I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for the Four Things articles. It’s to point out what we need to address BEFORE the game. Then AFTER the game, there’s a no-bullshit assessment of whether or not the Eagles did any of what they needed to do, to ensure the win.
So how much of what I mentioned inFour Things: Seahawks did the Eagles get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Attack, attack, attack!: Yardage-wise, the Seahawks are the worst defense in the league, on their way to being the worst pass defense in NFL history. Unfortunately, it seems like the Eagles have forgotten how to do simple things. Something as simple as getting open and catching a ball. Something as simple as spotting a wide open man. Something as simple as both players knowing the play. (NOT DONE)
2) Run the damned ball:This game featured 51 passing plays (45 attempts, 6 sacks), and just 9 TOTAL handoffs, all game long. This game at no point, had gotten out of hand. There was no reason to abandon the run. (NOT DONE)
3) Go For Two: Get two turnovers was the mission. We didn’t sniff even one. (NOT DONE)
4) Do Better with Hidden Yardage: HA! We were penalized 9 times for -79 yards, and returned 2 of 3 punts for a total of 19 yards. So we weren’t exactly helping our struggling Offense with advantageous starting field position. (NOT DONE)
This week we hit0 of 4 marks. It’s hard to believe the Eagles can be this bad, without making a concerted effort at it. Honestly, I’m starting to believe this is being done deliberately. Next week we get just what every reeling team needs: A trip to Lambeau Field, in December! We beat the Packers at home last year, but that was in September. I sense a prison shower scene, in our near future.
On The Whole:
Let me start by saying, I told you so. Those rumors about QB Jalen Hurtsgetting extended playing time this week, were just that. Rumors. This was evinced by the standard THREE snaps (officially two), that Hurts logged in this game. I’ve been telling Eagles fans all season, that Wentz is your starter. Monday Night Football went as far to put up a graphic depicting why the Eagles are financially tied to Wentz until 2022. (Unless a trade is made.) That graphic, by the way, repeated what I said to you last week in ‘DOUG CAN’T BENCH CARSON‘.
Now to the game.
Aside from not being able to play football, our Offense is in great shape. We have blockers who can’t, receivers who don’t, and a coaching staff that seems hell-bent on getting the QB murdered.
For all this talk of Wentz not having to play “hero ball” and “not having to wear the cape, all the time” it damned sure looks like he does. Please point out to me the other player attempting to carry the Offense during the game, or shoulder the blame after a loss.
DO you see? Just like that, the Eagles are already getting better.
NOTE: I wanted to get this one in before we play the Browns today.
I wrote last week in EASILY FIXING THE EAGLES that the team’s issues stemmed from a culture without enough competition built into it. I also wrote a week prior to that, in HOW TO HELP CARSON WENTZ that he is at his best, with a hard-nosed running game, not a finesse one.
So what moves did the Eagles make?
Move The First: We signed RB Jordan Howardto the Practice Squad. For casual Eagles fans there’s a lot in that move that’s easy to miss. For someone like me, it’s all the subtle things that jump out at me. It’s all the “down the line” implications that I’m excited by. It likely won’t impact THIS game, but that’s beside the point.
Howard should have never been cut in the first place. Despite RB Miles Sanders’sobvious talent, he still could benefit from the presence of a veteran RB, to bounce things off of. RB Corey Clementfits the bill, but the Eagles spotty commitment to him, gives his voice less weight when talking to younger players.
With their treatment of Clement and cutting of Howard, the Eagles created a situation where there was no player to mentor Sanders. Thus, he’s still making small mental mistakes, that have huge impacts. Like on his blitz pick-ups, and pass route landmarks. Signing Howard, and letting Sanders see a vet do it, will help with that.
Move El Dos: Elevating RB Elijah Holyfieldfrom the Practice Squad to the Active Roster. The advertisement on Holyfield is that he will be a tough, between the Tackles runner. The film on him says different. It says that once he gets past the line of scrimmage, there’s been too much East-West running in his very short football history. At least for my taste.
That being said, he was young and playing in Carolina. The Panthers had a playbook developed for a WR small RB trying to prove a point. So coming here, may help fix some bad habits that Holyfield may have picked up there.
Those two moves by themselves are solid personnel moves. Add a veteran mentor, who has a skill that you clearly lack. Then elevate a guy from the Practice Squad, so you can get enough tape to evaluate him at season’s end, to determine pressing Draft needs. Solid GM-ing.
