1 - The Eagles’ offense is broken
Let’s be clear: expectations shouldn’t have been super high for an offense playing without their top three wide receivers (Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor), their leading rusher (Jordan Howard), and arguably their top two offensive linemen (Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks).
But injuries don’t excuse the Eagles only scoring THREE non-garbage time points against a Seahawks defense that ranked 24th in opponent yards per play and 21st in defensive DVOA.
Excluding the final garbage time drive against Seattle, this offense has scored 13 points on their last 25 drives. I repeat: 25 drives to get 13 points! To put that awfulness into perspective, the worst points per drive mark heading into Sunday was owned by the New York Jets at 1.15. The Eagles are at 0.52 in their last two games!
As tempting as it is to blame just one person (and those with an obvious agenda have done just that), the reality is there are issues across the broad. It’s a systematic failure.
Carson Wentz unquestionably shoulders a lot of blame. He simply missed a number of basic throws and admitted as much after the game.
“I just have to own those. I missed a few and there’s no excuses. I just missed them.” [...] “I missed them. I missed the throw. I have to do better. There’s no excuses. It wasn’t the wind, it wasn’t the – it was nothing. I have to do better.”
Wentz threw behind Zach Ertz over the middle on the Eagles’ first third down and that led to a punt. Wentz wildly overthrew a wide open Miles Sanders on the team’s second drive, which led to a 28-yard field goal instead of a potential touchdown.
Wentz has had some accuracy issues dating back to his rookie year. They were even apparent during his excellent 2017 season. The difference back then is he was able to make up for it with other awesome plays. But those aren’t happening now.
Instead, Wentz is generating big plays for the other team. He lost two of his three fumbles against the Seahawks and had a fourth one fortunately wiped out by a defensive holding penalty. Wentz’s two interceptions were inexcusably bad. Wentz had previously been doing a good job of taking care of the ball this year but now he’s not even doing that well.
As it’s been written way too often this year, Wentz’s surrounding situation was FAR from ideal. But he also played poorly independent of his supporting cast. He MUST be better moving forward. The Eagles need their franchise quarterback to play like one.
The Eagles’ wide receiver situation is, quite simply, pathetic. With Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor out due to injury, the Eagles entered Sunday’s game with four receivers who had combined for 14 receptions, 174 yards, and no touchdowns through Week 11. Think about how truly awful that is. Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller had 14 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns in ONE GAME alone earlier this season.
Jordan Matthews laughably led all Eagles skill players in offensive snaps against the Seahawks. Again, this is a guy who spent most of the season as a free agent before re-re-signing in Philly. He was targeted six times for three receptions and 27 yards. [UPDATE: Jordan Matthews was waived!]
JJ Arcega-Whiteside made a nice 30-yard catch along the sideline in garbage time but he had just one reception for 13 yards before that. The rookie also showed why the coaching staff — which clearly hasn’t done a good job of instructing him — hasn’t really trusted him to play. JJAW tripped Andre Dillard on a play that led to Wentz being strip-sacked ...
... and, really, just did a bunch of shit wrong as highlighted by former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky:
Rewatched the @Eagles vs Seattle game. That’s the single worst game I have ever seen at the WR position when it comes to details/being where you’re supposed to be when your supposed to be there/& not fooling the QB. I try to be positive-BUT THAT WAS AWFUL. They hung their QB out— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) November 25, 2019
Former Eagles wide receiver Bryce Treggs, who tweets from a private account, also weighed in:
Not a good look for JJAW or Eagles wide receivers coach Carson Walch.
Greg Ward actually did some nice things in his debut and caught six of his seven targets for 40 yards. He brought some level of competency to the position. Why wasn’t he promoted sooner? I’d honestly rather see him on the field than Nelson Agholor right now.
And then there’s Mack Hollins, who only played four snaps. All four came on obvious heavy package running plays. The good news is the Eagles have finally smartened up and cut back on his playing time. But, again, why did it take so long?
Playing without Lane Johnson at right tackle typically never works out well for the Eagles. Such was the case on Sunday where Johnson’s replacement, Andre Dillard, was so bad that he was benched after halftime. One can’t help but wonder why the Eagles ever felt great about putting Dillard out there in the first place when he expressed a lack of confidence in playing the position back on Friday when he said switching tackle spots is like switching writing hands.
Johnson’s absence was exacerbated by Brandon Brooks leaving the game due to the return of his anxiety. Matt Pryor, who was pretty awful in the preseason and has been a healthy scratch at times this season, had to take his first NFL snaps at right guard.
It seems like Johnson and Brooks could be back for this week’s game against the Miami Dolphins so at least there’s hope for the offensive line.
It looked like Wentz was finally getting in a bit of a rhythm before whatever the hell this was happened:
After the game, Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright talked about how the Eagles’ play-calling was predictable.
It surprises me that people found this surprising. Like, no shit, the Eagles’ offense is incredibly boring and limited. There’s no explosive element. It’s just a bunch of 12 personnel and running the football and short passes and it’s ugly and not fun to watch at all.
