DOUG Pedersonis Eagles history now. That much we’re sure of. What we don’t know, is who will replace him. I’ll let you in on a secret: It almost doesn’t matter. We’re going to want the same things regardless. HAHAHA!!! Who am I kidding? This is Philadelphia. We’re going to DEMAND the same things regardless.
The first thing we’re going to demand, is a Defense that isn’t “bend but don’t break”. I’d personally like a style that defends every blade of grass, and fights you for every footstep. That said, I’m knowledgeable enough to know that the NFL will have a bitch-fit if we’re that good, that fast.
What I wouldn’t mind is a 4-3 system that uses the DT’s to penetrate and cleave, uses the DE’s to contain, and allows the LB’s to flow to the ball, or be used creatively. Instead of CB’s on 40 yard cushions, employ aggressive man coverage, backed up by split S’s.
If we play a team and an 8-man box is becomes necessary, THEN we go into a Single-high. But first we give our front seven a chance to show that they can handle business. Never assume failure. That’s the first step to winning anything. We won’t become dominant if we start from meekness.
The second thing we’re going to demand, is that our Offensive Line gets fixed. We can’t “fix” QB Carson Wentz if he’s getting beat to shit, all over again. RB Miles Sanderswill never see a 1,000 yard rushing season as an Eagle, behind spotty blocking. QB Jalen Hurts? Hell, he also took a lot of abuse when Wentz went out this year. To fix the Offense, start with fixing the O-Line.
The third thing, would be to (ahem) “fix” the QB. When Carson was at his best in 2017, we had a brutal, power based, run game. At Carson’s worst in 2020, we hardly ran the ball. Super Bowl formula or 4 – 11 – 1? Which formula works best for you? You want to fix Carson? Run the damned ball. You want him to stop playing superhero ball? Run the damned ball. You want to limit sacks, and be better on 2nd and 3rd downs (like in 2017)? Run. The. Motherdamnedfucking BALL!
The fourth thing we’ll demand, is to develop a WR. This inability to develop that position has to come to an end. It has to! The last WR we drafted and turned into a 1,000 receiver, was Jeremy Maclin. We drafted him in 2009, and it wasn’t until his last year here in 2014, that he had his first 1,000 yard season. He is in fact, the last Eagles wide receiver to reach 1,000 yards.
These are things we’re going to want regardless of who is calling the plays, or who is letting his coordinator call the plays. There are other things we’ll want: A big RB, a dangerous KR, a scary LB, a QB to finish 4 or more games without a grass or turf stain on his back… These would all be nice, but they’re not at the forefront of what the fans want.
We want someone to come in, recognize what’s broken, and fix that shit, FIRST. He can be clever about his scheme, or his system, or his philosophy later. Expect a brutally honest assessment of where the Eagles stand in my Pre-Draft Preview, coming this Spring.
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: 4 – 11 – 1, 4th in the NFC East
W New Orleans Saints 12 – 4
L Arizona Cardinals 8 – 8
L Dallas Cowboys 6 – 10
L Washington Uhhh… 7 – 9
Due to events in, and inside ofour Nation’s Capitol last week, I delayed putting this article out. I imagined that you’d be too preoccupied with the real world, to give much of a damn about a report like this. That is the ONLY reason that I was able to get on here and make some edits, after learning about the firing of Head Coach Doug Pederson today.
Initially I was going to put a positive spin on missing the playoffs, and getting such a high draft pick. I wasn’t going to bullshit you, just make sure that we didn’t overlook the opportunity that being in this position affords us.
Then the firing happened.
Pederson during his tenure here, has a 42 – 37 – 1 record.
He also has a Super Bowl win, chased by three years of injuries being the excuse for diminishing results. Put another way, taking out this last season (his worst), and the SB season (his best), Pederson is 25 – 23 (.520) as a head coach. For perspective, lets look at Andy Reid’ first 5 years here.
Take out Reid’s best and worst year and you still end up with a 34 – 14 (.708) head coach. So it’s not hard to see why instead of giving Pederson the increased control that he sought, Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie, would want to opt out of the partnership.
