Still Shuffling

Posted: October 20th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

If the Eagles passing game struggles on Sunday, it won’t be Kamar Aiken’s fault.

With Destiny Vaeao gone and Haloti Ngata still hurting, the Eagles needed some help at DT. Hector is more about effort than talent, but DT is a position where that can work. Hector can give you some solid reps in a game.

Speaking of injuries…

Does Darren Sproles have the worst hamstring injury in history? Yikes. You wonder if the Eagles should just sit him until after the bye week. If he’s not healthy by then, do you just give him the Old Yeller treatment? Sproles has been a terrific player for a long time and I hate that his final season has gone like this. It would be great if he could get healthy and help the team with some big plays down the stretch.

The secondary is going to be without the #3 CB and the #3 safety. Clearly that’s not ideal. It will be interesting to see if Avonte Maddox focused on the slot and then Rasul Douglas plays some S. Or will the Eagles use Deiondre’ Hall or Tre Sullivan? If you’re going to have those guys on the roster, they should play at some point.

This is another situation where the bottom of the roster needs to step up and help the team.

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Jalen Mills tweaked his hamstring during the week, but Doug Pederson says Mills is ready to go. An injury to him would have really made things tough.

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A RB got traded and it didn’t involve the Eagles.

Hyde is a limited receiver. He’s not an explosive runner. He would have given the Eagles a big, physical runner that they are currently lacking, but you don’t trade picks for that. That’s a guy you sign cheap as a free agent (LeGarrette Blount).

Hyde is a better fit for the Jags and what they want to do on offense.

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Another sign of just how crazy offenses are this year. From PFT.

So far this NFL season, 94 games have been played. In three of those games, both teams scored 40 or more points.

From the 2014 season through the 2017 season, 1,024 games were played. Only twice did both teams score 40 or more points.

That should make you feel better about the Eagles defense, which hasn’t given up more than 27 points in a game.

On the flip side…that should make you feel worse about the offense, which hasn’t scored more than 34 points in a game. One of these weeks the offense is going to explode. Sunday would be fine with me.

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Back?

Posted: October 19th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles encouraged all of us with their performance in the win over the Giants. That looked like the offense we all expected to see. That looked like the defense that played so well last year.

Eagles players also felt pretty good about that performance.

https://twitter.com/JClarkNBCS/status/1050846026800750592

I will admit all of this makes me a bit nervous.

The Eagles were at their best last year when they were confident, aggressive and having fun. They played with an edge. They were fearless. Based on that, the comments would seem to be a good thing. And it could be.

At the same time, the 2017 team didn’t play an outright bad game until December. There were sloppy parts of games, but the Eagles were mostly outstanding. As Pederson likes to say, their execution fueled their emotion. That swagger came from playing like a bunch of bad asses.

Last week the Eagles beat the 1-5 Giants. They looked really good, but is that enough to make everyone legitimately feel this team is back?

I certainly hope so.

We really won’t know until we see this team play for a month. A game here…a game there. That isn’t going to tell us who this team is. We need to see this group play for several weeks to really know if the Eagles are back and the rest of the NFC should be worried.

I will say this. I think it is important for this team to be confident, to be aggressive. That is how they had success last year. While you don’t want the players being too cocky, this isn’t a humble group that is at their best playing a workmanlike style. When the Eagles play with an edge, it brings out the best in them.

It will be interesting to see how the Eagles play on Sunday. If they can get off to a fast start and get the emotion going, that would be a really good sign for the rest of the season. If the team is sloppy and falls behind, it will make you wonder if the Giants game was an anomaly.

Remember, for the emotion to mean something it has to be real. It has to come from good things happening on the field.

Execution fuels emotion.

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Miller was a dangerous runner at Ohio State. He could be valuable in helping the defense prepare to deal with Cam Newton.

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The last thing the Eagles need right now is another injured DB. Let’s hope Jalen Mills is good to go on Sunday.

