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: 3 – 6 , 2nd place in the NFC East, (Points per game: +25.2/-24.2)
( L ) Las Vegas
( W ) Detroit
( L ) Los Angeles Chargers
Progress has been made on Offense. In all three of these games, Head Coach Nick Sirianni has made a solid commitment to running the ball. As a result, the Offense is more stable and sustains drives better. So the Defense actually gets time to rest now.
If only the Defense could get off the field without giving up touchdowns first.
QB: (D) Jalen Hurts hasn’t thrown an interception in three weeks, however he’s only been responsible for 3 scores (passing or running) during that same span. Part of that has been the establishment of our run game helping him out. He’s gone from attempting 34.6 passes per game in the first 6 games, to just 21.6 (65 total) over the last 3 games.
Unfortunately, his lower usage has only highlighted the flaws in his game. Being a one read QB, by default Hurts favors clear and easy passes. He takes as much as a route can pry from the defense. What he doesn’t do, is create with his eyes or his delivery. (If he ever learns to convincingly pump fake on a scramble, he’ll be a friggin Pro Bowler.)
Hurts is a very good triggerman, in terms of executing what’s laid out for him. If Chip Kelly were still the coach here, the Deshaun Watson trade rumors may not have gained any traction. However, most systems require a QB to think and decipher. Hurts is also easily punked and bullied out of attempting the sort of throws that separate franchise QB’s from Sam Bradford types.
Gardner Minshew came in and went 2/2 while playing hand-off machine, during mop-up time in Detroit.
RB: (B) Miles Sanders was hurt early in the game vs Vegas. Since then, the Eagles have been starting Boston Scott, and he has been productive as a runner. What he truly excels at however, is catching Screen passes and then getting lost in blockers. Unfortunately, he’s only been thrown 5 passes all season so far.
Promoted to the Active Roster is a guy who NEVER belonged on the Practice Squad in the first place, Mr. Jordan Howard. While it’s true that the Eagles have been good at running the ball in these last couple of weeks, the attitude of this run game is Howard. He’s not just running for yardage, he’s taking yardage when he’s out there. He enables the Eagles to impose their will.
While Kenneth Gainwell is playing about as much as he did when Sanders was healthy, but he’s not quite seeing the situations that he was. For example, he doesn’t get first quarter red zone action, and he hasn’t had a pass thrown his way in two games.
Overall though, the Eagles ground game has looked like a force to be reckoned with. Granted, these last three opponents weren’t the stiffest test, but for a team just finding the run, they can’t be ignored.
TE: ( C) Dallas Goedert put up 185 yards over these last 3 games (61.6), but it’s little more than window dressing. In those games, Goedert has played 161 downs, but drawn targets on just 18 of them (for 12 catches). Though his 18 targets represent nearly 1/3 of his QB’s 65 attempts over the same period, his 12 catches for no scores, indicates how little he’s been factoring into games.
Jack Stoll caught a 9 yard pass in the blowout over Detroit. He’s played quite a bit over these last two weeks, and with the resurgence of the run game, one has to wonder about how much of that success is due to his blocking. Converted QB Tyree Jackson finally got his feet wet vs the Chargers. He didn’t do much. Didn’t see a pass thrown his way. I think they just wanted him to get a look at game speed.
Despite giving the position credit for its contributions to the run game, More is expected from Goedert if he wants to show the world that he wasn’t just a well-protected back-up,
WR: (F) In these 3 games, Devonta Smith has seen 18 targets. The other four receivers have seen 14. Total.
OT: (B) The bookends of Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata played three straight games for the first time this season. The result is a QB who doesn’t have to look at his line to know where people are, as he starts to pick his way through pressure. That has resulted in us surrendering an average of 1 sack per game, instead of 2. Which we did last quarter.
OG: (B) Lie and say that you miss Isaac Seumalo! Landon Dickerson despite being a rookie, seems like an improvement already. He doesn’t get ridden back into the QB on passing downs and, you don’t catch him standing around on run plays, since he’s always looking to hit someone.
Jack Driscoll has been plug-and-play all along the line, and has been decent to good (not great), when he plays. He doesn’t look like a long-term starter. What he looks like, is a guy who’ll hang with one team for 6 years, learn what’s needed in all of the roles, and deliver a reasonable facsimile of it, when called upon. Then he’ll sign a big free agent deal, full of guaranteed money to go elsewhere, where he’ll immediately look like a career back-up. Always amazes me when these guys leave their first team.
