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 games 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: 12 – 1, 1st in NFC East, 1st in the NFC
(W ) Indianapolis 4 – 8 – 1
(W ) Green Bay 5 – 8
(W ) Tennessee 7 – 6
(W ) New York giants 7 -5 – 1
Offensively, the Eagles have shown an ability to beat opponents either with the run game (363 yards vs Green Bay), or with the passing game (386 yards vs Tennessee). Regardless of what opponents try to stop, the Eagles have an answer for that. Defensively, any talk that the Eagles can’t stop the run, has disappeared to the point where it’s not even gossip anymore.
Now, all the media talk has turned to whether or not QB Jalen Hurts is the NFL’s MVP. Honestly, I doubt most of us care. Local talk wants to discuss playoff scenarios. And possible parade plans.
QB: A / Jalen Hurts is doing as much as can be asked of him this quarter. Run the ball in for the game winner? CHECK. Set a franchise rushing record? CHECK. Throw for nearly 400 yards and three scores vs no picks? CHECK. In fact, Hurts has been stellar both as a passer (84/123 – 68.2% – 940 – 8 – 0), and as a runner (47 – 332 – 7.0 – 3 – 1). That said his usage as a runner on called run plays, is far too high.
RB: A / Miles Sanders (61 – 358 – 5.8 – 5 – 0) had a career day vs Green Bay (143 rushing yards) and then had another vs the giants, en route to becoming the Eagles first 1,000 yard rusher since LeSean “Shady” McCoy in 2014. Sanders is a talented runner, a capable receiver, and has demonstrated solid command of pass protection reads as well as effective blocking. Someone is going to pay him this off-season, the only question is, who.
Kenneth Gainwell (12 – 54 – 4.5 – 1 – 0) has seen an uptick in passes (5 – 4 – 43 – 10.7 – 0). Specifically on checkdowns right in front of the vacated MLB area, resulting in some easy first downs. Boston Scott (18 – 81 – 4.5 – 1 – 0) seems to have gotten some of his juice back since becoming the primary KR. Still, we may want to get a look at Trey Sermon.
TE: C / Jack Stoll (6 – 6 – 68 – 11.3 – 0) needs to see more targets, if only to keep opposing defenses honest. He’s been dependable when we go to him. That’s not to suggest that he can fill the shoes left by Dallas Goedert (I.R.), but it seems like Stoll’s lack of production is strictly opportunity based. Grant Calcaterra (6 – 4 – 41 – 10.2 – 0) and Tyree Jackson, have been afterthoughts.
This position is graded low, but the problem seems more like a coaching issue, than a player issue. They can’t produce if they aren’t invited to the Offense, and Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen, is doing a terrible job of developing these three young players.
WR: B / A.J. Brown (29 – 21 – 295 – 14.0 – 1) has coughed up 2 fumbles this quarter. Otherwise, he’s been an absolute nightmare for defenses. (Especially his former team, the Titans.) Devonta Smith (34 – 20 – 294 – 14.7 – 2) doesn’t get the fanfare that Brown does. Instead he’s been quietly killing secondaries with precise routes that keep the chains moving.
Quez Watkins (18 – 14 – 122 – 8.7 – 2) has started the last three games, and been a key contributor in each one. His speed loosens the secondary and invites opponents settle for handing over intermediate completions, instead of long scoring strikes. Zach Pascal (4 – 4 – 30 – 7.5 – 0) only had 9 yards of YAC this quarter. That needs to rebound next quarter.
OT: B / LT Jordan Mailata has played every snap this quarter, drew three flags, added a fumble recovery, and dropped a FIRE Christmas album. RT Lane Johnson who’s been flagged three times this quarter, is also on that Christmas album. Solid play, but these two have been flagged and cost the team 25 yards this quarter. Gotta be better than that.
OG: C / More is needed from LG Landon Dickerson, in pass protection. Between he and G Issac Seumalo, there are still too many sacks given up by us week to week. The run blocking has been great. Andre Dillard has also logged some time at LG, when Dickerson left the Titans game with an injury.
