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.)
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: 5 – 0, 1st in NFC East, only undefeated team in the NFL, 27.0 apf / 17.6 apa
W Detroit 1 – 4
W Minnesota 4 – 1
W Washington 1 – 4
W Jacksonville 2 – 3
W Arizona 2 – 3
We’re 5 – 0 with no strong showings during the run. The win at Minnesota was the closest, but our Offense stalled out and didn’t produce any points after half-time. That’s not strong. Same with the game against Washington. The win over Arizona saw us put up a field goal in third, and the game winning kick at the end of the fourth, but we needed them to miss one to cement our win.
We’ve scored 24, 17, 24, and 20 points in the second quarter, in each of our first four games. However, when teams make their adjustments at the half, Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen is doing an abysmal job of adapting. As a result the weight of the game is shifted squarely onto the Defense, instead of being a team effort.
This is unsustainable.
QB: C / Everyone is taken with the 5 – 0 start, but the reality is, that Jalen Hurts hasn’t put together a whole game, so far this season. There hasn’t been one where he didn’t hit a wall in the second half of a game. Some of that I put at the feet of the coaching staff (as I mentioned above), but some of it is Hurts. Last year after five games he’d thrown 7 TD’s, right now it’s 4. No big deal though, because he’s running for TD’s, right? Perhaps, but those yards aren’t free.
That may be why he physically seems to wear down in games. He’s a ball of energy in the first half of games, but is MUCH more demure later. Part of that may be the beating he’s taking. Five games into last year, his rushing stats were 43 – 256 – 5.9 – 3TD. That was 8.6 carries per game. This year it’s 68 – 266 – 3.9 – 6TD, for 13.6 carries per game. He’s on pace for 231 carries this year! He had 139 last year, when he led the team in rushing attempts. And he got hurt.
Maybe we need to start a mailing campaign, to tell our coaches that Hurts isn’t Harry Newman. If we use Hurts like a QB instead of a 1930’s Tailback, he might be all around sharper in the second half of games.
RB: C / Miles Sanders is 4th in the NFL in rushing yardage (87 – 414 – 4.7 – 3 – 0). He’s running harder this year, but he still doesn’t drive through his pads. Also, his receptions mostly seem to be behind the line of scrimmage and along the sideline. That’s no way to make him an effective receiver. He has just 41 yards on 10 catches, for an average of 4.1 yards per catch. He averages more running!
Kenneth Gainwell (18 – 72 – 4.0 – 2 – 0) and Boston Scott (10 – 29 – 2.9 – 1 – 0) have also disappointed catching the ball. This is another thing that I put it down to this coaching staff. Sanders and Scott used to be threats as receivers, but no Eagles RB has been that since last year. We recently added Trey Sermon, but he has just 2 carries right now.
TE: B / Dallas Goedert (29 – 24 – 335 – 13.9 – 1) is catching 82.8% of balls thrown to him, he’s running HARD after the catch, and contributing to the run game. The only knock is that many of his catches are coming on Screens. Running so many Screens has exposed the team to more ‘illegal blocker downfield’ penalties. More variation is needed.
Jack Stoll has only caught 1 pass, and that needs to be addressed. We need to make teams cover him, so they can’t double someone else. That said, in the three games he’s started, we’ve run for 210, 216, and 139 yards. Rookie Grant Calcaterra had a 40 yard grab a few weeks ago, but has been quiet since. If he’s our insurance policy for Goedert, we should include him more.
WR: B / Devonta “Skinny Batman” Smith (38 – 28 – 353 – 12. 6 – 1) has been up and down this quarter. One game with 169 yards, two with 80, two with under 20, and only averaging 10+ yards per catch in two of them. His production needs to be less erratic. A.J. “Swole Batman” Brown (45 – 28 – 436 – 15.5 – 1) except for last week, has been good for at least 5 catches, 69 yards and 13 yards per catch, every week. A young QB can hang his hat on that.
Quez “Fast Batman” Watkins (8 – 5 – 88 – 17.6 – 1) ripped off a 53 yard touchdown bomb in Week Two, and has scarcely seen a ball thrown his way since. He’s played over half the snaps this season, but again, he’s been targeted just 8 times. I don’t get it! Zach Pascal (7 – 6 – 39 – 6.5 – 0) has been a great pick-up for this team. Often lining up as an H-Back, he does a lot of the dirty work (blocking, decoy routes to pull LB’s, short routes to move the sticks).
OT: B / Lane Johnson is a monument to quiet, yet consistent dominance.
At RT he’s as good a pass protector as just about any LT in the league. Speaking of LT, Jordan Mailata was also dominating until his shoulder injury vs Jacksonville. Stepping in since then has been Jack Driscoll, who wouldn’t be playing if back-up Andre Dillard wasn’t on Injured Reserve. Still, third stringer Driscoll has played better than some starters in this league. No exaggeration.
