Snake Eyes

Posted: October 24th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Another Sunday, another ugly Eagles loss. The final score was 33-22, but the game wasn’t that close. The Eagles have now fallen to 2-5 and are one of the worst teams in the league. All the optimism from the opening Sunday is long since gone.

After going up 7-0 and looking good, the Eagles fell apart. They gave up 30 unanswered points to trail 30-7. Ugh.

Derek Carr went 31-34 as a passer. That would be impressive in practice. It is embarrassing to see an Eagles defense allow that kind of performance. DC Jonathan Gannon is less popular in Philly than a Cheesesteak from Arby’s.

The Eagles did try to run the ball but an early injury to Miles Sanders (on a screen) changed the offense and led to some real issues.

Jeff Lurie cannot be a happy man right now. His proud franchise is one of the league’s big losers right now.

You don’t want to be on a list with that group.

No one should feel safe after the disaster of 2020 and the awful start to 2021.

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Gameday – PHI at LVR

Posted: October 24th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Eagles and Raiders. This conjures up some ugly Super Bowl memories from 40 years ago. This is the first time the Eagles have played in Las Vegas and it certainly looks like there will be plenty of Eagles fans on hand.

Hopefully Jalen Hurts and the guys will give those fans something to cheer about.

Lane Johnson is back at RT. Jordan Mailata will move back to LT. That should help the offense.

Will Nick Sirianni run the ball more? What adjustments will he make? This is a big day for him.

With Anthony Harris out, we’ll see Marcus Epps and Rodney McLeod as the safeties. Harris has been a disappointment so I’m curious to see how these guys do as a tandem.

The DL needs a big day.

A win keeps the Eagles within a game of .500. You want to stay alive as long as you can. The schedule gets easier down the road so you must win games like this to get to that point and have a chance.

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OJT Training

Posted: October 24th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

With Nick Sirianni as coach and Jalen Hurts as quarterback, we knew the 2021 Eagles would be a work in progress. This year is as much about learning as winning. Don’t tell that to Nick or Jalen, of course. They are desperate to win. Those of us on the outside know that just as important as winning this year is finding out if the Eagles have the right coach and QB.

So far? Neither guy has helped his case in a significant way. The season opener was great to be sure, but the next five weeks were less than ideal, to put it mildly. Sirianni hasn’t shown himself to be a great game-planner or play-caller. Hurts hasn’t exactly executed the plans (as imperfect as they may be) at a high level.

The Eagles are 2-4 and headed to Las Vegas to take on a flawed Raiders team. The Raiders started 3-0, with a pair of OT wins. Then they lost consecutive games by double digits. Coach Jon Gruden was fired and the team beat Denver last week. So the Raiders are 4-2, but they have some issues.

This is a winnable game for the Eagles, especially with the team coming off extra rest.

The Eagles have had a mini-break after coming off a Thursday game. The players got time to rest. The coaches got time to study the first six weeks, looking for what has gone right and what has gone wrong.

We’ll get some important answers on Sunday as we see how Sirianni handles this game. He’s had time to study his team and the Raiders. He’s had time to sort through data and go in-depth on game film. If he’s smart, Sirianni should have some answers for the team’s offensive struggles.

If the offense struggles again, that will be a bad look for the coaching staff. They’ll have Lane Johnson back at RT. They have healthy skill players. This isn’t the ’99 Rams, but there is enough talent that the team should be able to move the ball and score points.

One game isn’t going to tell us if Sirianni and Hurts are the answer, but both guys need to start showing positive signs.

Hurts has been productive. You can look at some stats and start to think he’s having a good year. That’s not the case.

No one questions whether Hurts can make plays. He absolutely can.

The question is whether he can be a consistently good QB. The Eagles are 19th in yards and 20th in scoring. Not all of that is on him, but you always have to look at the team numbers to see what the whole offense is doing.

Back to Hurts.

Not good.

Part of the problem is how Sirianni and the offensive staff are using him. Hurts is a gifted runner, but he’s a limited passer. He doesn’t have a great arm. He’s not a polished pocket passer. He doesn’t always see the field well and can make some poor decisions.

