Where Things Stand

Posted: November 24th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

With the Eagles sitting at 3-6-1 and not much reason for optimism, fans are mad. Bench Carson Wentz. Have Doug give up play-calling duties. Heck, let’s go a step further. Fire Doug. And absolutely fire Howie. It’s time for a change.

I get those sentiments. Anyone suffering through Eagles games this year has had those thoughts. Sundays are supposed to be fun. That’s not the case this year. The Eagles are losing and almost as bad…they’re boring. The offense isn’t piling up points. The defense isn’t compelling. There’s no edge or personality to this bunch. They just lose games.

Then Wentz and Pederson get in front of the cameras and tell us they are going to keep working and will fix the mistakes. But they never do get fixed.

Ugh.

As Pederson loves to point out, the Eagles are still in first place. That will almost certainly change this week. Washington and Dallas play each other. One of them will get to four wins. The Eagles play Seattle on Monday night. Even the 2017 Eagles couldn’t beat Seattle. I’m not betting on this bunch to.

Winning the NFC East would be fun in a weird way, but the best thing for this organization would be to continue to lose so they get a high pick. There would be benefits to winning the division. Wentz would get a playoff start and that has value. Vets like Jason Peters, Brandon Graham and Jason Kelce would get another taste of postseason action. The rookies would also benefit from the experience.

Still, the thought of adding an impact player who could help the team for the next five years or more is enticing. The lazy joke is to wonder if the Eagles would waste the pick, but they’ve done well with early picks: Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Carson Wentz. Those guys were all Top 15 selections. Once you get to the 20’s, things get a lot more erratic.

I’m not cheering for the team to lose, but reality says it will happen and it really would be the better option.

As much as Pederson loves to talk about the Eagles still being alive, there is a legit chance the Eagles could finish last. That would be quite the accomplishment, finishing last in the worst division in modern NFL history. Just the idea of that has to get Jeffrey Lurie’s attention.

If I were Lurie, I would call Pederson to my office today. I’d tell him this is still his team. He makes the calls on how things happen (who calls plays) and who plays. I would let him know that there would be a thorough review at the end of the year and he better have good explanations for his decisions.

When asked after games why Carson didn’t throw on the move more or why Jalen Hurts didn’t play more, Pederson responds “I probably should have done more of that”. He can get away with snarky answers like that to the media, but he sure as hell better have detailed explanations for Lurie.

Pederson is coaching and talking his way out of a job. He won a Super Bowl and he’s won games the past two years, but this team is such a mess that it has eaten through a lot of goodwill that he built up. Beyond that, Pederson makes the team look bad each time he meets the media. He’s defensive. He offers countless excuses. He delusionally focuses on the positive angles (“These deck chairs look shiny” said the crew member on the Titanic).  Pederson offers messages that would make sense for a good team going through a rough patch. This is a bad team. The messages to the players and the public need to be very different than what we’re hearing.

I still think Pederson is a good coach, but he obviously isn’t doing a good job this year.

I would want Pederson to know that he’s got the right to keep Jason Peters at left tackle, but that he will be held responsible for that decision. Owners should never dictate to a coach who to play. You just have to let the coach know there will be repercussions for his decisons. Is Peters playing over Jordan Mailata worth risking your job? That is Pederson’s decision.

The gloves must come off, with Lurie dealing with his coach and with Pederson dealing with his players. Things are only going to change if there is true accountability.

As for Howie Roseman, I would fire him. Howie has made some terrific moves over the years and he built a Super Bowl roster in 2017. Kudos. He’ll forever have a place in Eagles history.

Howie’s decisions since then have not worked out as he hoped. Since bringing the Lombardi to Broad Street, here are the five best players Howie has brought to Broad Street:

Miles Sanders
Darius Slay
Dallas Goedert
Josh Sweat
Travis Fulgham

That’s hardly the foundation of a Super Bowl run.

You could argue that Malik Jackson belongs in there over Fulgham and we certainly don’t know how the 2020 rookies will pan out, but that’s part of the point. We haven’t seen anything great from the group. There are compelling rookies all over the NFL…just not in Philly. The moves just aren’t working out any more.

There are holes all over this roster. Just as bad, there doesn’t seem to be a plan. It feels as though he’s grasping at straws. There is a clear need for someone with vision running the personnel side of things.

