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Eagles News: Philadelphia needs more answers in the red zone

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 10/10/23.

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NFL: SEP 14 Vikings at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Let’s get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...

NFL’s best and worst Week 5 coaching decisions: Zac Taylor unlocks Bengals offense - The Athletic
DISLIKES: The Eagles’ red-zone offense is ugly. The Eagles were third in red zone efficiency last season. This season, with mostly the same players, they’ve dropped all the way down to 27th. After five games, it’s not just a fluky start to the season, it’s a real concern. They have a physical running quarterback who changes the math, a bruising offensive line, and two big targets to throw to in A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert. They should not be this bad in the red zone. Against the Rams, they only scored two touchdowns in six red zone possessions. Last season, under offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, they were so creative with their RPO and play-action game, but this season, it seems they’re just running in the red zone simple zone-read concepts, too many verticals into compressed space, and just relying on goal line fades to Brown, for which teams are prepared. On one red zone trip, Jalen Hurts tried to throw a back shoulder fade to Brown, but cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was ready for it and undercut him, intercepting the pass. This is Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson’s first season calling plays in the NFL, but he’s well-regarded around the league. I think he’ll figure it out eventually, but the Eagles need more answers in the red zone. The good news is that they are 5-0, but the offense is too talented to be this inconsistent.

Eagles vs. Rams: 15 winners, 4 losers, 5 IDKs - BGN
The Eagles’ first three drives in the second half: 1) 7 plays, 75 yards. 2) 17 plays, 83 yards. 3) 10 plays, 72 yards. The Eagles scored just six points from those. That was good enough to beat the Rams but it’s not going to be good enough to beat better opponents coming up on Philly’s schedule. The Eagles have scored touchdowns on just four of their last 12 red zone trips. In fairness, two of those visits were end of game scenarios where they were more focused on running clock than scoring points. Still, four out of 10 isn’t good. The Eagles are converting 42.11% of their red zone attempts this season. Only five teams rank below them. This one year after they ranked third-best at 68%. Red zone performance is not considered to be a sticky stat year-to-year, so it’s not insane that the Eagles have dropped off to some extent. But to be as bad as they’ve been is surprising considering the talent they have to work with. You would think this issue is something the team should be able to iron out.

At the Podium: Jalen Hurts on Week 5 win over the Rams - BGN Radio
Jalen Hurts speaks with the Philly media following the Eagles’ Week 5 win over the Rams.

Eagles offer reminders of Super Bowl team with convincing win over Rams - PHLY
This is what it looked like in 2022. Multiple players excelled on the ground and in the air, the offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, and Hurts looked like an MVP candidate. The main issue on offense was finishing 2 of 6 in the red zone (2 of 5, really, because they were trying to wind the clock down on the final drive), and the Eagles know they must fix that to reach their offensive potential. When Kelce was asked about spirited emotions on the sideline, he acknowledged that the red zone issues are a source of frustration. “Red zone is killing us,” Mailata said.

All On The Line - Iggles Blitz
For a while, it felt like the offense was a bit off. That’s not the case anymore. The Eagles are 2nd in yards and 5th in points. The one area where they must improve is the red zone, where they are just 27th. If the Eagles scored a few more TDs instead of FGs, this offense could be the best in the NFC. I’m still leaving the Dolphins as the best in the league. Scoring TDs would also take some of the drama out of these games. The Eagles are 5-0, but they’re playing with fire as they let teams hang around. They need to do a better job of putting them away.

3 players who make sense for the Eagles at the trade deadline, 1.0 - PhillyVoice
Jabrill Peppers would be an upgrade at safety for the Eagles, and a player who also has extensive experience as a returner (85 career punt returns, 34 career kick returns) if they needed him in a pinch. He is also under contract through 2024 on a reasonable contract ($3,180,000 base in 2024), and could serve in something of a safety/linebacker role with Reed Blankenship and (presumably) Sydney Brown starting at safety. Maybe a couple of Day 2 picks, like a 5 and a 6? Two 5’s? Bill Belichick is essentially the GM, so I’m not sure how inclined he would be to sell at the trade deadline, especially with his future as the team’s head coach in question. But a trade here makes a lot of sense for both teams as long as the Pats can see that they aren’t contenders anymore and likely won’t be for years.