Now for the parts that are easy to miss.
Last week the giants made forcing-feeding us the run, look like Bluto force-feeding spinach to Popeye.
But how was the Eagles Defense supposed to practice stopping that kind of downhill run game, without selling out to stop it? Practicing against which RB? Sanders? Clement? RB Boston Scott? Holyfield was on the PS, but he isn’t the downhill runner that Howard has proven to be.
There is a role for a short yardage/back-up RB on this team. The elevation of Holyfield and signing of Howard (who mostly still knows the playbook), is a competitive situation. Two players making Practice Squad money, who want real contracts. Real careers. Suddenly the Eagles are going to be practicing better.Do you see?
For a RB to impress in practice, he has to embarrass defensive players. If a defensive player is embarrassed too often, he may lose starts. That means our LB’s and Safeties are officially on notice. If they don’t get it now, they will the first time one of them gets run over by a teammate. Do you see?
I wrote just four days ago that THIS was the way to fix the team, and it is already underway! I doubted that the Eagles could/would do it during the season. Yet here are two subtle moves, that will spur culture change in the team’s practice habits. On both sides of the ball! Practice habits are work habits. They become game habits.
WE’RE not a good team right now. To not even be .500 this deep into the season, is a solid indicator that we probably aren’t getting home-field throughout. Understand, the Eagles are a bad team in 2020, but they are not a bad organization. So fixing this will be a lot easier than you might think. In fact, I wrote about that, this February in THE 12.
Before I launch into it, let me hit the qualifiers, just to get them out of the way:
YES, we are still at the head of the division.
YES, it’s likely that with an infusion of talented veterans, this team will improve at least a little.
YES, if this team hits the postseason, it’s possible that we could get hot.
So, by no means am I throwing in the towel. I plan to be here, loud and obnoxious, every damned week with a smile. Truth is, I’ll take a bad Eagles season over no season at all. It sure beats having to endure yet another loss of something we all enjoy. Even in a bad season, I’m glad I get to root for my Eagles.
So how can I say that this will be easy to fix? First let’s identify the problem. Remember going into this season, we saw a silver lining to our constant injury situation. That silver lining was how much experience our deep bench, and Practice Squad were getting. Lots of experience up and own the roster. In small doses, that IS a great thing.
The issue is how often those players get extended snaps, and even starts. That’s what been necessary for the Eagles. On no other team would CB Avonte Maddox be a starter. Or LB’s Alex Singleton or Duke Riley. Or G’s Sua Opetaand Nate Herbig. Or T’s Jack Driscoll and Matt Pryor. That’s not to say that all of those players are trash, but none of them was penciled in start here, prior to an injury.
You wouldn’t permanently hold a metal bolt with a plastic nut. You wouldn’t long-term drive your car on a doughnut.
Yet this is what the Eagles have had to do for years now. While mixing high quality with lesser quality may buy you a little time, done over a long period, things break down much faster than if you’d mixed good with good.
People don’t compare this 2020 Eagles team against 2019’s or 2018’s. People keep comparing this Eagles team against the 2017 edition. Especially QB Carson Wentz. Given the amount of erosion that has occurred all over this team, the O-Line, RB’s, coaching staff, that’s hardly fair. It also explains what you’re seeing out there.
Now let’s start talking how to fix this. You’ve heard that iron sharpens iron. Imagine if you’re WR Jalen Reagor trying to nail down a starting spot in Training Camp, and your competition is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Remember how Ron Jaworski said that Reagor isn’t a disciplined route runner? Didn’t TE Dallas Clark seem to play better, when he was trying to get snaps from TEZach Ertz?
The solution is simple. Establish a primary back-up, and play favorites. Don’t split snaps evenly behind the starters. Nix heavy rotation at CB, LB, WR. Starve them for snaps.Make the back-ups fight for snaps.
Again, I said all this back in February, in the article ‘STARVE THE KIDS’ . Understand, there is little chance that this can be successfully implemented during the 2020 season. And that’s fine. A bad year fits the Eagles salary cap plans better, anyway.
For example, if WR’s DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery utterly ball-out during the playoffs; or LT Jason Peters makes a few blocks that get him on Sports Center, fans will revolt when they get cut. Especially if we get hot and win the Super Bowl. So this year being a train-wreck is right on schedule.