There is no need to keep Howie around. You could let him go now and start the search for a new GM. The roster is what it is. What Pederson does between now and January matters. The same isn’t true with Howie.

I have no idea if Lurie will even consider putting Doug and Howie on the hot seat, let alone do it. Lurie tends to be a smart, patient man. But this organization is heading in the wrong direction. Letting Howie try to fix it would be a mistake. If he had the answers, the team wouldn’t have these problems.

Pederson is worth keeping if he can explain things and is open to change. There is a real need for honesty as to what has gone wrong the past three years. And that means that a coach or two that he likes is probably going to have to go. There needs to be more accountability than loyalty. The NFL is about winning, not friendship.

Normally I’m a very optimistic person. Heck, I thought this team was actually going to be good back in August/September. It wasn’t until the Bengals game that it really hit me that there were real problems.

The more I’ve seen of this team, the more frustrated I get, on and off the field. They lose and then the messaging to fans and the media comes off as delusional. This team is a few plays from being 1-8-1 and yet we’re continually hit with optimistic takes.

The 2020 season has been miserable and boring, but the upcoming offseason could be very interesting. If Lurie does stick with Doug and Howie, he’s playing with fire. Fans would turn on this team at the first sign of trouble next fall. That’s why this is the time to make tough decisions.

This is the time for change.

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Lost

Posted: November 22nd, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

Another week, another L. The Eagles lost to the Browns 22-17 in an ugly game on a rainy, sloppy Sunday afternoon. There were mistakes on offense, defense and special teams. There were questionable coaching decisions. In other words, the Eagles stuck to their 2020 script.

Ugh.

We keep waiting for the light to go on. No one expects perfection, but some signs that this team is working past the mistakes that have plagued it all year long. The offense finally has playmakers back. Miles Sanders looks terrific. Jalen Reagor and Travis Fulgham give the Eagles a pair of young, athletic receivers. Dallas Goedert is coming alive. Isaac Seumalo came back and gave the team a good OG for the first time in a while.

Despite that, the offense struggled in a major way. They needed some luck to get to 17 points (both TD drives started in CLE territory). Carson Wentz produced nine points for the Browns, throwing a pick-six and taking a sack in the end zone. Both plays involved clear hesitation on Wentz’s part. He remains physically gifted, but he’s a mess between the ears right now.

Wentz said after the game that he’s playing aggressive, confident football. Clearly he’s not watching the guy who plays QB for the Eagles.

The offense wasn’t particularly compelling from a schematic standpoint. If your QB is struggling, help him out. Figure out how to get him in a rhythm. And stick with the running game when it is working.

What’s so troubling is that the Eagles limped into the bye off a pair of ugly wins. They had extra time since they played on a Thursday night before the bye. The coaches had a chance to self-scout and find ideas for fixing the offense. The team started to get healthy and key players returned. The results have been two bad losses and only 17 points per game in them.

Right now it feels like no one has a clue how to fix Wentz and the offense. And that’s a big problem.

If this team was losing due to injuries and the weird season, you could live with that. That happened back in 2005. When you had Mike McMahon, Darnerian McCants and Ryan Moats trying to replace McNabb, TO and Brian Westbrook, you could understand losing and struggling. We’re looking at Wentz and Sanders and Reagor and Fulgham and Goedert. These guys are the key to the offense for the next few years.

Jeffrey Lurie should be very worried. Something is lost in translation. What is the problem: the messengers, the message or the guys receiving it? The franchise QB is a mess. That’s enough to make you question everyone, but then you look at the rest of the offense and there really are problems everywhere. There isn’t anything compelling about the Eagles offense right now.

The defense is hardly perfect, but they were the better unit today and they’ve been the better unit this year. The defense needs talent more than anything. Avonte Maddox has shown that he’s not meant to be a starting outside CB. Put him in the slot or back at safety. Alex Singleton has developed into a solid LB, but it sure would be nice to have an impact player in the middle of the field (S or LB).

The defense did have three offside penalties on Sunday. That’s been a problem recently and they tend to come at key moments. The lack of discipline is frustrating. Jalen Mills blew a coverage that led to a big play and resulted in a field goal. The whole point in having Mills at safety is to take advantage of his cover skills. He doesn’t have CB speed, but is okay for safety. Mills is average as a blitzer, hitter and tackler. If he’s making coverage mistakes, why play him?

