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.
Some of the things the Eagles are doing on offense looks promising: Quarterback Carson Wentz and tight end Zach Ertz have something going good. The wide receivers make a difference. Darren Sproles still has his quickness and make-guys-miss-ability. Wentz appears more than capable of handling the many responsibilities he’s being given.
And then there are the areas that must improve:
- The running game has not been productive, something that is, of course, not a revelation. It’s not just about the run/pass ratio. It’s about the execution of the ground game, which has not been functioning at a high level. Do the Eagles have confidence in their running back rotation? Is there a bread-and-butter running play? Why is the vaunted offensive line so inconsistent in its play? I don’t have answers, but it’s clearly something that has to improve if the Eagles want to win this winnable NFC East and go where they want to go.
- Turnovers were the most significant factor in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City: The fumble on the punt return by Sproles and the interception thrown by Wentz led to 10 Kansas City points.
- The screen game, so good for so long, has not been as productive as the Eagles want it to be. Why? The timing isn’t there. The execution level hasn’t been consistent. Maybe the Eagles are relying on it at times when they might have better opportunities throwing the football down the field to receivers who are winning battles.
- The red zone, a major problem a year ago, was a problem in Kansas City. The Eagles were just two of five with their touchdown efficiency in the red zone at Arrowhead Stadium. One of the trips came after the freaky Zach Ertz catch and run for 53 yards to set up Jake Elliott for a 30-yard field goal that he missed. That was another blown chance to put points on the board.
The point is this: The Eagles have some wrinkles to iron out with the offense. They know that. It’s isn’t just run/pass ratio, a statistic that looks great on paper but, honestly, doesn’t play all that much into the equation in the modern era of throwball in the NFL. Teams throw the ball more than they run in today’s NFL. Only six teams have run the ball more than 50 percent of the time in the first two weeks of the season -- Baltimore, Denver, Buffalo and Jacksonville, Carolina and Tampa Bay (played one game, won big against Chicago). Any of those offenses among the top five knock your socks off?
Head coach Doug Pederson has dialed up running plays on 32.54 percent of the offensive snaps in two games, a percentage higher than only these teams: Green Bay, New Orleans, New York Giants, and Chicago. The Dallas Cowboys, by the way, have called runs on only 33.58 percent of their offensive snaps, so you see how small the sample size in through two games.
Now, nobody is disputing that the Eagles must improve the run game in every aspect. It’s really, though, more about the overall offense than just the running game. Wentz is taking too many hits. The Eagles are missing chance to score points on “chunk” throwing plays.
Sunday’s opponent, the New York Giants, have allowed a shocking 133.5 yards per game on the ground in their two defeats after ranking second in the league in that category last season (87.8 yards per game). Of course, the Giants have been playing from behind this year after reaching the playoffs in 2016, and the score of the game clearly makes a difference in the run calls offensively.
So what is your game plan for the Eagles? The strength of the offense is Wentz with the ball in his hands throwing to a good group of receivers. Maybe the Eagles can get the ball out of Wentz’s hands faster and forge a lead and then get to the running game and find some rhythm.
The point here is this: It’s the entire offense that needs to raise its game, not just the run/pass ratio or even simply the running game itself. Let’s see what adjustments are introduced and what improvements can be made in a week’s time as the Eagles look to get to 2-0 in the NFC East on Sunday.