C: B / Jason Kelce is also on the Christmas album. Three penalties for 21 yards this quarter plus a bad snap vs the Colts, is the bad news. The good news, is watching him get ahead of runners on touchdown runs. Cam Jurgens has had a few down on mop-up duty and he hasn’t stood out. Which is exactly what you want from a back-up lineman.
DE: A / Brandon Graham has never had a 10 sack season. Currently he has 8.5, but if he plays like he did this quarter (5.5 sacks, 1FF), he will eclipse that number in what could be his swan song as an Eagle. Josh Sweat has racked up 4 sacks in the last 4 games, giving Eagles the ability to reach from either edge.
Robert Quinn added no measurable production before being placed on I.R. after Week 12. Patrick Johnson is listed at LB. But plays almost exclusively at this position for depth.
DT: B / Fletcher Cox is no longer being overused, playing around just 30 snaps per game. He’s rejuvenated and has responded with 3 sacks in the last 3 games, plus 4 TFL (tackle for loss). Javon Hargrave had to cool off after the torrid pace he kept up last quarter. Jordan Davis returned from I.R. playing just 24 total snaps in two games.
Linval Joseph came over at the beginning of this quarter, to occupy blockers and others clean, but he’s even chipped in half a sack. Ndamukong Suh does more penetrating and blowing up blocking schemes. He also has half a sack. These two were brought in to help with run defense and boy have they! Playing here and on the End is Milton Williams, with 2 sacks and 4 TFL. Deep and disruptive group here.
OLB: C / Haason Reddick also lines up at DE, and has helped himself to 3.5 QB kills this quarter. Kyzir White hasn’t made any splash plays in months, opening the door for rookie Nakobe Dean who impressed during his 6 tackle performance in just 15 downs, during a Week 13 victory.
MLB: C / T.J. Edwards Hasn’t been the tackle machine that he was before we added DT’s Joseph and Suh, but he also hasn’t had to be that MLB. Now he’s back to showing up in coverage.
S: B / Marcus Epps helped win the Colts game with a timely FF. Seems to be lurking around the box a little more these days, but that’s likely him covering for injured players. Chauncey “CJGJ” Gardner-Johnson went on I.R. after Week 12.
Filling in admirably for CJGJ, was rookie Reed Blankenship. Until he got injured. Snagging an interception and a handful of key stops, Blankenship has just about guaranteed himself a 2023 roster spot. K’Von Wallace filled in for Blankenship, and got a few tackles.
CB: A / Teams just aren’t testing Darius “Big Play” Slay much. He got fingers on 3 passes, but he doesn’t see much traffic. The exact same things can be said for James Bradberry. Teams seemed to have learned their lesson.
Josiah Scott intercepted a ball deflected by Slay during Week 12. Avonte Maddox returned from I.R. on Week 14. Zech McPhearson and Josh Jobe haven’t really played much.
LS: A/ Rick Lovato hasn’t had any screw-ups snapping and even snagged himself another tackle.
P: D/ Not been a great quarter for Arryn Siposs. Two games with punt averages of 35 yards or lower, and being injured on block. Now he’s on I.R.
K: A/ Jake Elliott was 17/18 on extra points, 5/5 on Field Goals, and even threw in a 35 yard punt, after an injury to Siposs.
PR/KR: WR Britain Covey exclusively handles punt returns this quarter, and it’s working like crazy! His returns (11 – 147 – 13.3 – 0) are a far cry from where he was last quarter. Handling kick-offs, has been RB Boston Scott (9 – 245 – 27.2 – 0). He’s had a few nice returns, but he has no chance of scoring without some extraordinary blocking.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
The mission last quarter was to secure a playoff berth. DONE! We’re taking things a step at a time, and it’s allowing players to have a sense of urgency, and timeliness. Players have been dialed into the here and now. Just a couple more weeks like that, and we should be in a great spot.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Win the division, then secure a first round Bye.
Those can’t be done against Chicago just yet. However, the following week in Dallas, we could lock up the division, and the conference with just that win. No other help would be needed after that. Starters could sit for the last two games. (They shouldn’t.) Winning these next two games, ices it for us.