Special teams continues to be an erratic area. They blocked a FG, which prevented three points, but Greg Ward failed to field a punt deep in Eagles territory. The ball was downed at the 2-yard line. That resulted in the safety and a subsequent FG. You’re giving away five points there.

The Eagles are now 3-6-1. They will fall out of first place next week (unless they shock Seattle). Reality should be starting to set in for Doug, Howie and the organization. This is a bad team. They need to have one eye on this year and one on the future.

2020 is a lost cause.

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Gameday – PHI at CLE

Posted: November 22nd, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

Looks like a nasty day on the field. Normally I say that after watching the Eagles play, but today we’re talking about the weather.

I’d say that’s an advantage for the Browns. They want to run the ball anyway. The Eagles love to try to pass the ball. We’ll see if the weather has a major effect on Doug’s gameplan.

As for inactives…

No Nate Herbig. I’m guessing he’s replaced by Matt Pryor, but we’ll find out for sure in a little bit.

Elijah Holyfield is active and will be the #3 RB. He’s not going to get a bunch of touches, but could get a situational touch or two. Watch for #33.

Joe Ostman is #95. He’ll likely play 10 to 15 snaps. I hope he has a good moment or two and earns the right to play again.

More than anything, I’m just curious to see how the Eagles play. Do they have energy and enthusiasm? Are they flat? I have no idea what is going on with this team. I’d love to see a spirited effort, but they really needed that last week and didn’t get it.

We’ll see.

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Game Preview – PHI at CLE

Posted: November 22nd, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 7 Comments »

The law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed – only converted from one form of energy to another.

What does that have to do with the Eagles playing the Browns? Funny you should ask…

Garrett goes down. Ostman rises. There is balance in the universe.

But wait, surely I’m not saying Ostman will play like Garrett. That would be nuts, right? Garrett had a legit shot at NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Of course I’m not saying that. That would be as dumb as predicting Penn State would start the season 0-5.

Is Ostman a secret weapon who will transform the NFL and lead the Eagles to multiple Super Bowls? Probably not. We won’t know for sure, though, until we see him in action.

Joking aside, it will be fun to see Ostman in action. By all accounts, he’s been a terrific practice player. Steven Means was the last guy who got the kind of practice accolades that Ostman does. When Means played, you saw that he was a marginal talent. We’ll likely see the same thing with Ostman, but when you’re 3-5-1, you look for little things to get excited about.

The Browns are 6-3, but a very weird team. They have two losses by 30 or more points. Not even the Eagles can say that. Cleveland lost their other game by 10 points. Three of their wins are by five points or less. Like I said, a weird team.

Cleveland is the #3 rushing team in the league. If the Eagles can control that, they can make like tough for Baker Mayfield and the passing game. I was shocked to see Mayfield has only run for 66 yards this season. I’m sure the coaches will have him on the move on Sunday since the Eagles have struggled with running QBs.

The Eagles have shut down RBs, but Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will be quite the challenge. The Eagles must get penetration up front to disrupt them and the entire defense must swarm to the ball to limit broken tackles.

I have no idea what to expect from the Browns defense or Eagles offense. Garrett’s absence will hurt a unit that is middle of the pack. The Eagles have been a mess this year, but they will get LG Isaac Seumalo back. That should give the OL a boost. It doesn’t sound like RG Nate Herbig will play, but it would be great if he did.

I’m really curious to see how the Eagles play. Last week’s performance was disappointing because of the loss, but also the way the team looked. They didn’t play with any urgency. If that happens again, the Eagles will lose and the outside pressure on them will increase.

It is possible that the team will play with more urgency. Doug Pederson’s teams have struggled coming out of the bye. Will they wake up and get going this week?

I wouldn’t be shocked for the Eagles to win this game. That’s not based on X’s and O’s so much as the fact they are going to have a good game at some point. We’ve seen all the things that can go wrong. One week things will go right and the team will win a game they shouldn’t.

I can live with a loss as long as Carson Wentz gets the ball to Travis Fulgham and Ostman gets his 5 or 6 sacks.

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Still in First Place

Posted: November 20th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 3 Comments »

A lot has gone wrong for the Eagles in 2020. Some of it is beyond control. Dealing with Covid and an incredible amount of injuries made this a tougher than normal season.