OG: C / They’ve been money on 1 yard Sneak plays, but on other runs, they aren’t blowing people off the line like last year. Isaac Seumalo and Landon Dickerson have both had to come out of games and have Sua Opeta fill in them, during this first quarter. It does not bode well that there are durability issues at this position, this early in the season.
C: A / Jason Kelce has been a the tip of the spear on this line. His game against Jacksonville was a thing of sheer beauty. His toughness at Arizona was an example to the youth. Especially for Cam “Beef” Jurgens, the guy tasked with replacing him.
DE: C / Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat have cooled off a little, in the last couple of games. The pair combined for 5.5 sacks and 14 QB hits in the first three weeks, but have been blanked in those categories over the last two games. (Which helps explain the sharp rise in opponent scoring.) Back-ups Patrick Johnson and Tarron Jackson provide rest for the starters but not much else so far. This position needs to pick it back up, or this season is going to get real long, real fast.
DT: A / Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave have combined for 4 sacks, 2TFL, 9 QB hits, 1 FF, 3 FR over these first five games. Statistically, this position hasn’t recorded a sack in two weeks, but they are generally collapsing the pocket, and giving QB’s nowhere to step up when they throw.
The increased presence of rookie Jordan Davis has turned the middle of the Eagles defense into the Bermuda Triangle. Offensive players go in, but yards don’t come out. The Eagles got gashed for 181 rushing yards Week One, but since then, are giving up an average of just 86 per game. Milton Williams provides depth and versatility.
OLB: A / Hassan Reddick has come on strong over the last three games. With 3.5 sacks, 2TFL, 4 QB hits, 3FF and 2FR, he suddenly has given the Eagles that edge pass rusher, who can speed up a QB’s internal clock. Kyzir White hasn’t started any of the last three games, but he plays over 60% of the game primarily challenging underneath passing options, and cleaning up on run plays. Patrick Johnson is listed here, but mostly plays on the line as a situational rusher.
MLB: A / After the Draft, all the chatter was about how rookie Nakobe Dean would take the starting job here and change the face of the Defense. I kept saying “Not so fast.” Well to this point Dean has seen just three defensive snaps, all of which were in Week One. The reason for that? Mr. T.J. Edwards.
Here in his fourth year, Edwards is putting the NFL on notice. His 41 tackles leads the team by a wide margin. His career high in tackles for losses is 5 in a season. Through these five games he already has 4. His career high in sacks is 2 in a season. So far he has 2 in five games. His career high in QB hits is 4, established during these five games. And he’s always on the field.
S: B / FS Marcus Epps has so far played every snap of every game this year. SS Chauncey Gardener-Johnson has played every snap but two this season. Opponents haven’t been challenging the Eagles deep, much at all, as a combination of scheme, communication and talent have made QB’s think better of it. The only knock I have, is Epps leading with a shoulder, instead of his arms on too many tackle attempts.
CB: A / Darius Slay and James Bradberry have to be the best duo in the NFL right now. With 4 interceptions (2 each), and 9 passes defensed between them, there isn’t one side for passers to favor, as they avoid the other. Nowhere is safe! In Week Two, Slay essentially put WR Justin Jefferson in street clothes all night long.
While Bradberry has played all but two downs this season, Slay has been dealing with nagging injuries. Zech MacPhearson had to step in for an injured Slay, vs Jacksonville. They targeted him twice, completed neither and decided caution was the better part of valor. Avonte Maddox is the Nickel, but has been out since Week Three. Josiah Scott has been filling in for Maddox and looking like he needs more practice.
LS: A / Rick Lovato hasn’t had any issues.
P: B / Arryn Siposs is averaging 45.8 yards on his 20 punts. More importantly, only 8 have been returned for 38 yards (4.7 per) . So he’s not out-kicking his coverage.
K: A / Jake Elliott is 4/5 on field goals, and 13/14 on extra points. He was injured on a kick, but gutted out the rest of the game. The following week, Cameron Dicker was 2/2 on XP, and 2/2 on FG’s including the game winner over Arizona. Gutty. Seamless. Clutch.
PR/KR: D / Britain Covey has been sort of trash as a return man. I have no idea why he keeps running AT crowds with open field on either side. He’s had a couple of muffs and is just averaging 6.1 per punt return. I rooted had for this guy in the preseason.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
Jalen Hurts has improved as a passer. His timing, recognition, placement… All better. He now needs to be his best version for four quarters, not just two. While all the talk has been about how good Hurts would be with WR A.J. Brown, the real story was how the Defense was revamped and re-armed. It shows when the Ofense stalls out and the Defense is out there preserving wins.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
The Offense needs to carry it’s weight for four quarters. There is no reason why this team should have to participate in a shootout, to see 30 points. Hurts also has to throw more than just 4 damned touchdowns. Yes, he’s running for them, but if he wants QB money on that next contract, he needs to produce like a real QB. Otherwise we’re going to witness an ugly break-up when he accuses the Eagles of low-balling him.