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Grading the Eagles’ offense through the first quarter of the 2018 NFL season

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It’s been a bumpy road for the offense...

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NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles have literally and figuratively limped into the 2018 season. They’re playing like a 2-2 team and accordingly they currently are a 2-2 team. Each quarter of the season brings new challenges and swings of momentum, and with that said, let’s look at how the offensive units have graded our so far in the first quarter of the season.

QUARTERBACKS: B

Carson Wentz is back and all of our sins are forgiven. This probably could’ve been a lower grade based on performance; even Wentz wasn’t lights out against the Indianapolis Colts, but none of that matters anymore. He’s back, he’s healthy, he’s seemingly shaken off any rust in a matter of a week and we have our franchise quarterback at the helm again.

The most concerning part about Wentz being back is that he’s taking sacks at a rate we have not seen before with him (9.4%), but we can talk about that in the offensive line section. Wentz has always held on to the ball a littler longer than normal in the search for big plays, and suffering a major injury while extending a play isn’t going to change his style. Even when he’s faced with tons of pressure, as he saw Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, he still has the touch.

Poll

Grade the Eagles QB position through four games

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    A
    (88 votes)
  • 64%
    B
    (560 votes)
  • 23%
    C
    (199 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (5 votes)
863 votes total Vote Now

RUNNING BACKS: B-

Another unit that is dealing with a seemingly never-ending wave of health issues, the running backs have still produced well despite those issues.

One major improvement has been their positive regression to the mean regarding red zone running. Last year the ground game only produced a 34% success rate and 8 touchdowns inside the 20-yard line. Things worsened when they were within 5 yards of pay-dirt, converting 5-for-21 (24%) in that scenario.

This has seen a major uptick in efficiency in 2018, thanks in part to Jay Ajayi’s increased goal line usage. This year the Eagles have seen a 50% success rate in red zone rushes with 5 touchdowns. From within 5 yards of the end zone, they’ve converted 3-for-5 of those opportunities. It’s been a major boost to an offense that has failed to find the same blistering scoring output that they had last year and bodes well for future efficiency with Wentz back.

Helping matters from 20-to-20, the Eagles’ stable of backs ranks 8th in the league with 15 plays of 10 yards or more on the ground. Overall, the ground game has been effective and a solid piece of this offense throughout the first quarter of the season.

The problem with this unit right now is their contributions, or lack thereof in the passing game. There are three running backs in the league with more receptions than the Eagles group combined, a product of Darren Sproles and Corey Clement missing time. If they aren’t going to get dynamic production on passing plays they’ll have to step up as pass protectors, which was a big area of weakness against the Titans blitz and stunt heavy scheme.

All told, the Eagles backfield needs to get to full health before we can truly grade them, but that’s the problem. Ajayi is dealing with a fracture in his back and Sproles hasn’t been able to string together games for a significant amount of time. Perhaps a trade is in the works?

Poll

Grade the Eagles RB position through four games

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    A
    (26 votes)
  • 35%
    B
    (257 votes)
  • 53%
    C
    (389 votes)
  • 6%
    D
    (45 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (7 votes)
724 votes total Vote Now

WIDE RECEIVERS: D+

I thought about giving this unit an incomplete grade, which would probably be fair. Mike Wallace exited with an injury in Week 2, Mack Hollins has yet to see the field, and we’ve been trotting out the all-JAG squad at outside receiver for most of the first quarter of the season. But what happened, happened. So here we are.

Alshon Jeffery’s return has already made a big impact (8-105-1), showing excellent chemistry with Wentz and giving the team what they need as a whole for them to be efficient in the passing game.

The problem was this positive play was negated by poor play from Nelson Agholor in Week 4. His three drops looked more like the Agholor we loathed in his first two years, but to be fair he was a reliable piece for the first three weeks and should be able to shake off the tough week.

The team will still be looking for more contributors until Hollins returns to health, but for now they can roll out their 12 personnel package that has been a highlight of the offense. Speaking of which...

Poll

Grade the Eagles WR position through four games

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (3 votes)
  • 5%
    B
    (37 votes)
  • 37%
    C
    (264 votes)
  • 44%
    D
    (309 votes)
  • 12%
    F
    (89 votes)
702 votes total Vote Now

TIGHT ENDS: B

Zach Ertz leads the team in targets (47), catches (31) and yards (327) and is coming off a dynamite performance against the Titans. In the loss, he was targeted 14 times with 10 catches and 112 yards as he dominated the middle portions of the field.

Rookie Dallas Goedert was largely missing from action in the first two weeks, but his Week 3 output against the Colts showed signs of the kind of boost he can provide. Not only that, he’s been a demon as a run blocker, something that was not expected and gives the Eagles flexibility when he’s on the field. This showed up against the Colts after they made the decision to counter multiple tight end sets with nickel.

Once the GodErtz package truly gets rolling, this combination has A+ potential.

Poll

Grade the Eagles TE position through four games

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    A
    (288 votes)
  • 47%
    B
    (328 votes)
  • 9%
    C
    (62 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (4 votes)
688 votes total Vote Now

OFFENSIVE LINE: B-

The proposed quick-hitting attack that gets the ball out in less than 2.5 seconds to protect Wentz doesn’t seem to be in the cards, and as such the offensive line is going to give up more sacks than other offenses that subscribe to that theory. That’s fine, but what we saw against the Titans is not fine. They struggled mightily against the blitz, in part due to poor help from their running backs, but there were too many reps lost by individual members on the line.

It’s not the end of the world though. The Eagles’ line ranks 12th in Pro Football Focus’ pass blocking efficiency metric and they’ve been road graders in the ground game, especially in the second half of games. They just haven’t been their usual dominant selves from an overall perspective.

Jason Peters has been dealing with a quad strain and after coming off a torn ACL and MCL in 2017 it has several hampered his mobility. Getting him back to full strength and mobility would be a godsend, but that’s no guarantee.

Overall, this veteran unit should be able to clean up the issues they faced against the Colts and Titans, but at the end of the day 9 sacks in the last 2 games just isn’t going to get it done.

Poll

Grade the Eagles OL through four games

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (1 vote)
  • 9%
    B
    (63 votes)
  • 53%
    C
    (375 votes)
  • 29%
    D
    (209 votes)
  • 7%
    F
    (50 votes)
698 votes total Vote Now

OVERALL: C+

For an offense that ranks 21st in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, this seems fair. The running game has been the bright spot and the passing game is just starting to come along, so the needle is moving in a positive direction. For all the gloom and doom that typically comes after a loss or a 2-2 start, the Eagles have had a lot to overcome and have significant room for improvement as they work towards full health.

Poll

Grade the Eagles offense through four games

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (0 votes)
  • 7%
    B
    (54 votes)
  • 74%
    C
    (531 votes)
  • 17%
    D
    (124 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (8 votes)
717 votes total Vote Now