Plenty that the Eagles do control has gone wrong as well. Poor coaching. Bad offseason personnel decisions. Questionable roster management.

The team sits at 3-5-1. They are coming off a disappointing loss and now head into the most challenging five weeks of the season. The Eagles face five teams with winning records. Things could go from bad to worse in a hurry.

What does Doug Pederson have to say?

He talks about being in first place with a big grin on his face. Pederson adds “We want to be able to control our destiny.”

This just isn’t ideal to me.

It would be unrealistic for him to be all gloom and doom. That’s not Doug’s personality and it wouldn’t accomplish much. But I do think the coach has an obligation to read the room, so to speak. He’s the face of the team right now. His words matter. He is the most important representative of the Eagles at this point.

Fans do not want to hear “We’re in first place.” This team just lost to the Giants by 10 points. They’ve trailed by 10 or more points in 6 of their 9 games. First place or not, the Eagles are a bad team. Doug is supposed to put some positive spin on things, but he needs to be grounded in reality.

First place? The Eagles are in first place in the worst division in the history of the NFL. That just isn’t something you celebrate.

You accept it. Someone has to win the division. You don’t apologize for being in first place, but you sure don’t sit there with a smile on your face. That’s just not a good message, to fans or players.

We don’t know what Doug says behind closed doors, but players see these media bits. These clips are on web sites, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Players stumble across that. Doug should have a cohesive message to send to everyone. “We’re 3-5-1 and that is unacceptable. We’re in first place now, but that doesn’t mean a thing if we don’t start playing good football.”

What’s the point in being excited about making the playoffs if you’re going to be one and done. I know the 2010 Seahawks went 7-9 and won their division. They hosted a playoff game and beat the Saints. Seattle was 5-4 at one point and fell apart down the stretch. They were 5-3 at home. The overall record was bad, but you could see some good things about the team.

The Eagles have been bad from the beginning. They started 0-2. The Eagles only interesting nugget is that they’re 3-0 at night. Of course, it helps that they played backup QBs in two of those games.

I want Doug to be an optimist. I want him to sell his players on the idea that the season isn’t lost. I also want him to be realistic. This season has been disappointing and embarrassing. That can change to a certain extent, but you can’t undo what we’ve seen so far.

This would actually be an ideal time for Jeffrey Lurie to talk to the media and share his thoughts. His words matter the most. It would be good to hear him talk about his disappointment. Everyone wants to know that the man in charge feels incredibly frustrated by this mess of a season that Doug and Howie Roseman have delivered.

We don’t need Lurie to make threats about jobs or anything like that, but it would mean a lot to hear the frustration in his voice and to see it on his face. You know watching this dumpster fire has to be eating at him.

Dallas made poor coaching hires in the offseason. The Giants have made questionable decisions for a few years. Washington is one of the worst run franchises in all of sports. And yet, the Eagles are barely any better than them. That’s just nuts.

If the Eagles do lose three or four of the upcoming games, they’ll be in the running for a Top 10 pick. That seemed like an impossible idea back on Labor Day. But here we are. Ugh.

Doug had better do some amazing coaching or work on his interviews. He’s going to really drive fans crazy if he keeps up the “We control our destiny” angle while the team plays worse and worse.

Maybe Doug knows something I don’t and the Eagles are about to win three of five games. I’d be beyond shocked. I’ll gladly write about how I was totally wrong and he had the right message. That just isn’t going to happen based on what we’ve seen.

A worse danger than fans turning on Doug is fans not caring. It does feel like a bit more apathy creeps in each week. That should scare Lurie more than anything.

*****

Howard was terrific for the first half of 2019. He got hurt and didn’t do anything else. He was terrible this year for the Dolphins, rushing for 33 yards on 28 carries. Yikes. Just over one yard a carry.

I would like the Eagles to have more of a power runner in the lineup, but it would have been preferable for this to be an ascending player instead of a retread. This kind of thinking by Howie and the coaches has gotten the team into the 3-5-1 mess.

Ugh.

*****

With Curry out, will that mean a chance for Joe Ostman to see the field? I’d love to see what he could do. Genard Avery is still on IR.

The Eagles are never boring off the field.

Just on it.

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