QB – (D): This quarter Jalen Hurtshas produced 8 TD’s and 5 turnovers. If you can get him outside the pocket and moving to his right, he’s dangerous. In any other instance, he becomes a liability. What’s worse, teams seem to have already figured this out. His season finale against Washington featured him running for 2 scores, but passing 7/20 (35%), 72 yards and a pick. Nate Sudfeld saw the field for a 18 snaps in Week 17, and he looked like a guy who’d seen no snaps until Week 17.
RB – (D): In the last four games of the season, Miles Sanders’ rushing yards have gone from 115, to 64, to 57, to 0. To be fair, he was benched for the last game (Tankgate). Still, it doesn’t look good that his production has declined steadily, since Cars… Never mind. Hey, how about Boston Scott? What can I say? He started Week 17, and now we’re picking 6th overall. Well alriiiiiiight!
WR – (D): During this 4 week stretch, DeSean Jacksongraced Eagles fans with an 81 yard curtain call against Dallas. On 5 targets, 4 catches, 100 yards and TD, Alshon Jeffery showed he can still do, what it is we brought him here to do in the first place. Both will be gone next season. On the other hand, none of the young guys has emerged as a future go-to guy. Jalen Reagor hasn’t seen a 50 yard day since Week 11. Greg Ward is averaging 7.9 yards per catch, and Travis Fulgham has been on a milk carton since the Week 9 Bye.
TE – (D): The Eagles have spent the season trying to sell us Dallas Goedert as a #1, but he lacks the explosiveness or dynamism for the role. He’s Robin, not Batman. He’s like a bigger, stronger Jay Novacek. Zack Ertz had a miserable final quarter, catching 10 of 23 targets (43%) for 126 yards. In fact, his season ends with him posting a 50% catch rate for the year, and seeing his targets drop from 135 in 2019, to 72 in 2020. (But we all know what that was about.) Still, his numbers won’t make it easy for him to find a team looking pay big money to a 30 year old who’s been nicked up lately.
OT – (C): Jordan Mailata has been receiving high praise these last few weeks at LT. Some are saying that he’s the future of the spot. (I guess folks have forgotten about Andre Dillard?) Matt Pryor is trash on the edge. He’s serviceable when moved inside, but outside, pure garbage. Jack Driscollwasn’t great either, but he was a rookie, and we lost him for the year, so why sweat it?
G – (D): Isaac Seumalohas consistently lined up on the left for seven straight weeks. Hasn’t meant much, but during this quarter, he did finally play in his only win of the season. That’s 1 win in 9 starts this year. I’m just gonna leave that right there. Nate Herbighas been serviceable on the right side. (He looked better on the left though.)
C – (B): Jason Kelce kept the line together as best he could.
DE – (B): Brandon Graham despite playing an increased percentage of the snaps in the last two games, still fell short of his goal of 10 sacks this season. He got one vs Dallas, but otherwise, he really seemed to wear down as the season went on. Derek Barnett missed the last two games and didn’t impose himself in the last tow that he played. Josh Sweat had two sacks and FF vs New Orleans, was hurt early the next week, and then was injured for the final two games of the quarter. Vinny Curry started the final two games and had his strongest quarter of the season. This position did a decent job of bringing pressure, but with lax coverage behind them, they couldn’t translate into sacks and three and outs. Genard Avery played in the last three games as a rotation player, but the Eagles still don’t have a plan for him.
DT – (B): Fletcher Cox was Fletcher Cox, until a stinger vs Dallas shut his season down. Javon Hargrave stepped up in Cox’s absence and seemed to be a lot more disruptive than in the prior three quarters. He seemed more comfortable. I hope to see he and Cox return in 2021. Malik Jackson put up 12 tackles and a sack, during this quarter. That’s despite only starting one of the games. Undrafted rookie Raequan Williams made his presence felt, in very limited action. T.Y. McGill got a lot of snaps in the last two weeks, but will probably be best remembered for jumping offsides on 4th and 1, with 2:00 to go, vs Washington in a 20 – 14 loss. (But let’s put all the blame on the QB situation!)
OLB – (C): Alex Singleton recorded double digit tackles in three of four games, plus a sack and a FR. He’s much improved at reading angles and getting off blocks. More than that, he brought energy to the defense. Duke Riley missed the last two games, but had an interception vs New Orleans.
