This is not in any way an overreaction to the way the Eagles moved the ball on Saturday night in their 33-23 win over Indianapolis, a team that has, by the looks of it so far in the preseason, a defense that is going to struggle to stop anybody.
Rather, it is an accumulation of the offensive scheme as it has been explained many times and by an understanding of the way the coaching staff wants to play the game each week.
The offense isn't going to be as bad as many out there think it will be. In fact, it might be pretty good.
Now, there is no reason to jump to the idea that the Eagles are going to score 35 points each week. Until they show the ability to get "chunk" yards from multiple players, it's hard to say the Eagles have the kind of multiplicity that keeps defenses on their heels. The Eagles are going to dink and dunk and move the chains and churn out first downs with the running game and a short passing game, and they're going to have some opportunities for success in the red zone.
Some of my reasons for optimism:
The offensive line has more depth than in recent seasons, even with the anticipated loss of right tackle Lane Johnson for 10 games. There is nothing official on Johnson yet, but the Eagles are treating the preseason as if they anticipate him gone for the first 10 games of the season. Allen Barbre has to hold up against speed edge rushers, but otherwise he should be fine. The Eagles can help with a tight end on Barbre's side and they can use their running backs to chip in pass protection. Fingers are crossed on Jason Peters playing the entire season, but there is no doubt the offensive line has held up well in three preseason games. The Eagles have some good depth with veterans Stefen Wisniewski and Matt Tobin (who seems to have become a reliable backup tackle) and they've got a handful of young linemen who are developing rapidly. A thumbs-up so far for the line.
We all see how talented Ryan Mathews is when he's healthy so, again, a nod of optimism that Mathews can stay that way. He's run the ball well in the preseason and he's clearly an explosive player. Using Mathews, but not wearing him out, is a key for the offense. Kenjon Barner deserves steady touches and, of course, Darren Sproles is a change-of-pace player who excels in space. It's hard to project that Wendell Smallwood can make much of an impact after missing most of the preseason with a quad injury and then a concussion.
The addition of Dorial Green-Beckham has changed the dynamic at wide receiver. He's a huge target and he's going to be used on fades, slants, drag routes - easy stuff where he can box out or go over the top and make catches. He will help in the red zone in a big way. When he's in single coverage, the Eagles are going to throw his way. If defenses double him in the red zone, another player has single coverage. Green-Beckham makes defenses account for him, and that's exactly what the offense needed. He is far from a complete receiver, but DGB is a presence who is going to help.
Giveaways were a major problem in the final two seasons of the Chip Kelly era and the Eagles have emphasized the importance of ball security here. Carson Wentz threw an interception in the red zone. Sam Bradford threw one that bounced off Nelson Agholor's hands. Otherwise, very good stuff from the offense.
You've heard it all preseason: This is an inside-outside offense. The tight ends will be a major part of the equation. Remember how we wanted Kelly to use multiple tight ends in his offense? He didn't do it much. This group will do it a lot, and will even use Trey Burton as a third tight end/quasi wide receiver to create favorable matchups. I like the idea of matchups and scheming and finding weaknesses in the defense. That's what the Eagles have to do, because they won't overwhelm any defense with talent.
As for Bradford, he has thrown the ball extremely well from Day 1 of practice in the spring. He is light years ahead of where he was a year ago. If the Eagles can give him time in the pocket and if they can keep him out of a lot of third-and-long situations. Bradford can move this offense and score points.
There is some creativity here that has been impressive. I like the plan for Josh Huff to get the ball in his hands in a variety of ways - crossing routes, handoffs, screens, ways that are easy for him to catch and run. I like the idea of different personnel packages. I like motion and formation variations. The Eagles know they have to scheme to help the offense, and that's a good challenge for the coaching staff and for the advance staff to deliver.
A potent offense? I don't know about that. I do think the Eagles can be effective, efficient and that they can win football games by scoring touchdowns in the red zone, by being balanced with the run/pass games and my limiting their giveaways. Time's yours ...
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By DAVE SPADARO