Progress Matters

Posted: October 12th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles have been plagued by mistakes this year. The team has committed way too many penalties. Five or six touchdowns have been wiped out by penalties. There have been blown coverages and missed assignments. Sunday was another sloppy performance, but there was progress. And that matters.

The Eagles were able to cut down on the mistakes and win the game. The Eagles committed fewer penalties (6 vs 9) and had fewer penalty yards (60 vs 69). That’s a step in the right direction.

It was the Eagles making crucial plays. They blocked the punt late in the game. They came up with 3 interceptions. They converted the third down so they could run out the clock.

The Eagles were be the better second half team. That wasn’t the case the previous three weeks, which were all losses. The Eagles closed this game out, on offense, defense and special teams.

There is still a lot of work to be done. There are plenty of issues to address from Sunday. Greg Ward had a dumb penalty wipe out a TD pass. That simply cannot happen. Miles Sanders ran out of bounds late in the game. Twice!!! I would have pulled him off the field after the first time. That’s Football 101. Unbelievable. The offense has a ton of issues to work out, with a lot of those being on the coaches.

The coaches will address those issues. They know the team has to play better. Everyone is happy about the win, but not the mistakes that made it tougher than it should have been.

Still, it is critical that the team got a taste of success. Think about people who go on a diet. They get on the scale every day. They are frustrated until they see five pounds go away. Or 10. They want to see progress.

The Eagles coaches have been preaching certain messages since the start of OTAs. After Sunday, they can show some progress.

Jonathan Gannon has talked about the need for takeaways. He wants his defense finding a way to get the ball. On Sunday, Eagles CBs had 3 picks and they were a crucial part of the win. Last year Eagles CBs had 2 interceptions all year long. It helps that Sam Darnold threw some bad passes, but the CBs still needed to get to the ball and finish the play. Think about how often DBs drop passes that get to them. Darius Slay and Steve Nelson made good plays.

All teams preach the importance of the four-minute offense. That is when the offense gets the ball late in the game and wants to work on the clock. They want to be able to grind out first downs. Time is more important than points.

The Eagles got the ball with 1:57 left on Sunday. Carolina still had all three timeouts so the game wasn’t over. The Eagles ran for a pair of first downs and then were able to go into the victory formation. The O-line did a terrific job of blocking and the runners moved the sticks. That’s winning football.

Special teams coaches love to talk about the importance of the kicking game. They can make plays that change a game, especially a close game. Jake Elliott nailed a 58-yard FG late in the half on Sunday. Getting those points late in the half gave the Eagles a feeling of momentum as they went into the lockerroom. And those three points proved to be crucial.

Late in the game the punt return unit was able to make a huge play. STs coach Michael Clay had pointed out a potential block scenario during practice. The Panthers gave the Eagles the right look and TJ Edwards was ready. He came free up the middle and blocked the punt. That play gave the whole team a jolt of energy. The offense turned that into a quick TD and suddenly the Eagles had their first lead of the game.

The coaches can now show the players tangible proof of what they have been talking about for months. These are the takeaways we wanted. These are the STs plays we wanted. These are the clutch offensive plays we wanted.

This is how you win.

You and I can talk about draft picks and the future. Players and coaches live in the moment. Winning makes all the difference in the world to them. For a day or two, the Eagles can feel good.

Then it is time to think about Thursday night and Tampa.