ILB – (C): T.J. Edwards has been serviceable in the middle of this defense. He arrived here with the label “athletic limitations”. Being put into this system didn’t do him any favors, in terms of developing his strong-suit. If he has one. Which was not made evident this last quarter.
S – (D): Jalen Mills is a good soldier, but he’s not special as a player. This was once again put on display this quarter. He plays sound team concept ball, helps corral ball-carriers, swarms the football, yadda yadda. He just doesn’t affect the outcome of games. Marcus Eppsstarted three of these four games, and turned it into a team-leading (how sad) two interceptions. Rookie K’Von Wallace got two starts, but it was too soon, in the wrong situation, with no teachers. Rudy Ford was unimpressive. If not for Epps, this position wouldn’t qualify for a grade.
CB – (F): Darius Slayplayed in three of these four games and finally snagged a pick, vs Dallas of all teams. Nickell Robey-Coleman continued to be a non-factor vs the pass. Michael Jacquetplayed in two of the four games and was utterly victimized vs Dallas. Grayland Arnoldplayed a lot vs Dallas, and he got the Week 17 start.
LS – (A): Rick Lovato added one more tackle to his impressive resume.
P – (D): Cam Johnston saw two games this quarter where he averaged less than 40 yards per boot. His 16 punts for 664 yards put him at 41.5 per swing of the leg, and he even had one blocked for the first time this season. It’s hard to say whether his leg wore out or whether he was affected by the air getting denser as the weather grew cooler. Either way, he was less effective.
K – (B): Jake Elliott was perfect on extra point kicks (when allowed to attempt them), and 2/3 on FG attempts. FOR THIS QUARTER! He had all of three tries, this quarter. I had no idea of that until I just looked it up! (Dear Doug, it’s decisions like this that get people FIRED! What, too soon?) Jake also stepped up and handled a couple of punts for us when injury struck at Arizona. That sort of
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
Entering the quarter with control of our own destiny, it largely felt like neither the Head Coach, General Manager, or Owner wanted to step up and declare a direction. As a result, the whole thing has been a rudderless mess. Did Lurie even want the Eagles to make the playoffs? Where does he stand on the tanking? What are his thoughts on Jalen Hurts? We have no clue about any of this.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Without a Head Coach, I have no idea what the vision for the future is. That means I can’t even try to forecast it. What I can do is take a moment to indulge my vanity, and write about what I HOPE the mission is for this offseason. Who do I hope is the next Head Coach?
Duce Staley becomes the Head Coach. Not just because he’s an Eagles lifer. Not just because he’s been patient as promotions to Offensive Coordinator have twice passed him by.
Duce should be the coach because Carson Wentz at his best, had a VERY strong run game behind him. Duce believes in running the ball. Duce’s approach can win us another Super Bowl.
Duce should be the coach because he has gotten productivity from every RB that has been brought in here. He has found a way to reach and develop players. This has been a sore spot for the Eagles for too long. Duce can fix that.
Duce should be the coach because he (like Doug when he got here), understands where he is. He understands the nature of the media that will attack him from Day One. He already gets how the fans demand so much in terms of effort, and that you will earn our hearts forever when you deliver.
And then there’s the Rooney Rule. Wouldn’t it be nice to ignore it? To not have needed it. To see critics go
Especially in this racial/political/social climate. ESPECIALLY for a guy who deserves it, and that it’s damned well overdue for?
I want the arrogance of saying to our rivals: That the Eagles were socially progressive only by happenstance. That we were doing what we wanted to do, and being forward thinking is a side effect of just being fucking better than you. I want that.
So I hope that Duce becomes our next Head Coach. That’s our Mission For This Quarter.
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.
