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Eagles' First Quarter to Tell Tale Vs. Saints

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This feature is a weekly piece on BleedingGreenNation.com titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

The early returns are troubling: The Eagles have scored 3 points in the first quarter of their four games. In the three games they've lost, the Eagles have lost the first-half scoring battle by a cumulative 39-3.

Starting quickly, then, is a huge priority Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

With a crowd already on edge and a team that needs a boost of confidence, the Eagles must come out of the gates with energy and have some early success against New Orleans. Whether it's the defense setting the tone with a three-and-out series or the offense showing some life on its first possession, the opening 15 minutes of the game will tell the tale in this very important game.

Some thoughts on the Eagles and what this team looks like at 1-3 ...

  • Last week's first half was awful, and this number sticks out to me: The Eagles ran 3 offensive plays total prior to taking possession of the football with 51 seconds remaining in the first quarter. That speaks to two things: The defense did a poor job of getting off the field from the very start at FedEx Field, and the Eagles did nothing on its opening possession. Can't have that on Sunday. No way. No how. There needs to be some positive energy in the building.

  • It's mystifying that the receivers have been so inconsistent catching the football. The Eagles work on catching the football every day, of course, and wide receiver Jordan Matthews is diligent with his preparation. The Eagles have 14 dropped passes, according to Pro Football Focus, and Matthews, Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews have 3 each. It's a matter of confidence here.

  • I know that the time of possession statistic is a huge topic of conversation out there and there is absolutely no question that the Eagles are not possessing the ball as much as they need offensively. They need to sustain drives. They need to keep the football. They need to score points. Nobody argues with that. I will, however, disagree with the notion that the Eagles should have slowed it down late in the fourth quarter on Sunday against Washington. On the drive that began at the 50-yard line with 7:32 to go in the fourth quarter, the Eagles actually milked some clock and still had a three-and-out series. They snapped the ball at 7:32, then at 6:56 and then on third down at 6:20, and threw an incomplete pass. If the Eagles get some first downs and score points, I don't care a whole lot about time of possession. Look, it's important to have a four-minute offense, and the Eagles haven't shown that they can control the football much so far this season. But changing tempo just to change tempo? I don't think that's the answer.

  • He appeared to have taken the next step in Year 2 during the summer in Training Camp, but now wide receiver Josh Huff is struggling to get playing time. He was on the field for just 4 snaps for the offense on Sunday against Washington. Will Huff ever contribute here? It's time to make a move right now for an offense that could use every bit of help possible.

  • I expect Bill Davis to dial up a fair share of blitzes on Sunday against quarterback Drew Brees. The Eagles need to manufacture some pressure because neither Connor Barwin nor Brandon Graham is getting home much. Both are playing well against the run, but the pass rush has not been there on a consistent basis.

  • Hoping Davis has an answer for the shallow crosses and quick outs used with great success last week by Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Redskins were open all day in the short-passing game, and you can pretty much expect Brees to attack that part of the defense.

  • I think Eric Rowe is making progress and is working hard and he's going to be a fine player in this league. I just think that in the big picture, down the line, he's a better fit at safety. I think that any time Rowe is on the field, Brees is going to throw at him.

  • I love Nelson Agholor's poise and maturity and his game is coming along. He's going to be a good one. Loved that he was at the NovaCare Complex at 8 a.m. on Monday after the loss to Washington. Monday is a player's day off. Agholor gets it and knows what it takes to be a standout at this level.

  • Good news that Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are on track for Sunday. The Eagles know that New Orleans will send the blitz. Hope Peters and Johnson can hold the edge and that this offense can win at the line of scrimmage. Wouldn't surprise me to see a quick-passing offense to get the chains moving early.