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: 14 – 3, NFC East Winner, NFC #1 Seed
(W ) Chicago 3 – 14
(L ) Dallas 12 – 5 (5th seed)
(L ) New Orleans 7 – 10
(W ) New York giants 9 – 7 (6th seed)
When do our guys ever make it easy? Our Eagles made us sweat for it. Securing the top seed came all the way down to the last game of the year, due to two losses down the stretch. This was triggered by losing a flurry of key players to injury. In any case, instead of producing excuses, the Eagles produced the wins they needed. Our team didn’t choke when crunch time came around. They instead did what winners do. They reached down, and found the will to be the last one standing. Great practice. We’ll be needing it shortly.
QB: C / Jalen Hurts injured his throwing shoulder vs Chicago. He finished the game, but missed the next two. When he returned in the finale, he clearly wasn’t himself yet . Over the last quarter season, he’s thrown zero touchdowns vs three interceptions. He will exit the regular season with a 14 – 1 record as a starter this season.
Gardner Minshew (42/72 – 58.3% – 629 – 3 – 3) has been unfairly lambasted these last couple of weeks. He’s credited with 3 interceptions, but it’s a very misleading stat. While one was a fatal pick six vs the Saints, the two against the Cowboys were both, literally pulled out of the same receivers hands. In neither game did the coaching staff do much to support him with the run, yet he still managed 34 points against the Cowboys.
RB: D / Miles Sanders (55 – 201 – 3.6 – 0 – 2) has been used sparingly over these last four games, not just in terms of volume, but situationally. His touches in the red zone have all but disappeared. Kenneth Gainwell (22 – 57 – 2.5 – 0 – 0) and Boston Scott (11 – 60 – 5.4 – 1 – 0) have been underwhelming, save for Scott’s (9 – 54 – 6.0 – 1 – 0) game against the giants.
In full disclosure, over these last four games this position has suffered as much from coaching as anything else. No early touches to set a tone, or tire out opponents. Running a system set up for movement and a mobile QB, through a pocket passer with no threat of stressing a defense horizontally. My hope is that these games were red herrings regarding our tendencies.
TE: F / Dallas Goedert (16 – 12 – 158 – 13.1 – 0) came back from injury and has been working his way back into his role as the catalyst. Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra combined for a 6 yard catch, over the last four games, on just three targets.
WR: C / Devonta Smith (41 – 29 – 421 – 14.5 – 2) on almost any other team would be the guy teams game-planned to stop; but have you met A.J. Brown (43 – 23 – 476 – 20.6 – 1)? While he’s in no media conversation as the best receiver in football, he doesn’t seem to mind it. He just plays like he is. Keep in mind, the numbers you see here, are for just the LAST FOUR GAMES.
Quez Watkins (16 – 7 – 49 – 7.0 – 0) on the other hand, may have played his way out of Philadelphia. Turnovers have been an issue for him, and this quarter saw two balls ripped from his hands for interceptions, in the same game. And it was against DALLAS! Behind Brown and Smith, he has one of the cushiest Slot gigs in the sport, and hasn’t been able to capitalize on it, despite possessing elite speed, and having two coverage draws
Zach Pascal caught a ball for six yards vs the Cowboys, but is mostly a blocker and a decoy. The A.J. and Devonta Show has kept people from noticing that the rest of the Offense is faltering. Notice, only half of this position is producing. And did you do the math? This quarter: 60 catches, but just 3 TD’s. No more smoke and mirrors. This MUST BE addressed.
OT: C / LT Jordan Mialata once again didn’t miss a single snap out of 272 in the quarter. He was flagged just once for a hold, which was declined, in the win over the giants. RT Lane Johnson was Lane Johnson until he suffered a groin injury (torn adductor) vs Dallas. Filling in for him has been Jack Driscoll. He’s held his own, but speed rushes suggest that he could use chipping help, if we have to rely on him long term. Truthfully he’s a much better interior battler than edge guardian.
OG: C / Landon Dickerson has been hit for three penalties for 20 yards this quarter, including a couple of crushers while trailing the Saints by 10 points. Isaac Seumalo hasn’t missed a snap this quarter. He was flagged just once, but it was during a disastrous drive while trailing the Saints by 10. Our recent interior play would be good for most teams, but for this team, it’s below what’s expected based on what’s been previously delivered.
C: B / Jason Kelce hasn’t missed a single one of the 272 snaps during this quarter. He’s had a couple of questionable snaps, but his movement skills are still top tier, and his understanding of angles is honestly second to none in the game.
DE: B / Josh Sweat (10 – 3.5 – 1 – 0) was injured early in the loss vs the Saints, and missed the season finale. Still he managed to return an interception for a touchdown, and add enough sacks to push his total to 11 on the year. Brandon Graham (7 – 2.5 – 0 – 0) also brought his total to 11, posting double digit sacks for the first time in his career. His only start of the year was the season finale, in place of Sweat.