1) Lose the damned game!: We did a great job of doing this. Luckily, the giants were counting on us to win, so they could get into the playoffs. So yeah. Yeah. Fuck those guys. (DONE)
2) Evaluate Kelce’s heir: This never happened. C Jason Kelce played the whole game. (NOT DONE)
3) No Razzle-Dazzle:The Eagles ran not one but two WR Option passes. Neither was a big play and both were almost disasters. Then there was that ugly, and incomplete Back-side WR Screen… Silly. Just plain silly. (NOT DONE)
4) The Pocket Hurts: Hurts pocket presence was even worse this week. Yardage notwithstanding, it seems to be getting easier and easier to shut down our passing game, as Hurts fundamentals as a passer, have deteriorated with every subsequent week. Do you know the last time QB Carson Wentz completed just 35% of his passes? The answer is never. Not even as a rookie. (NOT DONE)
On The Whole:
This whole narrative that the Eagles tanked, because Head Coach Doug Pederson pulled Hurts in the 4th quarter, for third string QB Nate Sudfeld, is ridiculous. True story, nothing in Suds history indicated that he’d look as bad as he did in this game. In fact, last night he threw his first career interception.
Meanwhile, Hurts had most of the game and was horrendous out there. In most cases fans would be SCREAMING to have a QB pulled for looking as bad as he did.
What people around the NFL don’t like about the loss, is that the Eagles profited so handsomely from it. We came into the game slotted 9th in the Draft. We left it slotted in the 6th spot. Normally moving up three slots in the first round of the NFL Draft will cost you your 1st and at least a 2nd rounder.
Instead, we moved up three slots in every round, all for the price of a game that was meaningless to us. And all we had to do was disappoint someone that we already hate (the giants). So we moved up essentially for free! And let’s be real. Isn’t hilarious to be able to talk about a QB controversy that involves Suds but not Wentz?
If tanking was such a bad thing, then where was all this league-wide clamor when the Jags decided to bench QB Gardner Minshew so that they could “Tank for Trevor!” Dead silent on that one right? Dear NFL. Eat my ass, you raging fucking hypocrites.
We had a shitty season, but we ended it like a boss.
I hear you asking, “What about all the stuff that stats don’t reveal?” Well, that’s the reason for theFour 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.
1) Keep running:Well, well, well. Would you look at that. This game featured 44 pass attempts, 11 QB runs, and just 18 plays where the ball was handed off. Seems the Eagles can’t win with that formula, regardless of who the QB is. (NOT DONE)
2) Contain our mirror image: The Eagles did a good job of keeping the Cardinal QB in the pocket, and he beat us from there. While Hurts was very athletic in this game, their QB beat us by actually playing QB. Still, what’s done is done. (DONE)
3) Pray for diarrhea: There was no food poisoning, so WR DeAndre Hopkins played. Pray harder next time! Get a sweat going! (NOT DONE)
4) Control the clock: We had the ball for 32 minutes, compared to the Cardinals 27. I said we needed a 36 to 24 minute split. We we were close to that mark, and we were close in the game. Horseshoes and hand grenades. (NOT DONE)
We did 1 out of 4, Four Things. Next week we get the division rival that everybody loves to hate: The Dallas Cowboys. A win will perpetuate Jalen Hurts’ legend with the fan base. But losing and having the season officially murdered? By the Cowboys?? On his watch!?! Nope. Losing is not an option next week. Can’t do it. Can’t, do it!
On The Whole:
Amid all the high fives and handjobs that the Eagles fan base is handing out for Christmas, is the fact that we are now dead last in the division. This comes after losing what Head Coach Doug Pederson called a “must win” game, which would have allowed the Eagles to make the playoffs just by winning the next two games.
We would have controlled our own fate.
So what did we see:
Well, the sacks are back. We gave up 6. Perhaps Hurts was holding the ball too long? Or, maybe his line missed blocks. Maybe we can stop blaming the guys trying not to get hit, for getting hit, when the people paid to protect them, let people hit them instead.
Having a QB willing to run RPO’s, will open up the run game! Miles Sanders averaged just 3.76 yards per carry (many publications round it up to 3.8), in this game. Interestingly enough, Sanders had 12 carries in the first half, and just 5 in the second. Perhaps what would really open up the run game, would be actually calling runs.
Remember how QB Carson Wentz was a bum for not completing 60% of his passes in most games? Well, for the third straight week Hurts has also failed to hit that mark. Those percentages, respectively, have been 41.6, 56.6, and 54.5. Maybe there is something inherently wrong with our system, that’s making it difficult for our QB’s to be more accurate.