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Another Good Sign

Posted: October 17th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

There are plenty of positives from the Giants game. The offense scored TDs in the Red Zone. The defense came up with a critical takeaway and played great RZ defense. Eli Manning got sacked four times. The Eagles got help from Special Teams.

I also thought the coaches had their best game of the year.

The offensive coaches had a short week, but came up with some nice play-calls. The plays weren’t just well-designed, they were called at the right times. A good gameplan is as much about timing as it is about X’s and O’s.

The Eagles did a great job last year of building gameplans and calling plays. It is fair to question how much the team has missed Frank Reich and John DeFilippo, but I think injuries and new faces have also played a big part in the slow start. The Giants game was very encouraging from a coaching perspective.

It wasn’t just the offensive staff.

Schwartz decided that OBJ wasn’t going to beat the Eagles. He dared Eli to make plays by forcing the ball to other receivers. That plan didn’t work great. The Eagles coverage was better than in other games. Also, the D-line got a lot of pressure. They played really well and made a difference.

The Eagles aren’t piling up sacks, but they are affecting the QB.

Now the coaches have a full week to get ready for the Panthers. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles attack on offense and defense.

Carolina is 15th in pass defense and run defense. There isn’t a glaring weakness or a great strength.

Schwartz will need a really good gameplan for how to deal with Cam Newton. In four games, Carson Wentz has thrown 158 passes. In five games, Newton has thrown 170 passes. Newton has run the ball 45 times, the same number as Jay Ajayi. Newton is the key to that offense in a way that most QBs just aren’t.

The Eagles are going to be in for quite a challenge, having to deal with Newton the passer and the runner. His QB rating is 93.2. This isn’t a runner who can throw the occasional deep ball. Newton can do it all and do it all at a high level.

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Doug Pederson was asked about the DT situation on Wednesday. He was coy about the status of Haloti Ngata for this week. Pederson said the Eagles have a plan. He, Schwartz and Chris Wilson had talked and made sure they had some options for Sunday.

I assume that means Ngata will either be ready to go or the team will promote Bruce Hector if needed.

I guess it is possible the Eagles could see about trading Chance Warmack for Aaron Donald, but I just don’t know if the Rams would do that. Can’t hurt to ask, I guess.

Maybe the Eagles have some surprising move at DT. Could Josh Sweat play some snaps on the inside? He played multiple snaps there in the 4th quarter of the win over the Giants. Sweat hasn’t proven to be an explosive edge rusher at the NFL level, but he is talented and physical.

Wow. That’s impressive.

Sweat has a ton of potential. I hope he’s able to show that when he gets the chance this season.

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Minor Moves

Posted: October 17th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles have yet to make a big move, but they made several small ones on Tuesday.

Who needs Patrick Peterson when you can have Dexter McDougle, right?

McDougle played for the Eagles in 2017. He can play outside or in the slot, making him valuable to a banged up secondary. The Eagles will be missing Sidney Jones for at least a week or two, possibly more. While he’s out, tough decisions have to be made.

Avonte Maddox is needed at FS to replace Rodney McLeod. He is also needed in the slot to replace Sidney Jones. Maddox is a good young player, but he can’t be in two spots at once so the Eagles have a decision to make.

They can play Maddox at FS in the base and then move him down to the slot in 3 and 4-receiver sets. Rasul Douglas could then slide into the FS spot in those looks.

The Eagles could put Douglas at LCB and move Jalen Mills to the slot, leaving Maddox to play only FS.

McDougle now gives the coaches another option. He could play in the slot, leaving Maddox to play FS and Douglas to be the top backup CB. McDougle was with the Lions this summer, but hasn’t played this year. He is at his best in the slot and does have experience in this scheme.

Could he really come in and play a key role this quickly? DB is one of the few spots where that would be possible, but it wouldn’t seem likely. I doubt we’ll hear much from the coaches on this. They don’t want to give the Panthers extra info. We’ll have to wait and see on Sunday.

If Corey Graham is able to play, that will certainly help. He can help in the slot and at FS. You need options when it comes to coming up with a coverage gameplan these days.

