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.
In 2021, the NFL expanded the season to 17 games, which makes for an uneven split. So this year (at least), these Quarterly Reports will come after Weeks 5, 9, 13, and 17. (Ugh. I hate even looking at that format.)
NOTE: Due to the short week between games 5 and 6, this report was pushed back a week. The Second Quarter will pick up on time, after Week 9.
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: 2 – 4, 3rd place in the NFC East, (Points per game: +22.8 /-25.3)
(W ) Atlanta (2 – 3)
(L) San Francisco (2 – 3)
(L) Dallas (4 – 1)
(L) Kansas City (2 – 3)
(W ) Carolina (3 – 2)
(L) Tampa Bay (5 – 1)
The Eagles have a losing record because they have a coaching staff loaded with smug children, who are too arrogant to ask for help, or take guidance from conventional wisdom. The result is a 2 – 4 team that likely would have been 4 – 2 under the previous coach.
QB: ( C ) Head Coach Nick Sirianni nixed the idea that Jalen Hurts can be a Franchise QB, during his post-game presser, after the Buccaneers loss. Sirianni’s exact words?
This is video is 9:07 long. Listen to what he says from 4:18 to 5:01.
NOTE: They won’t let me post it here, but you can watch it on YouTube.
So expect the Eagles to Draft a QB in April.
Despite playing in a simple scheme designed to get the ball out of his hand, Hurts is repeatedly late on Screens; which keeps leading to ineligible man penalties. He relies on a receiver to BE open, as opposed to throwing them open. His Swing passes float and never lead the RB. His flaws are obvious.
Anyone who’s worn a helmet can tell you how little peripheral vision you have in one. Anyone who knows that (which includes every head coach and position coach in the NFL), knows that Hurts doesn’t turn his head enough to be routinely going through progressions. When that first read isn’t open (as Sirianni said in the video), he looks to run. In short: Hurts is a one-read QB.
Still, Hurts has been as effective as any one-read QB that I’ve ever seen, or heard about. He doesn’t put the ball in dangerous places, and even when his scheme is failing him, he continues to trust it. From a coaching standpoint, he makes it very easy to review film, and spot where the flaws in the game-plan were. It makes Hurts an ideal coach’s QB, but the polar opposite of a franchise QB, from whom transcendent play is expected.
RB: ( C ) Miles Sanders averages 4.7 yards per carry, and has caught 18 of 23 passes thrown to him (78.3%) for 6.7 yards per catch. Kenneth Gainwell averages 4.8 yards per carry, and has caught 15 of 23 passes thrown to him (65.2%) for 8.2 yards per catch.
That’s a nice 1 – 2 punch! Or it should be. Problem is, through 6 games they have a combined 78 rushing attempts. Sanders leads the Eagles with 57 carries. Right behind him with 53, is QB Jalen Hurts. Put into perspective, division rival Ezekiel Elliott has 102 carries through 6 games. Elliott’s back-up has 61 carries. That team is 5 – 1. This team is 2 – 4. Any questions?
Our backs have done as much as they can with occasional rushes here and there, and playing out the Shotgun almost exclusively. They aren’t being put in a position to succeed. In fact, it seems like the run game is deliberately being scapegoated. Unfortunately for Sirianni, Philly sports fans are more knowledgeable than San Diego and Indy fans, and see through that shit.
TE: ( D ) Due to the trade of Zach Ertz, there is no point in discussing his play, as we can no longer build on it. I hate this.
Dallas Goedert has caught 15 of his 19 targets (78.9%), for 216 yards, 14.4 per catch and 2 scores. Both in the red zone. He needs to see more volume, once he gets back from Covid quarantine. The only knock on him this season is the fumble vs KC. It wasn’t lost, but still.
Jack Stoll is the only active TE on the roster right now. In 6 games he’s played 47 snaps on Offense with not one pass thrown his way. He’s played 77 downs on Special Teams. So that’s where we are for depth. Hopefully when Goedert gets back, he’ll be well enough to contribute. Otherwise we’ll need a Tyree Jackson sized miracle here.
WR: ( C ) Devonta Smith leads the team with 44 targets, 27 of which he’s hauled in (61.4%). His 12.8 yards per catch, and 1 touchdown are decent for a rookie, but more is needed next quarter. Jalen Reagor has caught 17 of 28 targets (60.7%), for 8.2 per catch and 1 score. He’s also coming off a game where he dropped all three balls that hit his hands. Quez Watkins needs to see more passes. Last year’s 5th string receiver, has started 5 games and caught 16 of 22 passes (72.7%), for 311 yards and 19.4 yards per strike. The leading scorer at this position is Greg Ward catching 2 balls for 30 yards and 2 scores. Until at least a few passes get thrown to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, officials are going to keep calling offensive pass interference, on the pick plays that he keeps running. Through 6 games he stands at zero targets.
This is not the most talented group in the NFL, but there is enough firepower to be dangerous on any given Sunday. The issue is that they lack a coach who knows how to maximize them as a combination.