If Head Coach Doug Pederson wants to see more passion from this team. If he wants to see more of a sense of urgency. If he wants a greater sense of focus. Then he needs to breed a sense of competition, and foster an atmosphere of hunger that drives his roster. That said, Starving The Kids is an easy fix to improve the quality of the 2021 roster. Not just that, but it can be done for free.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for the Four Things articles. It’s to point out what we need to address BEFORE the game. Then AFTER the game, there’s a no-bullshit assessment of whether or not the Eagles did any of what they needed to do, to ensure the win.
So how much of what I mentioned in Four Things: giants did the Eagles get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Hand the ball off 20+ times: Despite our RB’s combining for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns, with an 8.0 per carry average, we only handed it off 19 times as compared to 37 pass attempts. I can’t put this any plainer than these numbers do. (NOT DONE)
2) Play gap control defense:The defensive line though frequently out-muscled at the point of attack, did a decent job of staying in the their lanes. The problem was when anybody besides LB T.J. Edwards came down to fill. Our LB play today was atrocious. The giants first goal line TD was an absolute microcosm of what is wrong here. The giants RB jumped over the pile, while NO Eagles LB ever left the ground to meet him. That lack of anticipation is why our LB’s are generally just Special Teams refugees who get more defensive snaps than their talent or dedication could ever warrant. (NOT DONE)
3) Spread them out: We did this intermittently, and it allowed all sorts of running room for. What we didn’t do, was push the ball down the field. It seemed more like the coaching staff was trying to work next year’s receiving corp in, as opposed to winning today (DONE)
4) Mix up our coverages:What? No. The Eagles don’t know what that is. Incidentally in my 2020 Season Review: Second Quarter, I mentioned CB Nickell Robey-Coleman being trash, and how I was on the razor’s edge regarding CB Avonte Maddox. He is also trash. While I think both are hampered by this FUCKED UP defensive system, when either man goes to make a play, he’s consistently a day late and dollar short. (NOT DONE)
This week we notched 1 of 4 Four Things, getting us to 12 of 36 on the season. We are missing too many fundamentals to be an effective team.
Next week we get a 6 – 3 Cleveland team that just squeaked by the Texans today. Hey, remember back when could look at the schedule, see the Browns name, and write a “W” next to it, in ink? Ah the days of yore. When we had a President, not a low-rent dictator. Before a third of the nation was on fire, and eating in a restaurant was less risky than sky-diving. I fucking hate this year.
On The Whole:
Unlike Nell here, no one saved the Eagles from having a train run on them. I’m very aware of what that actually means, but based on what we saw today, it would be hard to convince me that that’s not what happened to our Defense vs the giants.
The giants ran for 151 yards on 36 totes today (4.1) for 3 scores, while only attempting 28 passes. They didn’t have to risk a turnover, because we couldn’t make them throw it enough.
Offensively, we looked bland. There was no aggression in the passing game to match the great job we were doing on the ground. That said, it felt largely like the coaching staff was trying to work in the youth, and jump-start the TE position.
There were three bad snaps from C Jason Kelce, and a bit where he and Wentz got their feet tangled during a snap. These things happen to all pivots, but 4 instances in one game?! Sometimes it’s not meant to be your day, and this more than anything else, seems like it was the case for the Birds.
KEEP the streak alive! The Eagles will be looking to start the second half of the year, like they should have started the first: By putting down a division rival. This is no time to play down to our opponent. Instead, we have to get back to the competent play-calling that made execution and game-flow, seem almost Zen-like.
A win here puts the Eagles at 4 – 4 – 1 (.500), while driving the giants down to 2 – 8. A loss, still has us leading the division, but it lifts everyone behind us. While this isn’t a “must win” game, winning this week would the division lead on a high shelf, in a division full of short arms and legs.
The point of Four Things isn’t to predict a winner, it’s to discuss which tactics will practically guarantee our Eagles this win. CAUTION: I don’t have the faintest clue as to what a point spread is, and I know even less about how it works. I know football and that’s IT. If you use FT as a gambling tool, you are trying to lose your money.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the giants :
1) Hand the ball off 20+ times: The only game where I called for 20+ handoffs and we lost, was the Rams game. The other 4 times: 3 wins, 1 tie. To sweeten the pot, we get RB Miles Sanders back this week. To give ourselves the best chance to win, we need to run the ball both early and often. EARLY! And OFTEN!
