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: 5 – 7, 2nd in NFC East
W Chicago Bears (6 – 6)
L New England Patriots (10 – 2)
L Seattle Seahawks (9 – 2)
L Miami Dolphins (3 – 9)
Combined: 28 – 19
We shit the bed this quarter.
The mission for this quarter was to cultivate a second WR. We played half of this stretch without either our #1 WR and without the guy masquerading as a #2. Instead of stabilizing our Offense, we lost pieces. The last three games were without our leading rusher.
Defensively we’ve been mostly solid for three fourths of this quarter. However the issues that have haunted us for years, continue to be an area that Philadelphia as a franchise seems incapable of ever mastering anymore.
QB: (B) Some would say that this grade is too high for Carson Wentz, given how errant some of his deliveries have been, and the 6 turnovers in 4 games. I would argue that with the receivers he’s had, and his lack of chemistry with them, it’s a wonder Wentz managed to manufacture any sort of scoring during the middle part of this period. Given the circumstances, I’d fairly put this at a C+, but I don’t do the +/- thing, so I chose to just round it up.
RB: (C ) These last few games have shown that Mile Sanders needs Jordan Howard on the field. Without Howard to account for, teams are able to defend Sanders more honestly. It’s not only made him seem less explosive, it has also significantly changed the routes that Sanders gets to run. The Eagles are 0 – 3 since Howard disappeared from the line-up. Jay Ajayi was added to the roster during this stretch, but he doesn’t see enough work to make a dent, since in part, what he’s good at is tiring out defenders.
TE: (B) This position has carried the passing attack during this quarter. They get open and generally are sure handed. The biggest knock on them, is more about how they’re not utilized downfield enough. There isn’t a better TE duo in the sport than Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
WR: (D) 2019 hasn’t been a good year for this position, but this last quarter has been flat out abysmal, overall. I say overall because It wouldn’t be fair to throw Greg Ward into this meat grinder. After FINALLY being promoted from the Practice Squad, he’s made good on his opportunities. I won’t blame a man for making an 8 yard catch on an 8 yard throw. I also won’t ding Alshon Jeffery too hard. Less because of his most recent game (which was very good), and more because even when he was playing hurt, as our only real outside threat, he still managed to produce for us. I won’t turn my nose up at such an effort. On the other hand JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and Nelson Agholor have been trash. There’s a player inside of Agholor, but I’m not sure there’s one in JJAW.
OT: (C ) This position grades lower this quarter, because it’s been so inconsistently staffed. LT Jason Peters and RT Lane Johnson have been pretty good when they’ve been out there. Rookie Andre Dillard looks great at LT, just don’t ask him play RT. Which is exactly what happened when Johnson went down for a game with a concussion. So Dillard was pulled. Halapoulivaati Vaitai played like garbage truck juice when filling in for the rookie. The Eagles should have traded him when they were getting offers.
OG: (D) Mentioning Brandon Brooks anxiety flare-up, surely makes me an asshole to everybody, but his absence helped cost us a game. That’s a fact. Not to knock Matt Pryor, but Pryor rides pine for a reason. Isaac Seumalo may be athletic and good blocking on the move, but his lack of raw aggression in the phone-booth, still leads him to fall off blocks, and be driven back into the pocket too often. We need more from this position over this next quarter.
C: (C ) It feels like Jason Kelce is about ready to retire. He’s never been the most intense player, but now it seems like his concentration is waning. The interior of this line needs an overhaul.
DE: (C ) Derek Barnett still reverts to chase mode too quickly. He doesn’t do a consistent job of setting the edge, first. This is helping to open the door for cutback runs, Jet Sweeps, and flea-flickers. It tells opposing coaches that they can attempt that sort of stuff. Brandon Graham would be having a career year if we could cover worth a damn. Vinny Curry and Josh Sweat have been bringing heat when they get their minutes. The issue is more about the rotation, and less about the players in it. Barnett lacks the suddenness to play the blindside the way that he wants to play it, but Eagles aren’t going to put him behind Graham, so it leaves us stuck.
DT: (B) Our Defensive resurgence of recent is often put down to the Secondary getting healthy, but for my money it had more to do with the return of Tim Jernigan. His presence allowed Fletcher Cox to become more disruptive again. We’ve also benefited from the addition of 350 pound rookie NT Anthony Rush. Unlike the other players whom we brought in to patch the loss of Malik Jackson, Rush makes solo tackles. No pun intended, he could be huge down the stretch.