The Eagles threw 45 passes yesterday, and 41 of them were thrown within 15 yards of the LOS pic.twitter.com/0zx5CeQBdT— Roy Burton (@TheBSLine) November 25, 2019
It’s especially frustrating because the Eagles were expected to be one of the league’s more unpredictable offenses this year. They were going to be able to seamlessly flip between 11 personnel and 12 personnel packages. And now they’re here running this garbage brand of offense instead. It sucks.
Good point by former BGN contributor Brent Cohen:
Seems worth noting that this is the 2nd time in 4 years the #Eagles have ended up fielding literally the worst WR corps in the league. It's a huge blind spot for Howie. He's the #BadGM there, needs to operate with that assumed.— Brent Cohen (@EaglesRewind) November 25, 2019
On paper, it looked like the Eagles had a lot of offensive talent going into this year. But now the Eagles have reached a sobering reality where they’re utterly devoid of skill player talent. It’s been a problem all year and will likely continue to be down the stretch, especially since there were no real efforts made to fix anything.
I repeat: there are failures at every level. There are many intertwined factors contributing to this broken offense.
2 - Big picture questions are raised
Is Doug Pederson the right head coach for the Eagles? Is Carson Wentz the right quarterback? These kind of questions are raised after watching the Eagles offense under-perform for too long now.
It’s not the time for drastic actions. Pederson and Wentz were significant contributors to a team that won a Super Bowl. They’re obviously not going anywhere after this season.
And thus, while they’re certainly subject to criticism, it doesn’t interest me so much to simply say they’re not good enough and it’s time to move on. Even if that was true, the Eagles need to start by tweaking things at a smaller scale, such as firing offensive coordinator Mike Groh (clearly should’ve happened after last season), quarterbacks coach Press Taylor, and wide receivers coach Carson Walch. Howie Roseman surrounding Wentz with some explosive offensive weapons is also kinda important.
Ideally, Pederson and Wentz would be able to have success regardless of who’s around them. But it’s looking like they both need more help. The Eagles must give it to them. If they continue to struggle at that point, well, then they’ll know it’s time to move on.
Groh. Taylor. Walch.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 25, 2019
All must go. pic.twitter.com/l36i5uqmtr
3 - Don’t fire Jim Schwartz
The Eagles defense was far from flawless against Seattle. They were fortunate that DK Metcalf dropped two deep catches, including one for a touchdown. They were also fortunate that Russell Wilson overthrew a wide open tight end in the end zone when he could’ve just ran in for a touchdown himself. That’s 11 points the Seahawks left off the board.
Still, the Eagles’ defense has been keeping the team competitive in spite of a floundering offense. Schwartz’s unit has allowed 17 points or fewer in four straight games. The Eagles should have a better record than 2-2 in that stretch.
One previously couldn’t help but wonder if bad quarterback play was making the Eagles’ defense look better than it truly is. We know Josh Allen and Mitchell Trubisky aren’t good. And Tom Brady might be kinda washed? But Wilson has been posting MVP production this season and the fact the Eagles only kept him to a 75.4 passer rating is pretty good. He finally turned the ball over against the Eagles — twice — for the first time in his career.
Schwartz is far from perfect but the team shouldn’t be in a rush to fire him with the way the defense is performing.
4 - I will never forgive the Eagles for not drafting Russell Wilson
Look, we all pick hills to die on and this has always been one of mine. It’ll never not baffle me how the Eagles passed on Wilson THREE TIMES in the 2012 NFL Draft. They had two second-round picks and yet they just couldn’t possibly take Russ, despite his promise to them:
“If the Eagles draft me, I will lead the Eagles to championships.” - Russell Wilson— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 22, 2014
The Eagles ended up with Nick Foles, who ultimately helped them win a Super Bowl.
Still, I can’t help but wonder how the Eagles might’ve won multiple championships with Wilson. Or maybe it wouldn’t have worked out. Who knows for sure, there are a lot of variables to consider. It’s one of those “What if?” situations.
In any case, Wilson is pretty fun to watch. He obviously didn’t have a great game on Sunday but he did do enough to help his team win, as he often does. He certainly outplayed Wentz. The Seahawks are 92-43-1 in Wilson’s 136 career starts (including playoffs).
5 - Playoffs are still a possibility, lol.
The currently constituted Eagles sure as hell do not deserve to be in the playoffs. But since the Dallas Cowboys refuse to run away with the division, the Eagles are still alive in the NFC East.
Making the postseason could take the Eagles running the table and going 5-0 in their last five games. The schedule is hardly difficult enough to think accomplishing as much is impossible. But watching the Eagles’ offensive ineptitude makes one wonder how the Eagles could win a single game, let alone five in a row. It’s also hard to see why there’s much hope for this offense at this point, as I’ve maintained since the bye week. Where’s the drastic change going to come from?
The best reason for optimism I can offer is that it’s the NFL and unexpected things can happen. Feeling inspired yet?!