1 - Why is this team so injured?!
We keep thinking that the Eagles are bound to have better injury luck eventually ... but eventually never comes for this team. It’s crazy how banged up they are.
The offense has been especially hit hard. By the end of Sunday’s game, here’s who the Eagles were missing:
RB1 Miles Sanders
WR1 DeSean Jackson
WR2 Alshon Jeffery
WR3 Jalen Reagor
TE1 Zach Ertz
TE2 Dallas Goedert
TE3 Josh Perkins
LT1 Andre Dillard
LT2 Jason Peters
LG1 Isaac Seumalo
RG1 Brandon Brooks
RG2 Matt Pryor
RT1 Lane Johnson
RT2 Jack Driscoll
Some of these injuries can be explained by bad luck. Especially in the case of younger players without extensive injury histories (see: Reagor, Sanders, etc.). That’s unfortunate.
Some of these injuries can be explained by poor roster management. Howie Roseman clearly screwed up by investing a lot of financial resources in aging, injury-prone wide receivers like Jeffery and Jackson. Those two players have the third and sixth biggest cap hits on the team this year, respectively, and they’re basically giving this team nothing.
Rushing to give extensions to offensive linemen over 30 years old — Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson — isn’t looking awesome. They’ve been plagued by injury since signing their new deals. Not to mention giving Jason Peters a raise to play left tackle only for him to get hurt.
To Roseman’s credit, I thought he did well by making medical staff hires from two of the NFL’s healthiest teams in 2019. But clearly that hasn’t done much good yet.
Roseman said the following words back in January: “Hope is not a strategy when it comes to injuries.” Ultimately, it’s his job to find a solution, and he clearly hasn’t done that to this point. It’s not just about bad luck.
2 - Carson Wentz keeps fighting
There’s no question that Wentz got off to a REALLY bad start this season. But you have to respect the way he’s fought dating back to the end of the Cincinnati Bengals game, when he helped the Eagles tie the game to go to overtime.
The Eagles as a whole showed a lot of resilience against the Ravens and Wentz led the way on that front. His situation was far from ideal — which has too often been the case in his career — but he demonstrated perseverance. Just look how badly he’s been getting beaten up:
Carson Wentz was under duress on 47% of his dropbacks on Sunday, his 3rd straight game where he was under pressure on at least 40% of his dropbacks. He's the first Eagles QB to be under that much pressure in 3 straight games since ESPN began tracking duress in 09. @ESPNStatsInfo— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) October 18, 2020
Wentz got the Eagles in position to tie the game towards the end despite all the offensive injuries listed earlier in this article. He had friggin’ Jamon Brown and Brett Toth protecting him. He had Travis Fulgham, John Hightower, Richard Rodgers, Greg Ward, and Boston Scott as his top five leading receivers by game’s end.
He made some real nice throws while getting hit, like his 4th-and-9 touchdown throw to Fulgham to bring the Eagles within one possession with 3:48 remaining. He continued to make things happen with his legs by taking off for a 40-yard run.
Make no mistake: Wentz can afford to be better. His fumble directly led to the Ravens scoring seven points. He nearly threw a pick six right towards the end of the first half. We should be holding the $128 million man to a higher standard than leading the team to some moral victories instead of actual wins.
Overall, though, one should be encouraged by how Wentz is trending up after such a poor start to his 2020 season. We’re seeing a franchise quarterback as opposed to a guy who deserves to be benched.
If only the Eagles could get the man some damn help.
3 - Doug Pederson is not the biggest problem
The offense obviously hasn’t been perfect but Pederson is squeezing as much juice as possible from the lemons he’s been given to work with. Consider all the injury issues the Eagles are dealing with and then look at these numbers from the past two games.
AGAINST THE STEELERS (No. 2 in defensive DVOA): 336 yards, 5.9 yards per play, 29 points. For perspective, 5.9 yards per play ranks 11th in the NFL this year. And it’s more than Pittsburgh averaged. The Steelers have allowed an average of 16.3 points to non-Eagles opponents.
AGAINST THE RAVENS (No. 1 in defensive DVOA): 364 yards, 5.7 yards per play, 28 points. For perspective, 5.9 yards per play ranks tied for 16th in the NFL this year. And it’s more than Baltimore averaged. The Ravens have allowed an average of 15.2 points to non-Eagles opponents.
In other words, these were two very respectable offensive outings.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you Doug was perfect. It clearly took too long for the offense to get going with zero first half points. The offense took a long time to break the huddle for their two-point conversion call (didn’t look prepared despite having the 2:00 minute warning?) at the end of the game and the play-call was bad. Why get the ball into the hands of Boston Scott instead of Wentz, who got the Eagles back into the game? You can nit-pick other plays that caused frustration.
Ultimately, though, Doug’s not the issue. Look at how his players continue to fight hard for him. How about maybe giving Pederson more healthy and talented offensive pieces?
4 - Don’t fire Jim Schwartz just yet
There were a number of calls to fire Schwartz after the Eagles’ loss to the Steelers. Some are probably still on the #FireSchwartz bandwagon. I’m still not there.
On the surface, it’s a weird thing to say after watching the Eagles surrender 30 points. But let’s acknowledge that Philly limited the Ravens to 5.3 yards per play (good for the NFL’s 11th best mark in that category). The third down defense improved after last week’s debacle; Baltimore was held to six conversions on 16 tries.
Heading into Week 6, Philly’s defense had the third worst average starting field position in the league. That was again an issue against the Ravens. Baltimore took over at the Eagles’ 28-yard line and scored seven points after Wentz fumbled. Baltimore took over at the Eagles’ 30-yard line and score three points after Fulgham dropped Wentz’s 4th-and-5 throw.
