Needing a Fix

Posted: November 19th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Can the Eagles be fixed?

Long term, absolutely. This year? I have no idea.

In the first nine games, the Eagles either won the game or lost a close contest. Doug Pederson pointed that out over and over.

“We’re close.”

And he was right.

On Sunday, the Eagles faced their toughest opponent of the year, a true Super Bowl contender. And it wasn’t close. It was a complete disaster. If there was any doubt about the Eagles being a mediocre team, that was gone by halftime of the loss to the Saints.

Could a humiliating loss like that be the real wake-up call this team apparently needed? Possible. You would have thought other losses would have done that, but it is possible that Pederson’s message about being close kept the Eagles in the wrong mindset.

Not anymore.

The players and coaches were part of the worst beating of the year. The Super Bowl contender beat the living crap out of the reigning Super Bowl champs. Who was your player of the game? Corey Clement for one good kickoff return? Josh Adams for scoring the team’s lone TD? There aren’t many options.

The Saints blocked better. Tackled better. Executed better. Coached better. And they rubbed the Eagles noses in it.

Good.

You want a beatdown like this to hurt, to be embarrassing. Eagles players didn’t want to talk to the media after the game. What could they say?

The hope is that a game like this hits home. You want the players to soak in all of the misery and use that as fuel to motivate them for the rest of the season.

Of course, all of the attitude and emotion in the world isn’t going to cover receivers. We need to hear about the Eagles injury situation. It is possible that the Eagles could have Chandon Sullivan and DeVante Bausby on the outside, with Cre’Von LeBlanc in the slot. And Corey Graham as the starting FS. Yikes. Odell Beckham might die of a heart attack just thinking about that matchup.

Jim Schwartz needs to hope Sidney Jones isn’t hurt that bad and that Jalen Mills is going to heal by Sunday. He needs some help.

Tim Jernigan says he will play this week and that would offer a boost to the DL. He won’t be a magic elixir, but he can make a difference, especially against the run.

As for the offense, that was an anomaly. I know they’ve been mediocre this year, but that was flat out bad. They had 3 INTs and just one TD. Carson Wentz had arguably the worst game of his career. The offense won’t play like that this Sunday.

Will they actually play well, the way we’ve expected all year? That’s a different question and I honestly don’t know. The coaches must figure out the reason for the slow starts. That has to change.

Getting Jason Kelce back will help. Stefen Wisniewski struggled when he took over at center. He missed a block on the most important play of the game. The Eagles were down 17-7, but had some momentum. It was third down at midfield. Wiz didn’t block his DT and that guy sacked Wentz. He pushed the Eagles back far enough they didn’t go for it on fourth down. Ugh.

Kelce will help, but he’s played most of the year and the offense has struggled with him on the field.

There isn’t a simple answer to the offense. People keep talking about Frank Reich. Yes, the Eagles miss him. But if you think adding him to this team puts them back as a Top 5 offense and means the Eagles are 7-3 right now, you’re dreaming. This performance goes a long way past coaching.

The players won’t be the only ones affected by that loss on Sunday. That got the coaches attention as well. Maybe it will cause Pederson to re-think some things.

Pederson had the magic touch in 2017, always knowing what button to push. He’s been at a loss this season. Time is running out for Pederson to figure out how to fix a broken situation.

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Beatdown on the Bayou

Posted: November 18th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

That was ugly. I mean ugly with a capital U.

48-7.

The Eagles were dominated in every way possible.

Some people have compared this to losses against Tampa and Detroit in 2015, a pair of really bad beatdowns. I don’t see this game like those at all. The Eagles got destroyed by rookie Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford in those debacles.

Today we saw future Hall of Famer Drew Brees just surgically cut the Eagles apart. The secondary came into the game banged up and things got worse, with Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas both going down. At the end, the CBs were Chandon Sullivan, Cre’Von LeBlanc and DeVante Bausby. That crew isn’t going to stop Brees.

We all either expected or feared the defense would be overhwelmed. We did not anticipate the Eagles offense playing so poorly.

The Eagles gained 196 yards and scored 7 points against a mediocre defense. Rookie Josh Adams might be the only offensive player who actually had a good game. He was 7-53 on the ground and 3-19 in the air. He scored the team’s only TD, on an impressive 28-yd run.

There are a lot more questions than answers when it comes to the Eagles offense right now. The blocking isn’t good enough. The skill players aren’t getting the job done. Carson Wentz had arguably the worst game of his career.

Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz will face a lot of questions. Their gameplans did not come close to working. Pederson also did a poor job of managing the game. He had multiple fourth downs on which he should have gone for it, but instead opted to punt. This wasn’t the game to be conservative. The Eagles defense had no answer for Brees and the Saints.

The Jimmy’s and Joe’s matter more than the X’s and O’s. Backup DBs against Brees isn’t going to work unless you can somehow turn the game into a shootout. Clearly, that didn’t happen.

Let’s talk injuries. Jason Kelce hurt his elbow early on and didn’t return. Avonte Maddox got hurt early and that might be a serious injury. Douglas looked to have hyperextended his knee. LS Rick Lovato will be tested for a concussion.

The Eagles are now 4-6. They are technically still alive in the NFC East race, but the primary concern now is trying to win a single game.

A season that started with so much excitement has gone horribly wrong. Instead of focusing on playoff seeds, the burning questions are about who should be fired or who should be cut. There is a lot of blame to go around for this mess. We’ll focus on that when the season winds down.

For now, hope this is rock bottom.

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Game Preview – PHI at NO

Posted: November 18th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Big game. Tough game.

I do think this is a winnable game.

The Eagles defense needs to make some key plays. The offense needs to score TDs. That hasn’t happened enough this year, but I think the reality of the situation is finally getting to the players. Chris Long told ESPN’s Diana Russini that he thinks the Eagles are a desperate team and this is a must-win game.

If anything good might have come out of Sunday night’s disaster, that might be the thing that finally woke the Eagles up. We’ll see.

I wrote my full game preview for PE.com.

*****

Getting Lane Johnson and Sidney Jones back will help. Looks like we’ll have to wait for Tim Jernigan.

Here is some good stuff from Mike Garafolo on the Eagles defense and a problem we haven’t talked about. Winning on first down.

https://twitter.com/gmfb/status/1064163175170433026

I’ll be watching that today.

Can Jim Schwartz come up with the right gameplan?

That’s not encouraging, but to be fair, those were Detroit defenses that weren’t that good.

The Eagles have had their issues this year, but no team has scored more than 27 points on them. Will that change today?

Carson Wentz and the offense have to do their part. Move the chains. Score points.

I think play-action and RPOs will be key today. The Saints love to play the run. They will bite on fakes. You must make them pay when they do that.

Turn these into big plays.

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Beating the Saints

Posted: November 17th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

The Saints are 8-1. This is a good team. They are not the ’85 Bears. Or even the 2017 Eagles.

They are 23rd in points and yards allowed. Three teams have scored 35 or more points against them. Teams can score on them.

But can the Eagles?

Carson Wentz was red hot in the second half of last week’s game. He’s posting strong numbers this year. There is no doubt in my mind that he can light up the Saints defense.

Doug Pederson needs to trust his start QB. Put the game in his hands. Don’t abandon the run, but make this game all about Wentz and his weapons. Throw the ball to Alshon Jeffery, Golden Tate, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Spread the ball around and move the chains.

The Eagles aren’t going to win this game with 17 or 20 points. New Orleans season low is 21 points. They scored 24 in another game. You must put up 28 or 31 to feel comfortable about your chances to beat them.

The Eagles have only scored more than 24 points once all season. It constantly feels like they are about to break out, but it hasn’t happened. Maybe this is the week. Getting Lane Johnson back at RT will certainly help. Big V was effective last week, but Johnson is a significantly better player. If you’re going to throw the ball and take some chances, you need your best blockers.

The coaches can draw up the plays.

They have the passing game weapons to deliver big plays.

They certainly have the QB.

It is time for this group to finally step up and have a big game. They must get in the end zone several times for the Eagles to have a chance to win.

*****

Good for Bausby.

The one downside is that this means Tim Jernigan probably won’t be activated for the game. The Eagles would have to cut someone else to make room for him.

The Eagles defense will get their biggest challenge of the year. The Saints average 36.7 points per game. Think about that for a second. If you hold them to 35 points, you’ve had a good day. That’s pretty nuts.

It is easy to wonder if Jim Schwartz and his defense have any chance to slow down the Saints. New Orleans will be missing their LT and that will hurt them. Terron Armstead has been dominant this year. He’s not easily replaced.

Here’s the ultimate damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The Saints are being blitzed almost as much as any team in the league. Obviously that’s not working. They keep moving the ball and scoring points.