Think of other QBs who came into the league as gifted runners, but flawed passers. Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott were in run-heavy offenses when they got started. That allowed them to use their running skills and develop as passers. Hurts has thrown 35 or more passes in 4 of 6 starts this year. RB Miles Sanders only has 57 carries on the season. That isn’t a good formula.

Sirianni would argue that more than a few of those pass plays are RPOs or quick screens and not that much different than run plays. There is some truth in that, but it also misses part of the point. You’re keeping constant pressure on Hurts to make reads and decisions. There is something to be said for mixing in the traditional run game. That lets the OL fire off the ball and go hit on defenders. It allows RBs to attack downhill. They don’t have to worry about the mesh point. And the QB can just carry out fakes to keep backside defenders honest.

The NFL is a passing league. No one is asking for the Eagles to jump in a time machine back to the 1980s. But the Eagles are too anti-run game. They are putting a lot on Hurts. That would be fine if he was the kind of talent you wanted carrying an offense. Jalen Hurts is not that guy. He can get better, but right now he needs help, from his coach and his teammates.

Sirianni is trying to find his way as a play-caller. He’s trying to get a feel for his players. He’s also trying to win games. Unfortunately he’s struggling in all of those areas. Will the extra time make a difference?

The only real way for a coach to learn is by coaching. Sirianni had definitive ideas when he took the job, but things change when you are the decision-maker and the play-caller. If he can learn from the mistakes of the first six weeks, Sirianni can help himself and his team.

Sunday will be a big test for him.

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So Long, Zach

Posted: October 18th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

We all knew this was going to happen, we just didn’t know when. On Friday, Zach Ertz was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for a 5th round pick and CB Tay Gowan. That’s the end of an era. Ertz was a terrific player and also a really good presence in the community. I seem to recall he made a couple of important catches in a game in February of 2018.

It was clear from the summer of 2020 that Zach Ertz was going to become an ex-Eagle. He wanted a new deal and the team wasn’t going to give him one. We thought a trade would happen this summer, but nothing came to fruition. Finally an offer came through that made Howie Roseman pull the trigger. Ertz is now an Arizona Cardinal.

Good for him. The Cards are 6-0 and have one of the best offenses in the league. Ertz will give them another weapon as they make a Super Bowl push. Ertz would love to become a Hall of Famer. Adding another Super Bowl to his resume would certainly help. I don’t think he is a HOF player at this point, but we’ll see how he does the next few years.

Ertz had a lot of interesting things to say in his farewell PC. Make sure to check this out if you haven’t already seen it.

Fran Duffy did an excellent piece on Ertz’s career.

I was a big fan of Ertz’s going back to his time at Stanford. I projected him to be the Eagles 2nd round pick in 2013 and they made me look smart by actually taking him. Even better, he panned out as a good player.

Here is my post on Ertz from draft day. It was fun to see Ertz develop over the years. He started off as a terrible blocker and worked hard to become effective. He was painfully bad at running after the catch. Jimmy Bama charted his issues for years. Eventually Ertz became effective at this as well. His specialty was getting open and catching the ball. TEs aren’t supposed to run routes as well as Ertz did.

Ertz will be in the Eagles Ring of Honor in the future.

Now let’s jump back to the present. The timing of the trade is a bit odd. Why now?

There is no simple answer. Howie Roseman talked about wanting to see Dallas Goedert get to be “The Man”. No more splitting reps. The Eagles also want to get Tyree Jackson on the field when he’s healthy (soon?). Jackson showed excellent potential this summer. He needs to get on the field.

Ertz knew the Bucs game would be his last with the Eagles. They took a risk by playing him, but wanted to give him a chance to play in front of Eagles fans one more time. The next two games are on the road. That was a classy move by the Eagles. Being an Eagle meant something to Ertz. It was good for him to get one final chance to play at The Linc.

As for the Eagles, they add another resource for the 2022 Draft. The Cardinals pick will likely be late in the 5th round, but you can still find players in that area. The 6th and 7th rounds are more of the long shots.