WR Travis Fulgham is still on a milk carton. In fact, Hurts is having trouble pushing the ball down the field to WR’s, period. I hear you ask about Jalen Reagor (2 games, 12 targets, 7 catches, 95 yards, 13.5, 0TD) and WR Greg Ward (2 games, 10 targets, 6 catches, 35 yards, 5.8, 2 TD). Before the numbers become confusing, let me state this plain: That’s 5.9 yards per target, overall. Is this a glimpse of the Eagles future?
We lost a shootout to a team that isn’t anywhere near as good as their record. Anybody heartened by this, is looking at all the wrong indicators.
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: Saints did the Eagles get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) Lose the game: Didn’t happen. Now the Eagles exist in a third place limbo that neither helps their playoff chances, nor Draft position. Needing SERIOUS salary cap relief, this team will need a massive infusion of young contributors, if we’re not trying to make a habit of sitting behind New York and Washington. Both of which are respectively 2 and 1 year ahead of our rebuild effort. The win may have felt good to the fans, but a look at Owner Jeff Lurie’s face, as he sat in the press box with his team ahead in the fourth quarter, will plainly tell you this win was NOT in the plans. (NOT DONE)
2) Don’t bench Hurts: This was only for if he looked shaky out there, and he didn’t. Total freebie. (DONE)
3) Give up 35 points: Nope. The Defense played very well, thanks in part to the Saints starting a QB made of tofu. They insisted on playing into the strength of the Eagles Defense, even after 75% of our starting Secondary was hurt on one play! Our Secondary is trash on a good day, and their RB/TE/KR/FB/H-Back/QB was too dumb all day long, to audible into anything that could have hurt us. Any Eagles fan who sees this team part ways with DT Fletcher Cox, or DE Brandon Graham, will see it as a step back. Especially without the Draft capital to replace such players. (Now are you starting to see how all this fits together?) (NOT DONE)
4) Doug has to look clueless: Don’t look now, but Pederson has just out-coached Sean Payton, with a rookie QB. Calling a plethora of plays that we haven’t seen for 12 games (that 40 yard Slot Drag to WR Jalen Reagor was a poorly executed thing of beauty!), the Saints had no answers, as everything they studied this week had to do with a pocket-based offense. Next week the Cardinals will be trying to keep Hurts from immediately bootlegging right, but this week it took the Saints an entire half to even try to start a containment. (NOT DONE)
Put plainly, the team won the game, but it was a MASSIVE step back for the Front Office. We’ll see what shakes out next week at Arizona. And please don’t get too caught up in the “who starts at QB” thing. We’re 4 – 8 – 1. At this point, that’s window dressing. Look ahead to the BIG picture.
On The Whole:
Allow me to bring up a few points.
Fewer than 200 passing yards, less than a 60% completion rate, one touchdown and one turnover. But the fans are happy?
We didn’t give up a sack, largely because the QB was running from the pocket. Even before pressure. On practically every down. But the fans are happy?
Before you make the Michael Vick comparisons, remember what his hand looks like. Lamar Jackson? Kyler Murray? Cam Newton? Robert Griffin III? Randall Cunningham? All terrifying runners. Not one ring between sixty fingers.
Guys like Russell Wilson, Steve Young (HOF), John Elway (HOF), and Aaron Rodgers all use/used their mobility to buy time to make a throw. Not to outright sprint for sidelines. As a result…they have rings.
Jalen Hurts can run, but we have yet to see him play QB. This game featured him running to a side, and then operating on that side. So before you become enamored with that style of play, scroll back up and take a long look at the two lists I put up. The fans were happy with the win on Sunday. But by the time you read this, it will be Monday.
“If you get to that spot where you don’t start him or you bench him, I think you’re sending the wrong message to your football team that this season is over, and that’s a bad message,”
EAGLES Head Coach Doug Pederson said that when asked about benching QB Carson Wentzon Sunday November 22nd. Just 14 days later, he was benching Wentz for rookie QB Jalen Hurts.
If we’re taking Pederson at the words that he said, then the Eagles 2020 season is over. This deprioritizes winning, and makes it seem as if we’re tanking without outright saying that we are. Save Carson some wear and tear, put out the rookie, and dunt, dunt, dunt, dunt.
The problem is, Four Things is all about how to best go about pursuing the win. So how do we win when it no longer is the real mission?