OLB: (D) Kamu Grugier-Hill doesn’t make big plays. He’s a jumped-up Special Teamer in a role that’s too big for him. (At least in this system.) At times he hasn’t gotten enough playing time, but that hasn’t been the case this quarter, as he’s started all 4 games, yet produced no sacks, turnovers, forced no fumbles and tipped no passes. His best game was just 5 tackles. Nate Gerry has become an impact player on the outside. He works well in space and also has shown an ability to get to the QB, with 1.5 sacks this quarter. The biggest knock on this position is with who is no longer used on the outside (Bradham), and that the fall-off in aggression and play-making ability from him to KGH, is impossible not to notice.
MLB: (D) Nigel Bradham was moved into the middle to take advantage of his combination of size and speed, as well as utilize his familiarity with the scheme to call the assignments. On paper all of that looks great, but doing it required transforming a really good edge player, into a so-so interior player. It’s also limited his play-making and play denying opportunities. T.J. Edwards needs to play more. (We are undefeated (2-0) when he starts.) But seriously, he needs to play more just so that we know what we have in him. Some reports say he’s athletically limited, others rave about him. His one start this quarter didn’t put a thumb on either side of that scale.
S: (C) The stats for the quarter shows that plays are being made (3.5 sacks, 3 passed defensed, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble). The trouble is in the utilization of the players. Malcolm Jenkins is not a Linebacker, and Rod McLeod can’t cover both deep sidelines alone. Too often there is only one defender back deep, and it hurts the team defense. This is insanity. It’s hard to ding the players for a coaching decision, but it’s equally hard to give a top grade to our Achilles Heel.
CB: (C) Coming off of the Miami game, that grade will be hard to swallow, but this report isn’t about one game. It’s about the last four. Over that stretch we’ve gotten back our top two players at the position in Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. Their return has coincided with five of our six best defensive performances, three of which were during this quarter. The Nickel spot continues to be troublesome, as Avonte Maddox has done little more than tackle when playing there. Though we’ve played less Nickel during this period. Sidney Jones is all but done being an Eagle, as he was a healthy scratch for two of these games. Also we’ve allowed a minimum of 24 points this year, every time he starts or plays significant time. Ubba-G’byeeeee!
LS: (A) Rick Lovato is practically invisible and as reliable as a metronome. That’s probably why Eagles brass threw four more years’ worth of money at him.
P: (D) This quarter we punted 20 times vs 15 last quarter. That’s not on Cam Johnston. This quarter we allowed 12 returns vs 5 last quarter. That’s either A) less hang-time, or B) outkicking our coverage. Both of those have to be laid literally at the foot of Johnston. Given that two of our losses this quarter were close, on days where the Offense struggled, you have to figure that faring better in the hidden yardage battle, would have helped.
K: (B) The damned announcers jinxed Jake Elliott in Miami, mentioning that he hadn’t missed a Field Goal attempt all season. So of course he got his first miss. (Assholes.) Otherwise he’s 17/18 (94%) on the season, and capable of booting it from 50-plus reliably. That said, his KR percentage is 28% on the year, but it’s crept up to 36% for the quarter, and his touchback to return ratio is 10:7 during that span. At 23.7 per return, it seems like flirting with disaster to not just kick it through the back of the end zone.
PR/KR: (F) During these last four games, between two players, we’ve returned just 3 punts, for all of 10 yards. Kickoff returns have produced just 7 attempts for 136 yards, with nary a return vs Miami. RB Boston Scott owns 5 of those returns for 105 yards. There is nothing Special about this part of the team.
KC: (D) 6.5 yards per punt return isn’t bad, but it could be tighter. In fact, it’s up half a yard over last quarter. Allowing under 24 yards per kickoff return may sound like a win for the unit, but the increased number of returns means that returners feel emboldened enough by something they see, to take a chance. Either the ball has to be kicked through, or we need to get down there fast enough to make them take a knee.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
The team has seemed lost. Part of it is that, there are too many sacred cows on this team. The interior O-Line, Derek Barnett, and KGH to be specific. The other part is that there are no spark plugs on Offense. The default in the culture say that it’s supposed to be the QB. Reality on the other hand paints a very different picture.
Chest pounding, screaming, trash-talking, rally the troops, type bravado is generally not found in a team’s QB. It’s usually a RB or a WR. Rarely you get a TE like Shannon Sharpe who fires ‘em up. Whatever it is, the Eagles don’t have one. Haven’t since Terrell Owens.
Often these players can be a headache, but when your team gets emotionally stuck, like the Eagles are, a team needs one of those guys. Unfortunately for the Offense, all of our guys like that are on Defense. Cox, Jenkins, Mills, Graham, none of those guys play Offense
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Win all four games or there will be no postseason.
If we find a way to lose to the giants Monday night, the playoff dream is over, so we should play our youth exclusively, and sit anyone we have no plans on bringing back. Every win will count toward building the pups, and every loss will be Draft positioning.
Either we win out, or the second we lose a game, we should start building 2020 and beyond.
(Unless the Cowboys lose to the Rams, in which case we’ll have new life.)