I was thinking of all the possibilities that exist for this team, and as I was contemplating this; I started looking at each component on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. I believe that this team, in many ways, is superior to last year’s team on the field. Sadly, I think the coordinators (OC/DC) might be the biggest obstacles to these units excelling. Is it a certainty that they will, no. Now don’t get me wrong, and please hear me out. Last year, everyone knew that with the exception of Mahomes and T. Kelce, the Eagle’s possessed the more talented roster, but they still lost. So, while I see Desai as a vast improvement over Gannon, at this moment, that is negated by Johnson’s inexperience when compared to Steichen. So, let’s look at the roster by the numbers, which never lie, and see what might be possible. Let’s start with the offense for now.
QB: Hurts / Mariota / McKee (A-)
(First Three Games)
Passing 2022 - Cmp/Att: 66/98, Cmp%: 67.3%, Yds: 916, Y/A: 9.3, TDs: 4, INT: 1, Sk: 7
Rushing 2022 – Att: 37, Yds: 167, Y/A: 4.23, TDs: 3, Fum: 1
Passing 2023 - Cmp/Att: 63/93, Cmp%: 67.7%, Yds: 640, Y/A: ,TDs: 3, INTs: 3, Sk: 8
Rushing 2023 – Att: 31, Yds: 100, Y/A: 3.23, TDs: 3, Fum: 1
Hurts’ numbers pretty much reflect how things started out last year. While INTs have increased, things remain similar to last year, which is reassuring, considering how he sat out the preseason. I was happy to see Mariota replace Minshew, and while I’m not saying McKee is another Brock Purdy, he’s talent in the pocket is impressive. The only concern I have initially is Hurt’s overlooking Goedert in game 1, and not utilizing Oz sooner than game 3, but as a whole, this group is more talented than last year’s.
RB: Swift / Gainwell / Penny / Scott (B+)
(First Three Games)
Sanders 2022 – Att: 45, Yds: 222, Y/A: 5.26, TDs: 1, Fum: 0
Gainwell 2022 – Att: 10, Yds: 33, Y/A: 3.03, TDs: 1, Fum: 0
Scott 2022 - Att: 10, Yds: 29, Y/A: 2.41, TDs: 0, Fum: 0
Swift 2023 – Att: 45, Yds: 308, Y/A: 6.80, TDs: 1, Fum: 0
Gainwell 2023 – Att: 28, Yds: 97, Y/A: 3.50, TDs: 0, Fum: 0
Penny 2023 - Att: 3, Yds: 9, Y/A: 3, TDs: 0, Fum: 0
Scott 2023 - Att: 6, Yds: 43, Y/A: 7.2, TDs: 0, Fum: 0
There’s no question that the team added a broader range of talent in Swift and Penny over last year’s roster. Sadly, Johnson hasn’t demonstrated that he can effectively utilize these elements in a rotation. This was clearly illustrated with Swift ignored in game 1, and Penny pretty much a roster waste for all 3 games thus far. The talent exists for the Eagle’s to mimic the Giant’s "Earth (Jacobs), Wind (Ward), and Fire (Bradshaw)" approach under Tom Coughlin.
Take our most recent game against Tampa. In game 3, Johnson finally started utilizing Swift/Gainwell in an effective rotation. Yet, Johnson should have started utilizing Penny to hammer away at Tampa late in the third when they showed signs of exhaustion. He’s the largest back we’ve had in a while, and hasn’t been used in even the most obvious circumstances. (See Gainwell’s failed attempts on 3rd & 4th and short). It should have been Swift for 3 plays, Gainwell for 2, and Penny for any 3rd/4th down attempts and anything less than 2 yards. The first and second quarters should be all Swift and Gainwell; with Penny used for short yardage attempts. Third quarter should then be carried by Penny; hammering away at defenses, with whoever isn’t going to be leaned on in the 4th to spell him. Finally, bring back a rested Swift/Gainwell (whichever has been more effective in the run) in the 4th, and let them close it out. This approach led the Giants to a Super Bowl victory over the Patriots.
WR: Brown / Smith / Zaccheaus "Oz" / Watkins (A)
Brown 2022 – Tgt: 31, Rec: 20, Yds: 309, Y/A: 15.4, TDs: 1, Fum: 0
Smith 2022 – Tgt: 23, Rec: 15, Yds: 249, Y/A: 16.2, TDs: 1, Fum: 0
Oz 2022 (Atl) - Tgt: 8, Rec: 8, Yds: 119, Y/A: 15.7, TDs: 1, Fum: 0
Watkins 2022 – Tgt: 3, Rec: 2, Yds: 69, Y/A: 34.5, TDs: 1, Fum: 0
Brown 2023 – Tgt: 30, Rec: 20, Yds: 293, Y/A: 12.0, TDs: 0, Fum: 0
Smith 2023 – Tgt: 20, Rec: 15, Yds: 206, Y/A: 13.7, TDs: 2, Fum: 0
Oz 2023 - Tgt: 3, Rec: 2, Yds: 58, Y/A: 29, TDs: 1, Fum: 0
Watkins 2003 - Tgt: 2, Rec: 2, Yds: 17, Y/A: 8.5, TDs: 0, Fum: 0
The Eagles possess arguably one of the best WR duos in the NFL in Brown and Smith (I would say only Miami, has a better one with Hill/Waddle). When Howie brought in Oz, I saw a slot receiver that the Eagles had been missing to mimic Washington’s Posse (Art Monk, Gary Clark, & Ricky Sanders) from the late 80s early 90s. They were only the second unit, at the time, to have 3 one-thousand-yard receivers (’89) on a single team. Oz had seven games last year where he caught everything thrown his way, for ATLANTA!