Are we chasing a draft spot? Is the goal for Doug to prove that Wentz was holding him back? Is the goal make the fans so disgusted, that they’re okay with General Manager Howie Roseman, gutting the team?
Personally, I think it’s the last one. It totally would explain the Eagles drafting Hurts, instead of getting a CB (since the team had little confidence in CB Sidney Jones), or a DE (with DE Brandon Graham being old and pricey). What’s more, it explains why we’d Drafted WRJalen Reagorand not Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk or LB Kenneth Murray. It also explains why Hurts over S Jeremy Chinn.
If Doug was already starting out 2020 on a warm seat, then Roseman would be hella reluctant to draft a bunch of scheme specific studs, for a coaching staff which might be on its way out.
Reagor played all the WR spots in college. Hurts wasn’t going to be a starter in 2020. Neither man would be married to an identity, if the whole team needed to change. Perhap Aiyuk also had that flexibility, but all the other guys on the prior list, would have had to be untaught everything he knew about being an NFL player, before starting to reconstruct him. Reagor and Hurts are still lumps of clay.
SO! With “winning” this week being defined as disappointing YOU the fan, here are the Four Things that Howie needs this week:
1) Lose the game:A win keeps us in the hunt for the East, whereas a loss (coupled with a win by No Frills, or the giants) basically equates to a mercy killing for our season.
2) Don’t bench Hurts: No matter how bad he looks, benching Hurts would be DISASTROUS for this franchise. It would serve to de-legitimize the position from top to bottom. Right now, this can still be written off as a slump that Wentz needs a break from. Swapping QB’s in and out makes it look like there is no deep confidence in anybody. It would only be worse if Wentz comes in and saves the day.
3) Give up 35 points: Something needs to happen to justify getting rid of DE Brandon Graham, and DT’s Malik Jackson andFletcher Cox this offseason.
4) Doug has to look clueless:Remember the day that Doug outcoached Bill Belichik? Well Howie needs you to forget that he can do that. Forcing him to start a rookie vs a Sean Payton coached team, is the equivalent to blindfolding Doug, putting him in the ring with Mike Tyson, and then demanding a win.
Beating Sean Payton with a rookie, would suggest that Doug is a beast, and Wentz is the dead weight.
Roseman needs a loss. The worse the loss we suffer, the easier it will be for him to tear the team down to the studs.
The worst thing that could happen for everyone, is a concussion or anything else that means Hurts can’t finish the game. Wentz leading a comeback victory would be the absolute nightmare scenario for both Pederson and Roseman.
SHOULD the Eagles bench QB Carson Wentz? If you answered “Yes” to that question, you may be suffering from a severe case of Stupidity. Wait, no. That’s never how it actually works. Everyone else around you,may be suffering from your severe case of Stupidity.
Remember hating WR Nelson Agholor for years? Remember calling him a bum? Remember who didn’t? That would be me. Remember hating MLB Jordan “Cowboy Killer” Hicks for being injured all the time? Remember who didn’t? That would also be me. Remember hating CB Sidney Jones and CB Rasul Douglas? And again, guess who didn’t?
How are those players looking these days? Hey, to all of you who wanted us to keep QB Nick Folesover Wentz, how is Foles working out as a starter? What is he now, 2 – 8? 2 – 9? Just to rub salt in a wound, this February, I also said in THE 12 that we should have paid SS Malcolm Jenkins? Here’s the link.
Clearly, I don’t suffer from Stupidity. Instead, I have a condition known as “Guru”. It causes me to look “down the line”, and assess before I speak. Which means, you should listen to me.
Now some of you are saying that Wentz should ride pine, because he’s having a shitty season. And it’s true, on most levels, it truly is a spectacular shit-storm of a season. It is however, only one bad season. Feel free to take a minute and look back at his career to confirm that.
Now for some math. Because I know you LOVES the Maths!
In June of 2019, Wentz signed a 4 year extension worth 128M$, with 107M$ guaranteed, and 66M$ being fully guaranteed through 2021. The Eagles can get out of the deal after 2021, if they’re willing to eat 24M$ in dead money, in 2022. That’s because Wentz has no guaranteed salary after 2021. His remaining guaranteed money is all bonus money. He has another 63M$ in pre-arranged base salaries through 2024, but not a dime of those salaries are guaranteed.