2) Play gap control defense: The giants seem to have found a runner that they feel good about, in addition to having a QB with some mobility. Take that away early. Force early 3rd and longs, then bring a 5th rusher like MLB T.J. Edwards from their offense’s strong-side. Not from the edge, but between DE Brandon Graham and DT Fletcher Cox. Let their QB see the rush. Speed up the clock in his head, while taking away his favorite scrambling side. Force him to his left. From there he will find ways, maybe even invent ways, to get our Defense the ball.
3) Spread them out: In the last match-up, our Spread formations kept the giants out of their base defense, robbing them of any real pass rush. Do this again, and run the ball down their throats. Getting back WR Alshon Jeffery this week should make this part so easy.
4) Mix up our coverages: In the first meeting, the giants scored a redzone TD by preying on the way Eagles DB’s switch off coverages. It was a film study TD, and I tip my cap to the giants for the excellent prep. Kudos. This time we need to feed them a few looks with similar keys, so that we can bait them into throwing balls into places where they shouldn’t be. It’d be nice to see CB Darius Slay finally get himself a souvenir from this season.
If we do these Four Things, the final score should be:
PREDICTION: EAGLES 30 – giants 14
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.
JUST THROW IT AWAY! Why does he keep holding the ball so long?! He’s trying to do too much!
These are the things we keep hearing this season, about QB Carson Wentz. Many people are saying that he’s regressing. If that’s the case then the entire Offense has regressed as well. And not because of Wentz.
When Wentz doesn’t throw the ball away after 4 seconds, that’s a decision. It is a decision when he sees a receiver not uncover, and then continue to hold the ball, and wait for a window. He is making decisions that lead to sacks and turnovers. Let’s acknowledge that right at the top. So we don’t need to debate about it later.
Let me ask a couple questions here. Who repeatedly draws up a bunch of long-ass routes with no check-downs? Was that Wentz? How about those plays where our receiver routes end up in bunches, which attracts defenders, creating no windows? Does Wentz design those? When you see him hold the ball forever, notice how you never yell, “There’s a guy right there!” Why is that?
Carson Wentz, ladies and gents, is largely being fucked over by play design. That’s coaching. Head Coach Doug Pederson is falling victim to the same trap thatAndy Reid and TIK, fell victim to. The need to prove how clever they are. Thus, all these offensive coaches that Doug keeps adding to the staff, for “new ideas” and “new perspectives”.
Look, the Eagles won a Super Bowl behind a bruising run game, which opened up a mind-numbingly efficient intermediate passing game, lightly accented by a multifaceted deep game, which involved raw speed on one side, and receiver who’s open even when well covered, on the other. There was nothing “clever” about it.
Not at all.
We just took you to the woodshed.
Since then, we’ve lost Offensive CoordinatorFrank Reich, with whom Doug had an almost psychic bond. Then we got away from simple and brutal. Seriously. Three years ago 220 pound RB Corey Clementwas our small RB (after RB Darren Sproleswas injured.) This year Clement is our big back. Over the last couple of seasons we’ve devolved into a finesse running team, with underachieving TE’s, and a spotty deep passing game.
Literally everything around Wentz has taken a step back. The Offensive Line isn’t as good. The TE position is in serious transition. The run game is soft. At WR we have Travis Fulgham and our fingers crossed. Even the coaching has slid. Yet people have somehow expected Wentz to return to the MVP form of 2017. That only makes sense if you’re incapable of discerning context.
During that 2017 season, he had a high functioning team around him. This year (in case you hadn’t noticed), he’s carrying this team on his back.
I keep waiting for Doug to help him out schematically. The Eagles (and everyone else) use WR motion to get teams to declare man or zone before the snap. But what about getting to dictate where a defender goes, even after the snap? Imagine if every time the opposing defense read it right, you could make them wrong anyway?
It wouldn’t require a new playbook, or totally new philosophy. Just the incorporation of basic concepts like this:
That’s not even a whole play. However, what it does, is show a simple way to manipulate the Safety (X), while quickly getting the ball out of Wentz’s hand. No turnovers plus easy yardage. And again, that’s just a fragment of a play which could be worked in, in numerous places. There are many similar concepts out there.