The Tampa game clearly illustrated what could happen if Oz is utilized effectively. This would not only help eliminate double teams on either Brown or Smith, but help keep drives alive and eat up the clock. Watkins remains a viable deep-threat option, but one I see Johnson distracted with from utilizing Oz to the team’s betterment. Covey was a delightful surprise in game 3; however, outside of returns, I’m not expecting much from him as it relates to the passing game.
Sadly, the season started out with very little in the way of 3/4 WR sets in the first two games. And Brown’s recent proclivity to whine if he isn’t fed the ball reminds me of Keyshawn "Give Me the Damn Ball" Johnson. I hope he realizes that 3 are better than 2, and harder for defenses to remove his impact from the game if they have to account for more threats.
TE: Goedert / Stoll / Calcaterra / Okwuegbunam (a.k.a. Alphabet) (B+)
Goedert 2022 – Tgt: 16, Rec: 11, Yds: 168, Y/A: 15, TDs: 1, Fum: 0
Goedert 2023 – Tgt: 15, Rec: 11, Yds: 63, Y/A: 5.7, TDs: 0, Fum: 0
Goedart is arguably a top 5 TE in the league and Stoll’s reliability in pass/run blocking seems to set the standard. Calcaterra and Okwuegbunam both possess promise, but behind Goedert the group remains untested in carrying the load. There’s no question that Goedert couldn’t post numbers north of 850 yards and 10 TDs, if he isn’t overlooked by Johonson and Hurts in the redzone. His numbers starting out aren’t close to the production he displayed last year. There’s no reason that given the other talent on the field; this group should be more productive this year.
OLine: Kelce / Johnson / Mailata / Jurgens / Dickerson (A)
The BEST offensive line in the league! On paper, the only detractor against this group is Cam’s inexperience at right guard. You have two future Hall of Fame (HOF) players in Kelce and Johnson, and two massive Pro Bowl caliber players locking down the left side with Mailata and Dickerson. The average weight along the line is 324lbs, with the left side posting 697lbs between them. I know they’ve struggled gaining traction out the gate this year, but I account that to sitting out through the preseason (something I see Sirianni not repeating in the future). I don’t see this group failing to meet expectations moving forward. Depth shouldn’t be much of a concern, as Stoutland develops some of the best players in the league. However, some of the penalties need to be toned down.
Offensive Play Calling (C+)
I get it, we won the games. But everyone knows that the start of this year’s schedule is the easiest part of our season.
Game 1 (C-): We walked away with a win, but the weather helped us a lot in that game.
· After scoring two touchdowns in First Quarter, only one field goal after that in 3 quarters.
· Outside of Brown and Smith, no one was really utilized in the passing game.
· Swift and Penny were left out of any plans to move the ball on the ground.
· Goedert was forgotten entirely, even when wide open.
· An effective rotation that doesn’t advertise plays hasn’t materialized, clock management is subpar, and timeouts are not effectively utilized.
Game 2 (C): Homefield advantage helped. Vikings were clawing their way back in it. If they’d have had another drive, they would have put on another 7 points.
· Drives remain haphazard and inconsistent.
· Ground game again realizes heavily on only one element. (Swift: 28 carries / Scott: 5 / Penny: 3)
· Overemphasis on making up for Goedert overlook. Seven tgts, six recs, but for only 22 yards, really!
· Only WRs on the field seem to be Brown and Smith.
· Brown appears agitated on the sideline.
I’m sorry, but when it’s 2nd and 1 at the goal line, the "Tush Push" isn’t needed to get it done. Why jeopardize Hurts with an injury, when you still have two downs to punch it in. And we did that twice. No reason for that play unless it’s a 4th down, or we are trying to come from behind and keep a drive alive.
Game 3 (B+): This game brought the grade up.
· First three drives fail to reach the redzone.
· Swift and Gainwell are utilized effectively in a rotation, but Penny still overlooked.
· Oz shines in role to utilize the slot effectively.
· Overemphasis to appease Brown leads to 14 tgts, Smith with 5, Oz with 3, and Goedert with 7.
Things appear to be working themselves out, but it is taking to long to effectively implement elements of the roster into an effective offensive gameplan to make this offense the most lethal in the league. I’m hoping that things improve with the play calling, cause none of us want to see an end to the season where we aren’t holding up the Lombardi Trophy.