cox and just some guys out there. Still, despite the constant double-teaming that would have been impossible with Jackson or Jernigan, Cox has managed to already knock down two passes. So he’s getting back there.
OLB: (C ) Kamu Grugier-Hill is just coming back from injury. Nigel Bradham is the only other true player at this position. Bradham managed to seal aWeek 4 Eagles victory, with an interception in the end zone that would have allowed the Packers to take the lead and possibly win the game. They really aren’t schemed to do much besides occupy areas of the field.
MLB: (B) Zach Brown is doing an effective job as the thumper in the middle, and is also showing some skill in coverage. Nate Gerry is brought in to spell Brown, but he lacks the sand in his pants needed to be a genuine inside presence.
S: (D) It seems like the only player playing the position, is Rod McLeod. Unfortunately, he’s spending most of it in single-high coverage, in packages that allow for him to be pulled out of alignment, prior to the snap of the ball. Malcolm Jenkins and Andrew Sendejo, are essentially Nickel shadows, that work the underneath. While you won’t see them getting beat on long passes, they frequently don’t play deep enough to challenge those passes, or deliver kill-shots. This is another position that is not being schemed creatively.
CB: (F) Yes. Injuries. We know. However, our back-ups have seen extensive playing time as a result, and so that injury excuse, no longer applies in 2019, the way it did in 2018. At this point we’re experts on being without our best players at this position. That said, it doesn’t matter who’s day to day, who’s on the PUP list, or who was just promoted from the Practice Squad. Due to our scheme, it doesn’t matter which player is out there, there’s still going to be a huge cushion that allows the opposing QB to get the ball out in under 3 seconds. That means no pass rush. That means allowing long drives. That means a tired front seven by the end of the third quarter.
LS: (A) Rick Lovato. Does his job well enough to seem invisible.
P: (A) If our Defense was worth half a damn, Cameron Johnston would be a a candidate for team MVP. Out of 14 punts, 8 have pinned the opponent down in inside the 20. This has been helping us quietly win the field position battle.
K: (A) Jake Elliott is 4 of 4 kicking field goals and 10 of 10 on extra points. What more could we ask?
PR/KR: (B) Hear ye! Hear ye! Royal Punt Return Fool, Darren Sproles is on a mission this year! His 3 fair catches and 6 returns, says that he’s being aggressive. His 9.3 yard average says, look for him to break one. Soon. Kick Returner Miles Sanders almost broke one in Envy Bay last week.
KC: (C ) Aside from that 100 yard kickoff, that was returned to the center of our collective asses vs the Lions, the kick coverage has been decent.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
Since last quarter, we started a new season. We got healthy. We got deeper. We got hurt again… Injuries are part of football, so no excuses, please. That said, taking the same injuries, the same way, for the last three years, has gone from ironic, to frustrating, to fatalism.
Regardless. It is our job to overcome it.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Suck less for success.
If you scroll down the list of pass defenses, the only thing lower than our name, is the careers and contact information for the NFL’s website. We need to bolster our pass coverage, so that the rest of the Defense can get back on line.
To finish above .500 by next quarter, we need to take 3 of the next 4 games. We start with the Jets coming here, but then we have Minnesota, Dallas, and Buffalo, all on the road.
A three game win streak would put us atop the NFC East, regardless of what our division rivals do. However, that won’t happen if we can’t get our act together vs the pass.