I put a lot of value in having Maddox at FS, but it will be interesting to see what exactly the coaches do.

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What’s going on at DT?

Cutting Vaeao really surprised me. He just had a sack in the last game. Obviously he’s banged up and the Eagles felt cutting him was the best option for now.

That leaves them with Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata and Treyvon Hester as the only DTs on the roster. The Eagles have played games with only three active DTs before so this isn’t unheard of. The Eagles also use Michael Bennett and Brandon Graham on the inside in some passing sets so that eats up a certain amount of DT snaps.

Ngata missed the last two games. He must be healthy or the Eagles would be adding another DT.

The Eagles can’t stick with three DTs. Bruce Hector is on the practice squad and has played in games this year. He could be brought up to the active roster.

We still don’t know when, or if, Tim Jernigan will be back. He’s eligible to return now, but clearly isn’t healthy if the Eagles aren’t activating him. The first step for him will be practicing and we’re not even there yet.

I would tell you the Eagles should go trade for a DT to add depth, but there aren’t likely to be a lot of good options. DTs aren’t easy to come by.

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As to the practice squad, Winston Craig has been part of the Eagles the past two years. He played his butt off this summer to really push for a roster spot. Craig isn’t the most talented guy, but he is a maximum-effort kind of guy. He’ll be good for practices.

I don’t know what the team likes about Bello, specifically. He’s got a good frame at 6-3, 229. He’s athletic. The Eagles have had LBs coming and going from the PS all season. I’m not sure what they are looking for. This could simply be a case of the team taking a look at different young LBs and hoping to find a player worth developing.

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Terrible, Awful Defense

Posted: October 16th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles defense has been awful this year. Right?

Wrong.

The Eagles are 5th in points allowed and 13th in yards allowed. The Eagles have played three teams in the Top 10 in the league in yards gained. Two of the teams are in the Top 10 in scoring.

Adam Thielen lit up the Eagles secondary. He happens to be the leading receiver in the league this season and has set an NFL record by having six consecutive 100-yard games to start the season.

I’ve written a few times already about how this is the Year of the Offense. We are seeing some amazing things done this year. We have to keep that in mind when judging the defense. I’m not excusing them for blowing the lead in the Titans game, but the defense hasn’t been nearly as bad as some would think.

The Eagles have the third best 3rd down defense in the league. They have the best Red Zone defense. What about big plays?

Sheil Kapadia had some good information on that angle.

In terms of explosive plays (runs of 10-plus yards and passes of 20-plus), the Eagles are allowing 5.5 per game. That might seem like a lot, but it’s actually the seventh fewest in the NFL. League average is 6.5 per game. And last year, the Eagles allowed 4.8 per game, fifth fewest. The lesson: Playing defense in 2018 is really hard.

Sheil’s piece has lots of good info and nuggets. He is always must-read material.

The bottom line is that the defense has been better than you think. They aren’t immune from criticism, but context and perspective tell a different story than the thoughts of angry fans after some painful losses.

The struggles of the offense have put extra pressure, and scrutiny, on the Eagles defense. If Wentz and company can get going, it will have a big impact on the whole team.

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Eagles coaches met with the media today. There were some good nuggets.

I know Wiz doesn’t like hearing that, but Seumalo has played better than him. This isn’t about making Wiz a goat for the offenses struggles. It was just a way to improve the OL.

It would be great for Peters to say healthy. Injuries have affected him this year. Having him bounce in and out of the lineup doesn’t help anyone.

I’m very happy with DeAndre Carter right now, but Sproles has earned the right to get another chance as the PR. It will be interesting to see if Carter is active. His primary value is on STs. Does Sproles mean Carter now becomes a spectator?

Interesting. They could use him.

Maddox made sense to me as an Eagles target before the draft. He’s their type of player. I’m glad he’s off to a good start. It will be interesting to see if he plays FS or Nickel this week. I thought he did good things at both spots last week.

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