It’d be nice to see Wentz get a look at a few of them.
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. 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 – 4 – 1 / 1st place in the NFC East/ 23.3 points scored per game vs. 25.6 points allowed.
(L) Pittsburgh 7 – 0
(L) Baltimore 5 – 2
(W ) New York giants 1 – 6
(W ) Dallas 2 – 5
Injuries to key positions continued to rob this team of any ability to build any stability. Especially along the Offensive Line. The team has shown remarkable resiliency, battling back from double digit deficits in three straight games (PIT, BAL, NYG), respectively threatening a, almost completing a, and then pulling off a, comeback victory. This Eagles team is making the point that they will never surrender, and never retreat.
QB: (C)Carson Wentzended the first quarter with a mark of 4TD – 7INT. This quarter he’s flipped it to 8TD – 5INT. Not sexy, but clear progress. Beyond that, he’s infected his team with an “I didn’t hear no bell!” mentality. This is in spite of all the protection and weapons that he’s been missing. Jalen Hurts has played 17 snaps this quarter, but all as a gadget guy. So far there’s been no way to get him more than that without starting a media frenzy.
RB: (C)Miles Sandersrecorded back to back weeks with a 74 yard run. While 1 was a TD, the other ended up as a fumble (recovered by a teammate). In a 2 week span, he put up 198 rushing yards on 20 carries (9.9ypc). When he plays, he’s a threat. Boston Scott filled in for Sanders, catching the game winning TD in Week 7, and picking up 70 rushing yards Week 8. Both were wins. While the Eagles want him to be the nextDarren Sproles, Scott isn’t nearly as elusive, and lacks a second gear to the edge. He picks up what the line provides, but is merely functional. Corey Clement chipped in 31 yards on 7 rushes (4.4). He’s also seen a sharp up-tick in snaps these last two weeks.
TE: (D)Zach Ertz played the first two games of this quarter, before being put on IR. In those two games, he caught just 5 o f 16 balls for 39 yards. During this same quarter, Richard Rodgers has come alive. Posting 10 catches and 107 yards on just 12 targets, Rodgers even led the team in receptions (8) and yards (85) in the Eagles victory over the giants. The blocking has suffered somewhat. Dallas Goedert just got back from being on IR. Jason Croom paid us too short a visit from the Practice Squad and caught a touchdown in the process.
WR: (C)Travis Fulgham is the story of this quarter, with 27 catches on 41 targets for 378 yards (14.0ypc) and 3TD. Greg Ward has 2 scores on 14 grabs for 97 yards (7.9ypc). He either has to get better at running past the sticks, or picking up yards after the catch. So far John Hightower has 4 catches on 15 targets this quarter. While he has the speed to be a deep threat, his ball tracking skills have to improve if he’s going to have an NFL career. Fulgham is stepping up. It will be interesting to see if another player at this position will or can, step up to help spread coverages.
C: (A)Jason Kelce Has been the glue holding the interior of the line together. The result of his mentoring has the run game looking better. (When we use it.)
G: (D)Nate Herbig isn’t going to win a Mr. Universe contest, but he’s been consistent, and he teams well on combo blocks. He’s looked good enough recently, to bring up the question of Isaac Seumalo’s spot on the 2021 depth chart. Especially if Herbig keeps improving. The other spot has been manned over these last 4 games by a combination of Matt Pryor, Iosua Opeta, and Jamon Brown (back on PS). The result is, the Eagles look better running the ball than throwing it. (Except on 3rd and more than 2, or when trying to close out games.)
T: (C)Lane Johnson has tried to battle through an ankle injury, but it’s got him in and out of games, and looking like a shell of himself when he’s on the field. Jason Peters played in just one game this quarter, but it was our Week 8 win over Dallas. His issues facing speed, at times have him looking average. Not that average is a liability, but moving Peters inside would help the entire Offensive Line. Now that Jordan Mailatahas shown he can man the Left spot, we can afford to move Peters the instant that Johnson is good to go. Jack Driscoll is a rookie who largely looks like one. That’s not a knock. That’s flat reality.