Just like I said with Wentz and Pederson, the defense was not blameless. They could’ve played better. Generating only three sacks, four quarterback hits, and zero takeaways isn’t good enough.
Still, it’s not time to fire Schwartz.
5 - Missed opportunities
Hard not to look back and think how the Eagles could've won if they didn’t miss all these opportunities:
- 29 plays for 99 yards in the first half, zero points.
- John Hightower’s wide open drop deep down the field on 3rd-and-23 during the Eagles’ first drive.
- Miles Sanders’ drop in the end zone in which the Eagles ended up with zero points instead of seven.
- Jake Elliott’s 52-yard field goal miss at the end of the first half.
6 - Travis Fulgham is the TRUTH
Still doubting? You shouldn’t be. Wentz is right; this guy is a BALLER.
Fulgham led the Eagles in receiving with six receptions for 75 yards and one touchdown. He also drew a crucial 49-yard defensive pass interference penalty on Marcus Peters on the Eagles’ potential game-tying drive.
Fulgham even almost caught Wentz’s Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half! Though he would’ve been down at the 1-yard line and the half would’ve expired.
Still, the point is that Fulgham is very much capable of going up and getting it. He doesn’t need to be open for Wentz to throw his way.
It’s crazy we’ve reached this point but I have to ask: is Fulgham the best wide receiver that Wentz has ever played with?
Looking forward to seeing these two continue to thrive together.
7 - The Eagles need Miles Sanders to not be seriously hurt
Sanders broke a 74-yard touchdown run against the Steelers. Sanders broke a 74-yard run that turned into a touchdown thanks to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside recovering the ball in the end zone (good blocking and hustle by JJAW).
The Eagles can’t really afford to lose one of their best big play threats. The running backs behind him are giving this team pretty much nothing.
8 - Let’s see more Jalen Hurts
Especially if the offense is in a funk! Hurts took a designed quarterback run for 20 yards to give the Eagles their first down of the game with 5:32 left in the second quarter. That play sparked an Eagles drive that ultimately went 70 yards and should’ve resulted in a touchdown if Sanders didn’t drop the score.
It was fun to see Hurts and Wentz involve in a double pass, though it ultimately only gained three yards.
The Eagles are doing some fun things with Hurts. It doesn’t come close to justifying using the No. 53 overall pick on him. But since he’s here, use him.
9 - Brandon Graham always brings it. Josh Sweat is joining him in that category.
You can always count on BLG to be that one guy busting his butt no matter how ugly things get. He played well in this game with two sacks, two tackles for loss, and one quarterback hit.
Graham’s hustle seems to be wearing off on Sweat, who has also stood out in a good way pretty much every game this year. Sweat had three tackles for loss and one pass deflection in this one.
Brandon Graham is 4th in the NFL with 5.0 sacks. That's the most by any Eagle through five games since that fraud Jason Babin had 7.0 in 2011.— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) October 19, 2020
BG's career high is 9 1/2 in 2017.
He's playing really well.
10 - Time to worry about Jake Elliott?
The Eagles’ kicker has missed three of his 10 field goals this year. They haven’t been chip shots; he’s missed from 52, 53, and 57 yards out. But this is the NFL’s ninth highest paid kicker on an annual basis. And we’ve obviously seen him hit from long before. He needs to make more of the tough ones.
Speaking of his contract, Elliott is only 18 for 25 since signing his extension in November 2019. For perspective, that 72% field goal made percentage would rank 29th out of 33 kickers last season.
Elliott needs to be better.
11 - The Eagles could very well reach .500 soon
The Eagles are 1-4-1 but they could conceivably go on a three-game winning streak over the next four weeks. Their upcoming schedule:
The Eagles could be 4-4-1 after this stretch. Hardly guaranteed given their propensity to disappoint ... but, it’s possible!
12 - And yet the Eagles should NOT be buyers
The Eagles could reach 4-4-1, sure. But then they finish the year with this schedule:
Week 11 — at Cleveland Browns (4-2)
Week 12 — vs. Seattle Seahawks (5-0)
Week 13 — at Green Bay Packers (4-1)
Week 14 — vs. New Orleans Saints (3-2)
Week 15 — at Arizona Cardinals (3-2)
Week 16 — at Dallas Cowboys (2-3
Week 17 — at Washington Football Team (1-4)
They’re probably going something like 2-5 or 3-4 in that stretch, leaving them with a 6-9-1 or 7-8-1 record by the end of the season. That might actually be good enough to win the pitiful NFC East. Or maybe not.
Either way, the Eagles shouldn’t be deluding themselves into thinking they’re closer to legitimately contending than they really are. Unfortunately, it sounds like they will.
I continue to worry that my greatest fear for the Eagles’ 2020 season is going to be realized. That they’re going to continue to be mired in mediocrity like the have been since Super Bowl LII. They’re down to 20-20-1 since that day.
Biggest issue is Eagles are trending towards being a purgatory team. With hard schedule rest of the season, their realistic best case scenario even if they get hot is 7-8-1 and most likely a first round playoff exit, and they’re going to mortgage future assets to make that happen— Dan (@snaxonly) October 18, 2020
You’re supposed to do nothing, only thing that matters is getting guys back healthy. They’re not gonna make any moves at the deadline that change their ultimate ceiling, it’s foolish to think that and mortgaging draft picks for marginal improvement is myopic/detrimental long term— Dan (@snaxonly) October 18, 2020
13 - The BLG birthday curse is real
The Eagles are now 0-4 on my birthday since I was born.