My point is, Eagles team owner Jeff Lurie is on the hook to Wentz for another 60M$ even after this 2020 season ends. Lost revenue from the COVID affected 2020 season, is threatening to shrink the NFL salary cap from 198M in 2020, to (an estimated) 186M in 2021. So for at least the next two years, Wentz will represent 12 – 18% of the Eagles salary cap. Whether he’s on the roster or not.
To relate this to you: If you had a $1,000 budget, what service would you agree to spend $120 – $180 on, if you were no longer getting that service? Oh, and keep in mind, you’d also have to pay for a replacement service at the same time. This is what fans think Lurie should do.
So here’s the 60M$ question: Would Lurie pay Wentz 34M to sit and watch football in 2021, and then 24M while on someone else’s roster in 2022? No. Not on your life. So Wentz is your 2020 AND your 2021 starter. As well as your likely starter in 2022.
Take notice of how nervous Head Coach Doug Pederson appears. Also take notice of how agitated, but otherwise calm, Wentz appears. In this business, franchise QB’s are far harder to find than a decent head coach. Especially with a guy like Assistant Head Coach Duce Staleywaiting in the wings. (Oh, you hadn’t considered that, had you?)
QB Jalen Hurts was brought here to keep asses in the seats, if Wentz gets seriously injured. That’s it. If Wentz gives the Eagles a medical reason to opt out, there’s a very talented insurance policy already on the roster.
Aside from that, Wentz is your starter. Definitely through 2021, but possibly until his deal runs out in 2024, when he’ll only be 32, and still carry a very friendly cap-hit of 32M$.
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: BROWNS did the Eagles get around to doing? Well let’s see:
1) The limit is 150: We held the Browns to 137 yards rushing. So technically we hit the mark. However, our Defense wore down, and began to wilt under an attack that saw 34 handoffs in inclement conditions. Compared to just 22 pass attempts. The Browns coach did a masterful job of calling this game. Didn’t he Doug?(DONE)
2) Hand it off 20+ times: The Eagles handed the ball off 21 times this week. So technically we hit this mark too. Of course NINE of those attempts came on one drive. Specifically on the first possession. So, for the remainder of the game, we only handed it off 12 times. Or roughly 4 times per quarter. The rest of the game was put on an unprotected Carson Wentz’s shoulders. This is probably why Miles Sanders attempted to rip a handoff away from Wentz on a critical 3rd and 7. (DONE)
3) Return punts:The Browns punted 5 times.WR Greg Ward returned 2 punts for 8 yards, with his longest return being 10 yards. Do the math. The Offense is getting no support at all this season from Special Teams. Hidden Yardage used to be this team’s middle name. Now we can’t be bothered to try to earn any. (NOT DONE)
4) Go zero to sixty: For the first time in 6 weeks, Wentz completed 60 percent of his passes. Exactly 60 percent. I won’t knock it. He spent the day being beat to shit, the only people catching balls were TE’s, and his coach stopped dialing up runs, on a day that was a rainy mess. (DONE)
The underdogs put together 3 of the 4things, and made a game of it. Makes you wonder what ONE fewer turnover would have meant. (Or if the Brown’s QB fumbling wasn’t ruled as stopped forward progress.) In any case, next week we get a Seattle team that beat us 17 – 9, TWICE last year. We’ll be heavy underdogs in that one as well.
On The Whole:
Three takeaways from this game. (Get it?! Too soon?)
1) LB Alex Singleton wants a starting job next year. The guy was all over the place today, and did a much better job of getting off blocks than he did a week ago. It’s good to see evolution in at least one guy out there.
2) CB Avonte Maddox is trash. He doesn’t cover, can’t catch tipped balls, and won’t tackle. I don’t understand why the coaches keep starting him. CB has to be THE priority in this next Draft. One in the first, and a tall Nickel in the fourth, if we can swing it.
3) It’s time to move LTJason Petersto RG. The truth is, Peters will be excellent in the role, and will have people (who have short memories) wondering why we didn’t stick to this move earlier. Sadly, if a move to LG had come a couple years ago, moving him inside wouldn’t feel like a demotion.
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.
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.