DE: (B)Brandon Grahamis on pace to finish with double digit sacks for the first time in his career. More than that, he’s ramped up his play from last quarter to this. He’s always been solid vs the run, but recently he’s become an absolute liability to offensive game-plans. Derek Barnett and Josh Sweathave both cooled considerably during this quarter. Seems that Barnett plays better off the bench, and Sweat plays better when he starts. Genard Averysaw his effectiveness decrease as his snaps declined, and now is on IR. Vinny Curry played a big part in both of our last two wins, getting his hands on two killer fumble recoveries (one not recovered by him)
DT: (C)Fletcher Cox hasn’t put up many sacks numbers, but he’s still anchoring vs the run, despite seeing constant double teams. Malik Jacksonhad a strong first two games before being hurt Week 7, and trying to play through Week 8. More was expected from free agent additionJavon Hargrave. The idea was that he’d disrupt blocking scheme and occupy blockers. Put nicely, he could be doing more. Hassan Ridgeway was seeing decreasing downs before he was placed on IR.
OLB: (D) In a Week 7 win over the giants, Nate Gerrymade his first splash play of the year. Later in that game he would be injured. Aaand subsequently placed on IR. Duke Riley is simply incapable of imposing his will on an offense. The Eagles defense has been decidedly more feisty since Alex Singleton was named a starter in Week 6. His play has gotten increasingly more decisive, and he’s been willing to gamble on making the big play. Rookie Davion Taylor has played just 11 snaps this quarter. The knock on him is that he was still raw coming out of college. Not giving him more playing time, will ensure that he stays that way. If not for Singleton, this grade would be an F.
MLB: (B)T.J. Edwards played in just one game, but his sack/fumble sealed a prime-time victory over the Cowboys. For the other three games the Eagles have been going with a 2 LB alignment, so this position didn’t have a real representative for three games. Rookie Shaun Bradleyhas seen some defensive snaps in three of the four games this quarter, but hasn’t shown much playmaking ability. He has a willingness to hit, but his eyes have to get better in terms of diagnosing, so that he gets to the point of attack before it can be well established by the offense.
S: (D) Over this quarter, Jalen Mills has started wherever he’s been needed in the Secondary. As he is more of a tweener, his best position seems to be NB. Unfortunately, he didn’t see much action there and his play reflects it. Rodney McLeod has all at once, been asked to do too much and not enough. Too much Single-high Coverage, isn’t allowing our corners to gamble on creating turnovers. We have to be more proactive about creating turnovers and less reliant on just hoping they happen. Will Parks came off of IR and stepped into 2 starts in three games. He’s been solid at making tackles, but so far unremarkable. Marcus Epps so far just looks like a guy. For the second year in a row.
CB: (C)Darius Slayhas allowed a 76% completion rate over the last 4 games, as opposed to 66% over the first 4. In both quarters he’s averaged just 45 yards surrendered per game. So effectively, opponents lose half the field when he’s out there. That counts a great deal! Sadly, he doesn’t get a lot of surrounding support. Nickell Robey-Coleman makes the Defense stronger when he watches from the sideline. He’s a liability vs the run, and doesn’t make plays on the ball. Like Mills, Cre’von LeBlanc seems to be a better NB than edge player. His hustle and eyes are undeniable, but too often he seems a tick slow. Avonte Maddox has been a mixed bag since coming back from injury. In one game he’s targeted once, in another he’s targeted 10 times. In neither does he get a paw on the ball.
LS: (A)Rick Lovato hasn’t messed up a long snap, and has 4 tackles this quarter, vs just 1 in the last quarter. HE’S PLAYING LIKE A MAN POSSESSED!
P: (B)Cam Johnston is averaging 48.8 yards per boot, 10 of which have been returned for 78 yards. All of those numbers are down from last quarter, but all of those are still kick-ass numbers! It just puts in perspective how much ass Cam was stomping when the year began. Or it should. It should.
K: (D)Jake Elliottwas 5 for 5 on extra points, but 1 of 4 on FG, during this quarter. Right now the team is playing better in spite of him. In spite of.
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
We hit the realistic mark of 2 – 2. We separated ourselves from the bottom of the division. Unfortunately, continuous injury issues kept the Offensive Line and the Secondary from gelling.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Try to win four games. The giants, Browns, Seahawks and Packers are on the menu this quarter, and most people don’t give us a chance against three of those teams. It’s too early to break out the dog masks, and to start using phrases like “Must Win” and “Playoff Mentality”. It is time for this team to challenge itself and each other, to take their individual games to the next level.
