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Sunday Problems with Saturday Solutions

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NCAA Football: Buffalo at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the new weekly column “Sunday Problems with Saturday Solutions!” Every week I will be looking at what went wrong for the Eagles in any given game. Then I will connect it to college football performances the day before that deserve attention as potential answers to team flaws

This week the Eagles got off to a slow start, going into the half down 20-7. The rest is history as Philly roared back, scoring 25 unanswered points before Washington threw for a meaningless touchdown in the waning seconds of the game.

On the face, the problems on the roster (at this point) seem more to do with getting the team to start games quicker. The Eagles were last in the league in 2018 in first quarter points and the goose egg from yesterday’s first fifteen minutes indicates a lack of improvement in that regard. However the team looked great in the second half. The offense hummed, the defense clamped down on drive after drive. There wasn’t a lot in the second act of the game to give anyone pause about talent on either side of the ball.

However, the first half defensive hiccups came from a slightly unsurprising place. Between the poor tackling on Vernon Davis’s long touchdown and the lack of back end coverage on Terry McLaurin’s score, I’m a bit skittish on the progress of the secondary and the back seven at large. The Eagles have a handful of young players among their defensive backs and linebackers. The units are relatively unproven. While this could all prove for naught in three weeks if the young guys settle in and start playing like they did in the second half all the time, it is worth looking to the future to see where help could come from.

Uncertainty in the secondary could drive interest in a player like Antoine Winfield Junior. The redshirt sophomore has started the season hot with a particular impressive performance against NIU on Saturday. Winfield Jr., the son of the long time Vikings star Antoine Winfield, is a scrappy, rangy ball hawk. Saturday Winfield was extremely dependable in coverage while making a stellar game sealing interception.

Winfield still has a lot to prove this season but Eagles fans should keep an eye on him as a free safety prospect.

At linebacker, Eagles fans should take a look at Purdue’s Markus Bailey. The senior defender was crucial in Purdue’s upset victory of Vanderbilt, being integral in the effort to slow down their run game. Bailey flew around the field all days and made a few fun splash plays.

Bailey is a speedy, playmaking linebacker and he could be an interesting long term option at the position where Nate Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill have largely been average at best.