But…

Brees destroys you when you don’t blitz.

There really is no schematic answer. You need to find some way to pressure him, whether with 4, 5 or 6 rushers. Or try just 3 and put everyone in coverage.

If Brees makes a mistake, the Eagles must take advantage of it. Errant passes must be picked off. If he fumbles, fall on it. Brees isn’t going to make many mistakes, but when he does, you must make him pay.

For the Eagles to win, they need some players to step up and have big games.

Who wants to be a hero?

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Checking in on the Young Guys

Posted: November 16th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The only upside to injuries is that they give you a chance, force you really, to take a look at backups and younger players. The Eagles have had to do a lot of that this year. Let’s check in on the young guys.

The coaches wanted to get Avonte Maddox on the field even when everyone was healthy. He began by playing STs and in a few defensive packages. Maddox was the team’s starting FS by Week 5. He’s played CB, nickel and FS. That’s a major challenge for any player, let alone a rookie.

Maddox has shown some really good traits. He tackles well. He’s aggressive. Maddox takes good angles to the ball, which shows a combination of brains and instincts. He can play in the box or back deep in centerfield. The Eagles found a good young player. The challenge is figuring out where to put him in the future.

Isaac Seumalo has played well at LG. He actually didn’t get the job due to injury, but rather Stefan Wisniewski flat-lining. Wiz played well in 2017, but didn’t build on that. If anything, he regressed. The coaches wanted to reward Seumalo and he’s outplayed Wiz. Seumalo isn’t some dominant young player, but he’s shown he can be a solid starter in the NFL.

Dallas Goedert is having a good rookie year. The Eagles might have brought him along slower, but Richard Rodgers injury made Goedert the primary backup and he’s done a good job in that role. Goedert is already a better blocker than Zach Ertz. Goedert has had a couple of drops, but mostly catches everything thrown his way. He has very good RAC skills. The only disappointment is that the coaches haven’t played him more.

Josh Adams was hurt for much of the spring and summer. No one was sure what to make of him. He showed enough ability for the Eagles to keep him around. With all the injuries at RB, Adams has gotten a chance to play. In the last two games, he is 16-108. That’s good. I wrote in my Dallas preview that if the Eagles could get a play blocked just right, Adams could have a big gainer due to his speed. The Eagles did block a play well and Adams went for 29 yards, the team’s longest run of the year.

Adams looks like a good role player to this point. Some people want to feed him the ball. I’d like to see him get more touches, but let’s not overrate him. The Corey Clement hype train already crashed and burned pretty badly this year.

Rasul Douglas was desperate to get on the field. He finally did play against Dallas. The results weren’t great, to put it mildly. He missed an easy tackle of a backup TE and gave up 10 extra yards. He missed a tackle of Zeke Elliott at the LOS and gave up 30 or so extra yards. Douglas went to the inside on a catch & run on 3rd/15. He let the receiver get out wide, get the first down and out of bounds. Those were all horrible mistakes. Basic football. Tackling. Positioning. You can’t do that three times in a close loss.

His coverage was up and down. Dak Prescott isn’t a good downfield passer so the one time a receiver got by Douglas and they should have had an easy TD, the pass was off-target. Like all DBs, Douglas celebrated as if it was his coverage that made the play. There were some plays when he did cover well. You can see his potential. You can also see why he’s on the bench. Too many mistakes.

Josh Sweat just isn’t playing much. You can see some raw talent, but the coaches need to play him a bit more.

Sidney Jones expects to play on Sunday. We don’t know if he’ll be in the slot or outside, but it will be great to have him back. Jones has had a solid year. He’s made some mistakes, but you can see his talent. He’s going to be a good starting CB in the future.

T.Y. McGill played his first game as a backup DT for the Eagles. I thought he looked good. He’s quick off the ball. He got pressure up the middle a couple of times. He was disruptive on some plays. McGill was in there for 16 snaps and made his presence felt. That was encouraging. Now go build on that.

Chandon Sullivan and Tre Sullivan each played against Dallas. Neither stood out. Tre had the one bad moment where Zeke jumped over him, but that’s more about Elliott being a freak than anything Tre did wrong.

Cameron Johnston continues to lead the league in punting, at 49.6 yards per punt. He’s having a strong season.

*****

I’m happy to see this. You don’t want the guys to give up and walk around. Show some energy and emotion.

And let that carry over to the field on Sunday.

Please…

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