The reality is, we haven’t been very good this year, but there is no law that states that we cannot or will not improve. We have a few players coming back from injury after the Bye. We also have the motivation that this, is the last run as Eagles for some of these players. Next season, some of these guys will be back-ups on new teams, with little impact in the outcome of games. This is the last chance some of them will ever have, to make their expectations, their hopes, into reality.
So damn the pundits. Bow down to no one, and try to win ALL FOUR of these games.
AS the November 3rd trade deadline fast approaches, word around the campfire has it that GM Howie Roseman will be aggressivein acquiring talent, not shedding it.
Understanding that this will likely be one or two small moves, instead of an NBA-style mega deal, here are two trades I’d like to see.
If only one move gets made, it should be bringing back RBJordan Howard.
The Eagles could use a veteran RB as an insurance policy behind RB Miles Sanders. The team could also use a between the Tackles thumper. Howard is both. Even better, he’s familiar with the scheme. He would be a triple-fold improvement over RB Boston Scott.
Currently Miami has made Howard a healthy scratch for three straight weeks, after giving him all of 18 carries in 4 games. (FYI: He had two games with 18+ carries for us, just last year.) My point is, Miami hasn’t exactly driven up his market price. He should be pretty cheap to pull, should the Eagles go a-courtin’.
Many fans would like to see a CB to pair with CB Darius Slay. Anybody like that, who’s worth having, likely won’t be on the trading block at this stage of the year.
What the Eagles could really use is an OLB who can cover. Not a DB/LB tweener, but an honest to god OLB. That means LB size, strength, and leg length. I like OLB Logan Wilson from Cincinnati.
Wilson is a rookie that they took with a third round pick, who looks like he has a nice future ahead of him. So why would the rebuilding Bengals want to part with talented youth? Because DE Derek Barnettis also young, talented and will immediately help them improve their pass rush.
Understand, we have cap hell coming up, and Barnett will be hard to sign. Makes more sense to get something for him, instead of just letting him walk out the door. DE Josh Sweatis ready for more playing time anyway.
This would be two immediate contributors, who won’t cost much to add. Hard to scoff at that.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for the Four Thingsarticles. It’s to point out what we need to address BEFORE the game. Then AFTER the game, there’s a no-bullshit assessment of whether or not the Eagles did any of what they needed to do, to ensure the win.
So how much of what I mentioned inFour Things: giants did the Eagles get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Hand it off 20 times: While the Eagles ran the ball 26 times, 7 were by Wentz. Aside from Wentz, the team amassed 19 actual handoffs, for 82 yards (4.3ypc). Mathematically, it looks more productive than it actually was. (NOT DONE)
2) Be sack religious: We got three sacks and generally had their QB under pressure for a good percentage of the night. The result was two turnovers from him, including the kill-shot fumble, forced by Graham in the fourth quarter. (DONE)
3) Spread them out!:We came out doing this, and then became less consistent with it, when we started with those bunch formations. The result was that we kept the giants base defense off the field, and were able to scrape together enough room to run the ball. (DONE)
4) No 50 yard field goal attempts:This was done, but technically no opportunity to attempt a 50 yarder, ever came up. However, with the way the K Jake Elliott is kicking, maybe we need to abandon kicking altogether this season. (Ugh!) Never mind. That’s just frustration talking. (DONE)
Heyyyyy! That’s a Four Things score of 3 out of 4 for the week! On the season we’re now 10 of 28. Now we get a Sunday where none of our players get hurt, for the first time since… Uhhhh… Um… Wait no, he broke his thumb peeling an egg this Easter. Okay, so it’s been a while! The point is, we get 10 days to rest up for our home match-up vs the Dallas Cowboys.
On The Whole:
For the last two weeks we’ve talked about how valiantly the Eagles have played, but always ended with: “BUT THEY STILL LOST.” This week we looked as good as a 90 year old hooker: “BUT WE STILL WON.” So take the damned win, Eagles fans. We may not see many of these in 2020.
I want to talk about how much good we did, in this game. The truth however, is that we barely squeaked by an awful team.
For the second week in a row, the Eagles gave up a long QB run. Again it was vs a look that featured no Safeties. The only way a guy like QB Daniel Jones can break an 80 yard run, is if a defensive coordinator schemes for it.
