The Eagles rookies need to bounce back after mostly struggling against Tampa Bay last week. With a solid Raiders team on deck, here is what to look for from the Eagles first years.
DeVonta Smith: Back on Track
DeVonta Smith was starting to heat up before his numbers dropped off against Tampa Bay. Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni were not getting Smith high quality targets which hampered his chance to produce against a stingy Bucs defense.
The Las Vegas defense, overseen by Gus Bradley, should be a bit more vulnerable against the pass than Tampa’s and, hopefully, the Eagles will plan on getting the ball to their top receiver. Needless to say, Smith should be seeing the ball a lot more.
Landon Dickerson needs to play better. A lot better.
There is no way around it. Landon Dickerson has played really poorly the last two weeks (57th out of 81 guards graded by Pro Football Focus). Sure, they have come against quality defensive lines, but he needs to show a lot more on a snap to snap basis. It’s not just that he’s been inconsistent in those games. Inconsistency is expected with young players. It is that he never really makes positive plays to begin with.
Milton Williams needs to keep making plays.
Every week we see more and more of Milton Williams’ potential. The hope is the rookie can keep growing as a pass rusher. Especially in a game where the defense will be slowing down one of the better passing offenses in the league.
Will the Eagles remember Kenneth Gainwell is on the team?
Unbelievably, the Eagles have barely gotten the ball to Kenneth Gainwell in the last two weeks. He has had three touches. THREE. Between the Panthers and Bucs games. This is typically poor decision making from a team that has underutilized both of their talented running backs.
The offense looks better when Gainwell is getting the ball as a runner and receiver. Even if it’s only a few plays, his versatility and big play ability make a big difference on the field. With some introspection from the Eagles about how little they have run the ball recently, hopefully Gainwell will see more opportunities against Las Vegas.
Can Jack Stoll step up as the number two tight end?
With Zach Ertz traded, a huge whole has opened in the lineup. Obviously Dallas Goedert will step in as the top tight end, but who will be number two? UDFA Jack Stoll has been the third option at tight end all season, and mostly has come in to be an extra blocker. Stoll showed solid hands in preseason, and could be a viable check down option.
No doubt this is a huge chance for the undrafted rookie to make an impression.