OT: ( B ) LT Andre Dillard whom many Eagles fans had left for dead, has filled in admirably at starting LT, over these last 4 games. In 253 snaps, he’s allowed 0 sacks, and has had just 2 enforced penalties (out of 6). LT Jordan Mailata slid over to RT, when RT Lane Johnson (who started the first three games), missed the last three games due to anxiety and depression. OL Jack Driscoll started at RT during Week 4.
Fans need to understand that Johnson wasn’t “treated” for anxiety and depression. He is at the beginning of treatment. This will be an on-going process for him. Show him some love. Despite all the shuffling of faces, the Eagles are getting solid play from young bookends Dillard and Mailata. Could we be getting a glimpse of the future? If so, I think we’re in good hands.
OG: ( C ) Losing RG Brandon Brooks to I.R., and LG Isaac Seumalo being lost for the year, were huge blows. Fortunately, the Eagles had already drafted highly touted, rookie RG Landon Dickerson. Though he still needs some polish regarding the nuances of pass protection, in 272 snaps, he’s only allowed 1 sack. Over the last two games, Jack Driscoll has started at LG with no sacks, and no penalties. Nate “Too Big” Herbig started at LG vs KC and played well.
Being that the Eagles rarely run the ball, it’s hard to assess just what impact the young guys are having on the run game. What can be said, is RB’s in the last two games have run for 117 yards, on 22 carries (5.3ypc). So we are still getting some movement up there.
C: ( B ) Veteran Jason Kelce had a bad snap go over Hurts’s head vs KC. He’s been penalized twice, and allowed 1 sack. Still, he’s holding the young guys together, and helping them become true pros. Can’t badmouth that.
DE: ( F ) In 6 games Josh Sweat has 1.5 sacks. Those are all the sacks at this position. Derek Barnett has three penalties and just two tackles for losses. Ryan Kerrigan has played 153 snaps so far and has just ONE tackle to show for it. It was for a loss. He also plays fewer snaps each week. He had 35 vs Atlanta, and was down to just 16 vs Tampa. Rookie Tarron Jackson is hardly worth the mention of his name here.
These guys aren’t setting the edges to trap the run game between the Tackles, and they aren’t getting to the QB. Part of that is the loose coverage which allows quick throws. The other part is how they stick to blockers like they’re covered in Stickum.
I don’t know who’s teaching them their technique, but either he’s not teaching, or they’re not learning.
DT: ( A ) Javon Hargrave is putting up terrorist numbers with 6 sacks and 9 QB hits, so far. Fletcher Cox doesn’t have the numbers, but him eating double-teams is helping to get Hargrave the one-on-ones that he keeps shredding. Rookie Milton Williams has 9 tackles, with none for losses in 162 snaps. Hassan Ridgeway has 1 sack, 3 QB hits, and a tackle for a loss, in 132 snaps.
I have no idea why Williams plays more than Ridgeway. It’s teaching him that he can get snaps in exchange for being unproductive. That’s a horrible culture to seed, from a coaching staff that came in Rock-Paper-Scissoring about how competitive they are. (LOL. I said ‘scissoring’.) Still, this position is the engine of our Defense and it’s a great place to build from.
OLB: ( D ) Genard Avery has started 4 of 6 games. In the 4 games he started we were 2 – 2, and allowed an average of 17.5 points. In the 2 games he didn’t start, we allowed an average of 41.5 points, and you know how both of those turned out. His impact doesn’t show up on a stat sheet, just a scoreboard.
Alex Singleton has 67 tackles, and most of them seem to be made 8, 9 and 12 yards downfield. Of his 67 tackles, not one is for a loss. He has no sacks. He has one pass deflection. He’s mostly deployed in zone coverage, which allows completions in front of him. It also has him moving backwards at the snap, which hurts our run defense. He needs to be turned loose to read and chase, like he was able to do last year.
Davion Taylor is seeing a big ramp up in snaps over the last 2 games. Sadly, it hasn’t changed the level of impact he’s had on a game. This position has been a mess in terms of lack of vision. The timid zones they keep being asked to drop into, keeps allowing offenses to dictate both the action and the flow. As a result, our Defense is getting trapped on the field for longer and longer.
MLB: ( D ) Eric Wilson is listed on the Eagles website as the starter here. This is despite not starting since Week 4 vs KC. He picked off a pass intended for TE Travis Kelce, and has been riding pine ever since. Don’t ask. I have no answers.
T.J. Edwards has started 4 of the 6 games including the last one, but he hasn’t played 50% of the defensive snaps in any game this year. In fact, vs Dallas, Edwards saw a season-high 31 snaps, and sacked QB Dak Prescott. His reward? Not even playing one-third of any game since then. Despite not starting, Edwards keyed our Week 5 victory with a punt block.