DT: A/ Fletcher Cox (6 – 1.0 – 0 – 0) finished the season strong, reintroducing himself to opposing passers. Javon Hargrave (14 – 3.0 – 0 – 0) ran his sack total up to 11, becoming one of four Eagles to post double digit sacks in one year. No other team has ever done that. This position is the engine of the Defense.
Milton Williams (9 – 1.0 – 0 – 0) also has 3 tackles for losses over the last three weeks, and plays the edge as well as the inside. Jordan Davis (4 – 0 – 0 – 0) has played in two games this quarter where he didn’t reach 10 snaps. He hasn’t played 20 snaps in a game since Week 6. So you have to wonder what the coaching staff has in mind for the first rounder, who’s been back from his leg injury since Week 13. We’ll have to keep an eye on this.
Linval Joseph (10 – 0 – 0 – 0) is block eater who has seen his snap percentage drop over the last quarter. There may not be much to it, but keep an eye on how much Davis gets to play going forward. Ndamukong Suh (4 – 0.5 – 0 – 0) has been plugging away inside, offering more disruption than Joseph.
OLB: C / Haason Reddick (14 – 6.0 – 0 – 2) and throw in 4 tackles for losses this quarter! The 16 sacks he racked up this year, is his career-high. Kyzir White (31 – 1.0 – 0 0 – 0) gets in on stops, but it would be nice if he didn’t let so much of the action be dictated to him. Too often he makes tackles and not plays.
Nakobe Dean (no stats) saw just three defensive snaps this quarter. Three. Patrick Johnson (5 – 0 – 0 – 0) plays on the line more than he stands up, but seems mostly like a place holder in either instance. Coaches may laud his understanding of his role, but those same coaches will take that role, if another player makes two plays in his stead.
MLB: B / T.J. Edwards (44 – 0 – 0 – 0) posted 159 tackles this year, shattering the Eagles all-time record of 137 set just last year, by current Bronco, Alex Singleton. Edwards role in the Defense has definitely become more passive.
S: D / Marcus Epps (24 – 0 – 0 – 0) has just two passes knocked down this quarter, and just 6 this season and no turnovers, despite playing 1,096 snaps. More is needed here. Reed Blankenship (20 – 0 – 0 – 0) started two games and missed one with an injury. K’von Wallace (11 – 0 – 0 – 0) started in the win at Chicago, and recorded 9 stops. Over the last three games he saw just 12 defensive snaps. Chauncey Gardner Johnson (7 – 0 – 0 – 0) came back from injury and started the finale.
CB: D /Darius “Did He Play?” Slay (12 – 0 – 0 – 0) hasn’t produced a big play, since his deflection in Green Bay last quarter. What’s worse, opposing teams no longer fear targeting him. He hasn’t gotten his hands on a pass since Week 6. It would help to see him assert himself soon. James Bradberry (15 – 0 – 0 – 0) is also seeing more challenges, having no picks since Week 9.
Avonte Maddox (9 – 1.0 – 0 – 2) missed the last two games with a toe injury, and it’s unclear whether he’ll play or practice again this season. Josiah Scott (7 – 0 – 1 – 0) has spent this quarter being plucked, roasted and sauced as the Nickle. The job is simply too big for him.
LS: A / Rick Lovato added a tackle to no bad snaps.
P: C / Brett Kern (10 – 408 – 40.8 – 36.6 – 0) was brought in because Arryn Siposs was put on IR. Not a lot of distance, or hang-time, or pin-pointing with his punts; but he’s an aging, late season addition. How much could he possibly have left? Over the last 4 games there have been 5 returns for 42 yards (8.4). Fine under the circumstances, but it suggests a slight out-kicking of the coverage.
K: A / Jake Elliott (9/10 FG, 8/8 XP) has been super reliable. Even from 50+.
PR/KR: D/ Boston Scott (6 – 161 – 26.8 – 0) on Kick-off duty and WR Britain Covey (4 – 44 – 11.0 – 0)
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
After Chicago, the Eagles hit some major injury snags. As a result, we had some trouble securing the win needed to salt away the division and the NFC’s #1 seed. It took until the last game of the season, but it DID get done. While many have questioned the play they see on the field, I’ve had more questions about some of the coaching decisions.
I question the lack of commitment to the run game, during a stretch where the back-up QB had to start. I question a steady diet of off-coverage. I question the sparse use of Miles Sanders, while not elevating RB Trey Sermon from the practice. I question fans who swallow non-answers about these questions.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
We posted a conference (and league), best record of 14 – 3, which earned us a first round bye in these 2022 – 2023 playoffs. We get to flash our VIP pass, and cruise right past the (peasants) Wild Card round, and hop in at the Divisional level. That puts us one win away from the National Conference Championship, and two wins away from the Super Bowl itself. Once there, everything is on the table. So the mission is simple: WIN. WIN. And then WIN.