Nate “Too Big” Herbig filled in for Driscoll vs Detroit and got to maul some Lions. Again, Nate is a solid (not great) interior force when called upon. He seems to have a little more upside than Driscoll, but it’s hard to feel they’re being judged accurately, when they’ve both been moved around so much, across two coaching staffs.
Given the losses taken at this position, it should be one of weakness, but it’s not. The best part, is, that it doesn’t have to be judged on a sliding scale, or a curve.
C: (B) Jason Kelce has been holding the young guys together, and the errant snaps have been cut down due to the QB lining up under C more. It’s really a good look for the elder statesman, as he trots out what has to be his last race.
DE: (F) This position grabbed 4 sacks vs Detroit, and 0 in the other two games. There were 7 hits on the QB vs Detroit, and 0 in the other two games. Outside of the (then) 0 – 7 Lions, there have been no forced fumbles. There have been no fumble recoveries. This position practically doesn’t exist.
While a lot of the problem with our pass rush is tied to generously loose coverage, it’s impossible not to notice the lack of tackles for losses against the run, in any game NOT played vs the Lions. This means that these guys are just not being effective PERIOD.
Josh Sweat played better in past seasons on the right. So far this year, he’s been asked to play the left spot in the absence of Brandon Graham. I don’t think he has the strength for it. He doesn’t set the edge vs the run, and is too easy to re-route on his way to the passer.
DT: ( C) Opposing QB’s are getting rid of the ball too fast for this position to be effective pass rushers now. They are however, a big reason that over these three games, that we’ve allowed an average of 88.3 rushing yards per game. Particularly Fletcher Cox. They’ve also done a great job of keeping the MLB clean. It’s not worthy of a party, but it’s a building block.
OLB: (F) Genard Avery and Davion Taylor have been the starters during the last three games. Four really. Still, neither of them is making a noticeable impact out there. The coaching staff seems to want a long look at what Taylor has to offer, so he’s going to keep starting, regardless. Alex Singleton was benched after the win at Carolina, but with Taylor out there, Singleton would upgrade our tackle range and ball-skills.
MLB: (B) The Eagles outright cut Eric Wilson and elevated T.J. Edwards to the starting role. Edwards has been a key reason that rushing yards for our opponents have gone off a cliff, recently. He benefits from having two DT’s who command as much attention as they do, but to his credit, he does get off of blocks very well. As a result, he been a tackling machine.
S: (F) This position has produced 2 pass break-ups and some tackles in the last three games.
CB: (D) We are 3 – 0 this season when Darius Slay gets so much as a finger on the football. We are 0 – 5 when he doesn’t. Seems like the Defensive Coordinator should scheme him into positions where he can compete for the ball more.
Avonte Maddox was the only player at this position to show up in games without Detroit in them. Maddox snagged a pick vs Las Vegas, early in the game. Otherwise, over this span, we’re giving up a completion rate of 83 (88/106). Not factoring games named Detroit, the number is 87.5% (63/72).
LS: (B) Rick Lovato hasn’t blown any snaps, but he also has yet to make tackle on a coverage unit.
P: ( A) Arryn Siposs only had to punt 7 times in the last three games, with 2 fair caught and 3 returned for 36 yards. That’s 12 yards per return on punts averaging 45.7 yards in this period.
K: ( C) Jake Elliott has been 10/10 on extra points and 4/4 on field goals. The kickoff are alarming however. IN these three games, he’s kicked off 18 times, 8 were touchbacks, but 8 were returned for 222 yards (27.7). This has gotten worse since last quarter.
PR/KR: (F) WR Jalen Reagor has also disappeared on Special Teams. WR Quez Watkins averages 21 yards per kickoff return. Which again means, he should just take the touchbacks!
KC: (D) 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 from last quarter needed to come down. And so it’s now up to 9.5 yards per return.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
The Offensive coaching staff seems to be getting it! We’re running the ball, so drives are more stable, the Defense now gets to rest, and we only punt half as much anymore. The mission was to get the coaching staff to stop being our biggest obstacle and that’s halfway what happened.
Defensively, the timid woodland creature who coaches our Defense, still gets skittish when he sees his shadow. He’s going to have to be replaced. Don’t tell me how smart and hardworking he is, when he keeps repeating the same stupid, lazy patterns.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Get to playing man-press. These weak zones have the Eagles allowing a completion percentage north of 75. If it continues, we will set the record for worst completion rate in NFL HISTORY.
Here’s a crazy truth: At 3 – 6, we’re still in the thick of the playoff race. While going 2 – 2 over the next 4 games would probably be good enough to keep those hopes alive, 3 – 1 would almost certainly do the trick