Then there was that film-study TD, where WR Sterling Shepard knew the Eagles DB’s (who weren’t pressing), would switch… This was a case of our Defense drawing up the opponent’s scoring play. A change is needed. I cannot express how badly it’s needed.
Boston Scott did catch the game-winning touchdown. Yes. Kudos. That said, his production at RB isn’t reliable. In 4 starts as an Eagle, his rushing totals (26, 59, 35 and 46) are the sort of numbers that require Wentz to carry the Offense. Something has to change.
NOTE: For the last two weeks, the fill-ins at Guard, (Jamon Brown and Sua Opeta, respectively) have had their lunch eaten by whomever lined up across from them. However, there may be a simple, and highly effective solution, waiting in the wings.
The local sports media is trying to jinn up a controversy about whether or not LTJason Peters can reclaim his starting role from LT Jordan Mailata, once Peters returns from injury. My suggestion would be to move Peters to that RG spot that he was initially supposed to occupy this season, and move OG Nate Herbig to LG.
GENERALLY when I talk football, it’s about my Eagles. I tend to keep mum about our rivals, unless we have a game coming up against one of them. Otherwise, I’ve reserved most talk about them for my Pre-Draft Preview,which drops each April. (Look for it).
In 2017 however, I decided to try something new, and give our fan base a running commentary of what the division is doing around us. This ensures that Eagles fans actually are the NFL’s best informed, and most knowledgeable fans. (Provided you visit this site often.) These updates will come out three times during the season: After Weeks 6, 11, and 17.
This is where things are today:
Football Team: 1 – 5, 4th place in the NFC East
Their opening week victory looks like the only one they’ll get this year. Since that game they’ve allowed 29.0 points per game on defense. On offense they decided to not only bench their starting QB Dwayne Haskins, but to demote him to their Practice Squad. The new starter, QB Kyle Allen, has so far done a pretty good impersonation of Haskins during games.
Part of their offensive woes stem from insisting that they can turn college WR Antonio Gibson, into a RB. He’s a big slot WR who was born to catch middle Screens, and hot reads off of blitzes. Any other coaching staff would have seen that. The Redsk- Oops! The Football Team, wastes possessions trying to force a square peg, into a cement covered sphincter.
On defense they made a big splash getting 8 sacks, against an injury decimated Eagles Offensive Line in Week 1. Since then, they have all of 8 sacks in 5 games. They do have 7 interceptions, half of which (4) belong to CB Kendall Fuller.
giants: 1 – 5 , 3rd place in the NFC East
The giants spent 4 weeks getting worse, then had an offensive explosion vs the Cowboys last Sunday. They continued to ride that wave of confidence to their first win of the season over the Football Team. That win officially enters them into the “Win The NFC East” raffle.
To add injury to insult, the team lost RB Saquon Barkley for the year, with a torn ACL in his right knee. That placed all the weight for carrying the offense on QB Daniel Jones. Jones has so far responded by leading the team in rushing, with 204 yards through 6 games (34.0 ypg). Throwing the ball he has 3 TD’s and 6 picks. So there’s that.
On defense they’re allowing a 70% completion rate, and 8 TD’s to 3 picks. They’re also good for 110 yards on the ground per game. On the up-side, Green Bay refugee LB’s Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell are leading the team with 2 and 3 sacks, as well as 5 and 6 tackles for losses, respectively. Martinez leads the team in tackles.
Dallas Cowboys: 2 – 4, 1st place in the NFC East
This team was 1 – 3 before losing QB Dak Prescott for the year, during a Week 5 win over the giants. The road ahead doesn’t appear any easier. Six games in and RB Ezekiel Elliott has yet to see 100 yards rushing in game. What’s more, he has 5 fumbles already this year. The offensive line is an injury ravaged mess.
Defensively they give up 36.3 points per game. Allowing at least 34 points in each of their last 5 games. They’ve surrendered 14 passing TD’s and have just 1 interception this season, with just 2 total takeaways. Their best defensive player (DE Aldon Smith) is a guy who spent the last 4 years out of football.
Worse than all of the statistical woes, this team doesn’t appear to be weathering the adversity well. The sideline body language, and lack of eye contact between players, is indicative of a powder keg.
Oh yeah, and there’s also the little matter of players throwing the coaching staff under the bus, after just 6 weeks. This is where Dallas needs their men of high character to step up and lead.
So that’s the state of our division rivals as our Eagles head into Week 7.