The message seems to be, if you make a big defensive play, you sit the next day. The worst part is, that both Wilson and Edwards played all 6 games. They were swapped out while healthy! This seems to be hurting the unit’s communication and grasp of the scheme. I don’t hold usage against the players, but I’m grading the position’s impact on games, so I have to tell it like it is.
S: ( F ) Anthony Harris’s Week 6 interception was just the second play on a ball by this position all season long. Harris has 6 starts 39 tackles and that pick. Not one of his tackles is for a loss. Back from injury, Rodney McLeod has started the last 3 games. The two may not be related, but since he’s been back, we’ve gotten 5 interceptions. We had none while he was out.
K’Von Wallace we keep being told, is the future beyond McLeod, but I don’t see it. He’s on I.R. now, and Marcus Epps is getting another opportunity, but not doing much with it. The Cover Two that they’re played in, would be more opportunistic and predatory, if they weren’t so often saddled with loose coverages in front of them.
CB: ( C ) We are 2 – 0 this season when Darius Slay gets a finger on a football. His two interception game against Carolina, essentially kept the Eagles in the game. Not only does he have 2 picks, he has 2 tackles for a loss. Steven Nelson has 3 deflections and a pick. Avonte Maddox hasn’t picked one off yet, but from the Nickel he’s got 3 pass break-ups, half a sack, and 3 tackles for a loss. He’s already on his way to the best year of his career.
Our starters have played 426 (Slay) and 428 (Nelson) snaps, out of a possible 431. They have missed a combined 8 snaps between them all season so far. When allowed to play aggressive man, these two can take over a game. However, they are mostly asked to play loose man or zone, because Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon is a moron.
LS: ( B ) Rick Lovato hasn’t blown any snaps, but he also has yet to make tackle on a coverage unit.
P: ( B ) Arryn Siposs! I had my doubts about him, but this guy is killer. On 25 boots, he’s averaging 45.8 yards, with just 10 returned for 93 yards (with 22 on 1 return). The numbers don’t sing out, but if you watch the games, Siposs does an very good job of using the sidelines to give the opponent shitty starting field position. I look forward to seeing him get better.
K: ( C ) Jake Elliott exits the first part of the year 12/12 (100%) on extra points, but just 7/9 (77%) on Field Goal attempts. Both misses were from 40-49 yards, and at home, where he should have a better handle on predicting wind swirl in the stadium.
His kickoffs are also an area of concern. Of his 28 KOs, 9 have been returned for 206 yards (22.8). While the return average isn’t a problem, returners feeling confident in returning a third of his KO’s, opens the door to momentum swinging plays. He needs to bury his kicks.
PR/KR: ( F ) Jalen Reagor averages a paltry 4.7 yards on 11 punt returns, and has 90 yards on 3 kickoff returns. Quez Watkins leads the team in Kickoff returns with 5, but his 14.8 return average suggests that he should down it in the end zone.
KC: ( B ) The kickoff coverage unit does a good job, but shouldn’t be put in a position to be tested so much. The 9.3 yard punt return average needs to come down somewhat. We have to take the edges away from returners and make them run through more traffic.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
There’s a new coaching staff, and quite honestly it sucks. There’s a show called ‘BoJack Horseman’ where the lead character’s agent (Princess Caroline), is dating two kids in a trenchcoat, calling themselves “Vincent Adultman”. PC is so preoccupied with herself, that she doesn’t even notice that she’s carrying on an entire relationship with two kids in a trenchcoat.
This is what it feels like to watch this coaching staff, while hearing NOTHING from Owner Jeff Lurie. Is he too preoccupied to notice what’s happening to his team? His coaching staff is two kids in a trenchcoat! And the rest of us are going nuts trying to point it out!
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Usually, in this section I talk about what needs to be tightened up on the field. However, most of our problem is on the sideline. Before we can tackle player deficiencies, the coaching staff has to stop being the team’s biggest obstacle. I want to be wrong about this staff. I NEED to be! But right now it feels like Lurie really Jeffed this one up.
Nick Sirianni needs to take note that the NFL works a certain way for a reason. Teams run the ball for a reason. Linebackers attack, for a reason. Coming in as a rookie, and deciding to dismiss decades of hard learned lessons, is foolish. Especially when it keeps being demonstrated in humiliating fashion, that his way is wrong. Dead wrong. Oh so wrong.
This is going to be a short quarter (just 3 games), so the goal here will be modest. The Detroit Lions are the Detroit Lions. The Chargers could be a problem. The Raiders are in a state of upheaval after the raw deal that Head Coach Jon Gruden got. (C’mon. Just imagine what Buddy Ryan, Bill Parcells, and Mike Ditka’s e-mail accounts would have looked like. What would coach Jimmy Johnson have thought about drafting Michael Sam? Exactly!) But I digress.
These next three games are winnable, but let’s be honest here, any two of them would feel nice to get our mitts on. Today were 2 – 4 . While 5 – 4 would be great, let’s set our sights on 4 – 5 for the next time we meet up here. Nick Sirianni, TAKE NOTE!