Gowan is an interesting player. I had him rated as a 4th round target for the Eagles back in April. Gowan lasted to the 6th round, likely in part due to the fact he opted out of the 2020 season. Gowan is 6-1, 186. He ran a 4.49 at his Pro Day.

Darius Slay and Steve Nelson are older corners. The Eagles need young guys to develop for the future. They drafted Zech McPhearson in the 4th round back in April and now add Gowan to the mix. We don’t know if either will pan out, but the Eagles need young DBs to try to develop so Gowan does make sense.

Are the Eagles a better team? No, of course not. Ertz is a proven player. The draft pick and Gowan are unknown commodities. But Ertz was going to move on at some point so the goal was to get what you could and focus on the future. The X-factor in all of this is Jackson. He’s big and athletic and looked like a good pass-catcher this summer. If he could develop into a good role player, that would give the offense a boost.

*****

The Dolphins lost to the winless Jags on Sunday, and the game was every bit as ugly as you might expect. That loss helps the Eagles, who own the Dolphins 1st round pick.

The only bad news…there aren’t any elite QB prospects this year.

Still, the draft should be a lot of fun this spring.

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The Blowout That Wasn’t

Posted: October 15th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

The Eagles trailed 28-7. Game over. Their offense could do nothing right and you aren’t going to come back on the Tampa defense, even with a banged up secondary. The only question was what the final score would be.

But…

Tampa went to sleep and the Eagles got going. They scored 15 unanswered points to cut the lead to 28-22. Suddenly it was a game.

But…

The Eagles couldn’t get the stop they needed and Tampa went into the victory formation.

This was a weird game. Tampa never felt threatened, even when the lead got down to six. The Bucs weren’t sleep-walking, but they sure weren’t in assassin mode. Last week Miami trailed 24-17 in the fourth quarter against Tampa. The Bucs scored 21 straight to win 45-17. That looked like a Super Bowl team.

One thing we can say about the Eagles is that they are a tough, resilient team. They trailed by 15 last week, but came back to win. They trailed by 21 on Thursday night and cut that down to just six. Give the coaches credit for keeping the players locked in and give the players credit for battling. That does matter.

Unfortunately, the Eagles did not execute with any real precision or efficiency. They used broken plays and pass interference penalties to help them score TDs. That isn’t something you can count on. The base offense works here and there, but with no consistency. And that has to change.

Part of that is on the coaching staff. The play-calling needs to be better. Part is on Jalen Hurts. He needs to make better reads and better throws. Much better throws. He missed some open receivers tonight. The O-line let some blitzers come free. The receivers dropped a few passes. That kind of stuff has to stop. This offense just isn’t good enough to overcome mistakes.

Nick Sirianni was peppered with questions about the lack of a run game, again. You can tell this is getting to him. His answers are shorter and are starting to have an edge to them. I normally get tired of run game questions, but when the offense puts up 73 yards in the first half, I think it is more than fair to talk about mixing in more run plays (not just RPOs).

The offense only had 88 yards at the half last week. Why is that important? The first half is very gameplan driven. These are the plays the coaches like the most. The players practice them over and over. The first 15 to 20 plays should be effective, not abysmal.

The Eagles defense was erratic, but did settle down after a slow start. Give them some credit for settling in and getting better. The Bucs only score seven points in the second half. Saint Brady even got picked off. He actually got picked twice, but the officials made a terrible decision and overturned an INT. Replay decisions can just be torturous.

After a brutal six-game stretch to open the season, the Eagles sit at 2-4. They have two wins, two close losses and two blowout losses. They now have 10 days to rest and make some schematic evaluations. The next two games are winnable. If the Eagles could get to 4-4, that would make the final nine games pretty interesting.

If the Eagles don’t clean some things up and start playing smarter, they could lose the next two and see the season get away from them.

This team is tough. They battle. They compete. But they must play smarter and start making plays if they want to win some games and show us something.

There are no moral victories in the NFL.Go make some plays. Go win some games.

And maybe mix in a few more runs.

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