NFL Week 6 Betting: Best spread, over/under bets before lines move - PFF
In Week 1, New York held Bills quarterback Josh Allen to his lowest-graded game of the season, by far, with a 52.3 mark, three interceptions on four turnover-worthy plays and five sacks taken. In Week 4, New York held Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to his lowest-graded game of the season, by far — one of the worst games of his NFL career. Mahomes earned a 48.4 grade with two interceptions. The Jets’ pass rush and secondary will cause problems for Jalen Hurts, whose offensive line has allowed the second-lowest pressure rate on true pass sets. New York’s defense ranks third in the NFL in pressure rate.

The Hot Read, Week 5: In Case You Weren’t Already Aware, Brock Purdy Is Legit - The Ringer
2-1: That’s Jalen Hurts’s record in his past 23 regular-season starts. If you’ve been reading the Hot Read regularly this season, you know I’m big on the film and big on the numbers—not so big on wins. Wins are overrated. One hundred things happen in every NFL game; 50 of them are dumb luck and coin flips. I like teams that play well, and presumably, they’ll win at some point. But man, Hurts and the Eagles just win. They’ve been far from a perfect team this season—they spent most of Sunday’s game arguing with one another on the sideline, for goodness’ sake! And through all of the issues, the Eagles have just slowly and steadily been playing better and better football as they shake off the Super Bowl hangover. Offensively, this was their best game of the season by both success rate (per play) and expected points added (per drive); defensively, it looked sketchy early, but they circled the wagons for a dominant second half. I continue to be impressed by how well the Eagles close out games. No team is better at sitting on a lead—not by just running the ball mindlessly into a three-and-out, but by controlling the clock and moving methodically down the field. Against the Rams, the Eagles had three scoring drives of at least 12 plays. That level of sustained, mistake-free football is hard to find—though, of course, having a fourth-and-1 cheat code certainly helps.

Roob’s Eagles Stats: Some crazy Carter, Brown and Covey numbers - NBCSP
BOUNCING BACK: Finally this: The Eagles are only the sixth team ever and the first in more than three decades to open a season 5-0 after losing the previous year in the Super Bowl. The 1991 Bills won their first five games after losing to the Giants 20-19 the previous year in Super Bowl XXV in Tampa on the 47-yard Scott Norwood missed field goal with eight seconds left. The last team to start 6-0 after losing a Super Bowl was the 1981 Eagles.

’Team Tanner’: Faith and family led to Tanner McKee winning his battle with cancer -
“The best thing I could do was lean on my faith and trust the doctors,” McKee said. “My dad said a blessing that made us feel confident that we were doing the right thing.” However, there was one thing that had Tanner and his family a little on edge. There was a nerve right next to one of the lymph nodes that would be removed from Tanner’s neck. That nerve controlled his right arm, the arm that Tanner throws the football with. If the nerve were nicked, it could have altered the use of Tanner throwing arm and put a wrench in his football career. McKee and his parents had to sign a waiver that made them aware of the ramifications if the nerve were to be damaged in surgery. “That ratcheted up the intensity and the nerves for the surgery,” Jeremie said. As we know from McKee’s strong college career at Stanford and journey to the NFL, his throwing arm is “all good.” It was thanks to the precise ability of Dr. Yamamoto that Tanner was able to perfect his throwing motion when he woke up from surgery. Tanner’s margins were clear, and he has been cancer-free ever since.

Alijah Vera-Tucker out for the season with a torn Achilles - Gang Green Nation
This is a huge loss for the Jets. Vera-Tucker has been the team’s most consistent lineman the last two seasons. He just cannot seem to catch a break injury wise. Now the Jets will need to figure out how to make it through the rest of the season without him again.

Bad night for Mike McCarthy, Dak Prescott’s job security in demoralizing loss to 49ers - Blogging The Boys
Yes, the Cowboys are still 3-2 and on pace to make the playoffs. But this game, coupled with the ugly Week 3 loss in Arizona, says that Dallas is still a second-tier squad in the NFC. Even that might be generous right now; the Lions, Bucs, and Seahawks probably don’t lose to the Cardinals or let the 49ers embarrass them the way the Cowboys did. Again, moving on from Jason Garrett and committing to Dak Prescott were supposedly about finally doing something bigger. No more participation trophies, bronze medals, or even silver. McCarthy and Prescott were supposed to be the foundation of a championship team, and right now Dallas can’t even win its own division. For some, the frustration with McCarthy goes all the way back to the initial hire in 2020. If you are of the mind that McCarthy was a decent coach who was lucky to have Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers most of his career, days like we just had validate that perception. And in the same breath, it’s a reminder that Prescott isn’t one of those elite quarterbacks and could ultimately hinder the Cowboys from their one true goal.

