The Eagles fell to 4-4 after another close loss. The talking points are getting repetitive, which is maybe a good thing? If there were different problems every week that would probably be worse.
1 The offense desperately needs a playmaker for Wentz
There’s the old saying “you’re only as strong as your weakest link” and that’s certainly true of the Eagles. The Eagles are next to last on third downs at 33%. This team has no real playmaker outside of Carson Wentz. Darren Sproles has come up with some really nice plays, but he’s not an every down player. Jordan Matthews has dropped too many passes, the next play Zach Ertz makes will be his first of the season, and if the team left the rest of the wide receivers in New York no one would be upset.
The Eagles have the worst group of pass catchers in the league. That’s an enormous handicap for a rookie QB and rookie head coach.
2 Doug Pederson can’t win for trying
The learning curve for a head coach is a steep one in the NFL, coaches last just three years on average and rarely get rehired. Like an offensive lineman, their successes go relatively unnoticed compared to their failures, which even when few and far between are put under a microscope. Doug Pederson is giving himself plenty of opportunities to be judged on lately. He’s been too conservative. He’s been too aggressive. His play calling has been frustrating. He doesn’t have any skill position players to build around. He’s in a Catch-22 this season. He’s going to make mistakes, no coach is perfect especially a first year one, but give me the guy who is aggressively trying to make some breaks for his struggling offense than some milquetoast cookie cutter coach.
3 Carson Wentz is still just a rookie
Wentz had another rough start, throwing to inexcusable interceptions. Except, you can kind of excuse them because he’s a rookie. Rookies do dumb things, it’s just in their nature. Always have, always will. If he’s still making these mistakes next year, in two years, then that’s a problem. But today, we’re just going to have to live with starts like yesterday and the Vikings game, as that’s the price of playing a rookie.
4 Carson Wentz has a short memory
We can live with those rookie mistakes in part because Wentz has done a really good job bouncing back from them. QBs are praised for “having a short memory” in that they don’t let a bad play effect them, and Wentz has repeatedly shown he’s got that trait. Again he played poorly to start, and again he looked much, much better as the game went on. Critics will point out that the Eagles are 0-4 in one score games, but without Wentz’s second half performances those games wouldn’t have been close.
5 Bryce Treggs might be something
Another reason for the Eagles close game woes is that, as mentioned above, they don’t have anyone who can really make a play. One reason among many is that defenses are able to compress the field because the Eagles have no real vertical threat. Until Sunday. Treggs’ 58 yard reception was a huge breath of fresh air to a suffocating offense, and he should have drawn two pass interference calls as well. Give him some more playing time Doug.
Treggs ain’t DeSean Jackson 2.0, but a Ted Ginn 2.0 (and Treggs has a ways to go to show he’s even that) is a useful piece.
6 Darren Sproles is your new starting RB, for now
The one good skill position player the Eagles have is a 33 year old 5’7” backup RB. Darren Sproles continues to be a dagger against defenses and has bailed out the Eagles on numerous occasions during his time with the team, but he’s just not built to carry a load for multiple games in a row. Doug Pederson is right to ride the hot hand, but at some point he’s going to have to go back to Ryan Mathews as the lead back, or give Wendell Smallwood, who the coaching staff raved about in the offseason, a chance.
7 Jim Schwartz is still not going anywhere
After every Eagles win this season Jim Schwartz gets his name thrown into the 2017 head coaching ring. And after every loss it gets yanked back. The offense is largely to blame for the Eagles losses, but the defense has had it’s fair share of it too. On Sunday against probably the worst offensive line they will face all year, the pass rush disappeared. This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen that this season either. Schwartz wants to win without blitzing, but his line isn’t winning up front enough on their own. He doesn’t need to flip the script and be blitz happy, but his near total aversion to blitzing needs to change.
8 Eagles are wasting money
In the offseason the Eagles gave Vinny Curry and Zach Ertz big contract extensions, and they are getting a terrible return on investment. Curry is the fifth highest paid 4-3 DE by average salary per year and 8th highest by guaranteed money, and he has just one sack and has been a rotational player all year. Ertz is the 6th highest paid by average salary and 7th highest paid by guaranteed money, he has yet to catch a touchdown. At least they’re getting their money back from Lane Johnson’s suspension.
9 We’re halfway through the season and the glass is half full
When the Eagles traded Sam Bradford and made Carson Wentz the starter, what was your expectation for this season? 5 wins? 6 wins? Those would have been fine expectations given the state of the Eagles. Midway through the season, they’re almost there. It’s going to be a long season and there’s going to be plenty to scream about. But compared to last year, this season feels pretty good.
10 Joe Buck and Troy Aikman don’t do their homework
This has nothing to do with the play of the Eagles but it annoyed me during the game... Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were hilariously bad yesterday. The officials were once again clearly awful and Buck was as blind as they were. On clear pass interference he was praising the coverage, and was talking about Zach Ertz as if a performance like Sunday was a routine game for him and not like a guy who had caught just 9 passes in his last 4 games. But that’s just opinion we can agree or disagree with. Aikman was even worse, at one point talking about Frank Reich as the Eagles play caller, which he is not. Fox’s supposed top duo were terrible on Sunday.