SEASON Reviews are usually done at the end of the season. A few are also done at the halfway mark. 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 currently stands, in relation to where it started. Then we can discuss where it needs to go next.
STATUS: 1 – 2 – 1 / 1st place in the NFC East / 21.0 points per game vs. 29.2 points allowed
(L) Washington 1 – 3
(L) Los Angeles Rams 3 – 1
(T) Cincinnati 1 – 2 – 1
( W) San Francisco 2 – 2
IT’S been a shit-show. Injuries (more than anything else), have derailed any sense of rhythm this team was supposed to have coming out of the gate. On Offense it’s led to inconsistencies, which have led to turnovers, which have left points on the field. On Defense it’s led to communications errors, magnified by gaps in talent, which have translated into points for the opponent.
QB (D): Why not an F for Carson Wentz? Because of context. Context means you look at the WHOLE picture, not just the stat-line. Washington was going well, until the sacks started piling up. He was bad in the Rams game. In the last two games however, Carson has put this team on his shoulders. Despite protection issues, and a lack of weapons, he’s figuring out how to keep us in games. Still, he has to get the turnovers under control. Jalen Hurts has played 10 snaps and still has two fumbles (Neither was lost.)
RB (C ): Miles Sanders has been effective running the ball, but far from dangerous. He hasn’t established himself as a tier of the Offense, merely as an option in it. The short passing game won’t pop until that happens. Boston Scott is not a true runner and it shows, in how easy it is to stop his forward progress. Corey Clement is scarcely being utilized.
TE (C ): Seems like a high grade until you realize that the production is off, because shorter routes are being emphasized for this position. The team is scheming away from Zach Ertz in order as they audition replacements. That was going fine until Dallas Goedert ended up on IR. Now the Eagles are standing in the rain, on the doorstep of the girl they just dumped, horny and somewhat humbled. “Looking for a little romance. Given half a chance.”
WR (D): The inability to stay healthy is bad enough, but the “next man up” needs to do a better job of trying to crack the starting line-up. As a group, so far they’ve caught 43 of 70 targets for 478 yards (11.1 ypc) and just 2 touchdowns. Greg Ward is the leader at this position, but he doesn’t even average 9 yards per catch. Taking what the defense gives you is one thing. Letting them dictate to you all game long, is quite another. These guys have to do a better job of getting open on intermediate and deep routes
T (D): Neither Jason Peters nor Lane Johnson has looked quite like themselves this season. With JP it’s a toe injury that put him on IR for a few games. With Johnson it’s offseason ankle surgery, that isn’t back to 100% yet. Rookie Jack Driscoll has played quite a bit of football this year, but he looks like a rookie. Three year project Jordan Mailata got his first start in the Eagles lone win. He wasn’t amazing, but there was definite promise there. Still this position has been too inconsistent to grade it highly.
G (C ): Matt Pryor and Nate Herbig won’t be mistaken for Pro Bowlers, but we haven’t lost a game since they became our starting tandem, two games ago. They aren’t the best pass blockers, but that has the upside of “encouraging” bootlegs and getting the ball out earlier.
C (D): Jason Kelce still understands leverage and landmarks, but his ability to win at the point of attack seems greatly diminished. Also he could do a better job of shielding the scramble lane. The good news is we’ve already seen the first of his annual two wild snaps. Kelce still is a wily vet, and he can get by on that. The question is: “Can the Eagles?”
DE (C): The sack production is there, with 10 in the first 4 games. Brandon Graham is on pace for a 12 sack season. So is Josh Sweat. Derek Barnett is on pace for 10. However, the backside run stopping is dangerously lax. Regardless of who lines up there (usually Barnett or Sweat), our RDE often doesn’t set the edge. Instead, they flatten to run down it. Without second level containment on that side, the Eagles fall frequent victim to reverses or stretch runs. FYI: It happens enough for opponents to be able to scheme for and target.
DT (A): This position is the engine that drives the Defense. It is the source of our power. They are the primary reason why we are giving up just 3.8 yards per rush. They also provide the pressure that has us leading the NFL in sacks. Fletcher Cox is Fletcher Cox of course, but Malik Jackson? Him?? As a group, all four players have 14 QB hits through 4 games. Jackson owns 9 of them. As an interior lineman!
OLB (D): Opponents now know that Nate Gerry has neither the speed to cover anyone, nor the strength to take on blockers. As a Nicklebacker (ugh!) playing ZONE, he provides a level of shift-on-the-fly flexibility that’s hard to match. However, as an every down ‘backer, he’s more like shit-under-flies. On the other hand, we haven’t lost since Duke Riley became a starter. Riley has also been lackluster, to put it kindly. The only splash play made by this group was Alex Singleton’s 30 yard game sealing pic-six vs the 49ers.
MLB (C ): T.J. Edwards wasn’t setting the world on fire, but we were getting some decent football out of him inside the Tackle box. But he’s on IR now, so…(nodding) ya know… In the meantime, getting a good look at rookie Shaun Bradley can only help his development. No one said they would, but at this point, they should.
S (C): FS Rodney McLeod has been targeted 13 times for 6 completions, just 68 yards, 0 TD’s, and a red zone interception. He’s been a low-key brightspot in the Secondary this season. Jalen Mills has been a bit of a disaster at SS. Targeted 7 times for 7 completions and a TD. Plus the soft tackling. His move back outside for WK4, was a godsend. During WK4, rookie Kavon Wallace got the start, while veteran Marcus Epps got most of the snaps. They weren’t All Pro, but they showed actual promise. The grade for next quarter should be higher. Provided that Mills stays outside.
CB (C): Darius Slay is the story here. He has no picks, and is allowing completions at a rate of 66%. However, he’s also only allowed 180 yards through 4 games, and his deflection in our lone victory, stopped George Kittle from stealing it from us, in the closing seconds of the game. Jalen Mills in that game was targeted 7 times, allowing just 2 completions for all of 6 yards. Never move him to Safety again. (Love him at N/CB though.) When we stopped playing Nickell Robey-Coleman 60% of the time, we started winning, and allowing 32 points per game. That, coincided with playing Cre’Von LeBlanc a lot more. So it feels like the Eagles are finding a rhythm at the position. A per game grade would look like D, F, C, B.
LS (A): The fact that you can’t recall mentioning Rick Lovato, is always a good thing.
P (A): Cameron Johnston is out there MURDERING IT so far. He’s averaging 51.6 yards per punt, 12 of which have been returned for an average of just 5.6 yards.
K (A): Jake Elliott is 7 of 7 on extra points and 6 of 7 from the field, with his only miss being from 50+ yards.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
We ended 2019 on a 4 – 0 tear, vs admittedly garbage ((cough) division), lever competition. We tweaked the Offense by moving around some coaches, and added a ton of speed. Injuries however, have reared their ugly heads, yet again. The difference is, now we’re so used to it, that we know how to take it in stride.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Getting the Offensive Line and the Secondary to gel, should be the focus of these next few games. We need to be able to solidly separate ourselves from the bottom of the division. While 4 – 0 would be great and should always be the goal, coming out of these next 4 (Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York giants, Dallas) at 2 – 2 seems more realistic.