Sources: Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch could miss 4-6 weeks - ESPN
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch could miss four to six weeks because of a neck strain suffered in Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, according to multiple sources. Coach Mike McCarthy said Vander Esch is likely headed to injured reserve, which means he would miss at least the next four games. After next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Cowboys have their bye, which could put Vander Esch’s return at Nov. 19 at the Carolina Panthers or as late as Nov. 30 against the Seattle Seahawks. He has a history of neck issues, missing seven games in 2019 and undergoing surgery after the season. He missed the final three games of last season with a neck injury. He suffered this injury with 13:59 left in the fourth quarter when he was pushed from behind and collided with Micah Parsons’ leg. [BLG Note: The Eagles host the Cowboys in Week 9, so LVE is on track to miss that game.]

What are the odds? Washington Commanders are road underdogs against the Atlanta Falcons - Hogs Haven
Washington gets a long break before they have to travel south to face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta is 3-2, and they just beat a better than expected Houston Texans team 21-19 yesterday. Washington opens as 2-point road underdogs against the Falcons. The over/under is 42, which is down 2 1/2 points from last week.

Brian Daboll ‘optimistic’ Giants’ QB Daniel Jones could play Sunday vs. Buffalo Bills - Big Blue View
New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll said Monday afternoon that he is “optimistic” quarterback Daniel Jones could play Sunday night when the Giants travel to Western New York to face the Buffalo Bills. Jones does not yet have the results of an MRI done on his neck after he left Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins following a sack by Andrew Van Ginkel. Still, Daboll’s words are a positive sign that Jones’ neck injury is not as severe as the one that landed him on IR in 2021 and required surgery. “We’re optimistic. He’s feeling better today. I think he’s moving in the right direction,” Daboll said. “We’ll see where he is when he comes back on Wednesday, but [he] doesn’t feel terrible today.”

Monday Morning Optimist: It’ll probably get worse, but it will get better - Cat Scratch Reader
Rushing Attack-Pessmistic. After signing Miles Sanders to one of the bigger RB deals in free agency, I’m struggling to see why the Panthers didn’t just retain D’Onta Foreman alongside Chuba Hubbard instead. Sanders had a back breaking fumble after a huge turnover on downs by the Panthers defense, which allowed the Lions to go up 21-7 on a Panthers offense that was already struggling to score points. Chuba Hubbard and even Shenault appear to be better fits for what the Panthers offense wants to do running the football. While neither Sanders nor Hubbard were particularly impressive on the ground, Sanders’ style seems more suited to a team that has a higher ability to score points, rather than a team like the Panthers who need to keep the down and distance as close as possible for their rookie QB. Hopefully the bye week following the Dolphins game gives them some time to figure this part of their offense out.

Report: Colts’ QB Gardner Minshew to start against Jacksonville as Richardson battles shoulder injury - Stampede Blue
Veteran quarterback Gardner Minshew is set to start for the Indianapolis Colts’ Week 6 road matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to Shane Steichen. The news comes after Steichen confirmed that Colts’ rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson is dealing with ‘an AC (joint) injury.’ Richardson left during the second quarter of Indianapolis’ 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans after linebacker Harold Landry tackled the rookie from behind, causing his shoulder to be pushed into the turf. The injury appeared to be based on how awkwardly Richardson landed after being tackled by Landry.

T.J. Watt punched Ravens WR with vicious haymaker to break up pass - SB Nation
T.J. Watt might be the most dominant defensive player in football right now. The Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end continued his sensational 2023 campaign on Sunday by notching two sacks and a recovered fumble against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers beat the Ravens, 17-10, to move into first place in the AFC North through the first five weeks of the season. The story of the game was Baltimore wide receivers letting down Lamar Jackson, but Pittsburgh’s defensive play was a big reason for that. Just look at the viral play Watt made in the first half. Watt delivered a knockout punch to Ravens rookie WR Zay Flowers early in the second quarter. This wasn’t called for a penalty, but it sure seems like a dangerous play.


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