Well, here we are a quarter of the way through the season and I’m not sure if anyone knows what to make of it so far. The Eagles sit at 2-2, and they easily could have been 0-4 if a few plays didn’t go their way. I wouldn’t say it’s time to panic as an Eagles fan, but there’s definitely cause for concern.
Yesterday’s game may have been the worst loss Doug Pederson has had in his 3 years as the Eagles head coach. I can’t remember the last time we saw a second half collapse like the one we witnessed yesterday against the Titans. The coaches, the players, everyone should be embarrassed by their performance. It was one of those rare games where there was really nothing positive to take away from it. Here’s a few observations from it:
- Is the loss of Reich and DeFilippo effecting Doug Pederson’s play calling?
This was a concern amongst some fans heading into this season, but I had confidence that Doug would still be the same Doug we grew to love last season. Well, so far it just seems like something’s off with the offense this year. A lot of fans, including myself, thought that once Wentz came back to the starting lineup that the offense would pick up right where it left off last season. This hasn’t happened at all, and it all comes down to play calling and game planning.
Frank Reich was pivotal to game planning throughout the week last season and DeFilippo was basically the red zone coordinator for the offense. Both of these aspects for the Eagles offense have diminished this season and it may very well be because those coaches are no longer on the staff. Arguably the biggest strength of last year’s team was the stellar coaching staff and now it seems like it’s all on Doug, and right now it doesn’t look like he can handle it.
It just seems like he’s lost his way a bit; the offense isn’t as balanced, the aggressiveness isn’t there like it was last year, and the overall offense just doesn’t seem as creative or explosive as it did last year. These are all correctable issues though, and having Alshon back should help with the explosiveness.
At the end of the day, these kinds of losses fall squarely on the shoulders of the coaches. I’m sure Doug realizes that, and I’m sure he’s going to adjust accordingly.
- What is going on with the offensive line?
If you would’ve told me before the season that the offensive line would have been our biggest offensive liability through the first four weeks of the season I probably would have laughed at you and never talked to you again.
But in reality, the offensive line has been just that; a huge liability.
The focal point of the entire offense last season was the offensive line. They dominated opposing defenses last season and dictated the pace of the game. Now, the complete opposites happening and I’m truly dumbfounded by it.
The Birds have at least three all pro caliber lineman along that front and they still can’t seem to keep Carson Wentz upright. It’s not even that teams are out scheming the Eagles and putting them in bad situations, some of the lineman are just getting beat at the point of attack. I still think Lane Johnson is the best right tackle in football, but he has really under performed this season so far. The same can be said about Jason Kelce, and Jason Peters for that matter.
They got exposed badly against the Colts and former offensive coordinator, Frank Reich, and I think that played into their struggles this week against the Titans. Reich knows the ins and outs of the Eagles offense more than any other coach in the league that’s not currently on the Eagles’ staff. Obviously, the offense isn’t exactly the same as it was last season, but I’m sure most of the protections and calls along the offensive line are the same for the most part.
Reich knew how to get to Wentz, and the Titans clearly came in with a similar defensive game plan. The formula on how to beat the Eagles offensive line is now on tape, so it’s up to the offensive coaches and personnel to make the necessary adjustments.
Like Doug’s coaching, this is fixable, and the Eagles clearly have the personnel to patch up their mistakes and move forward.
- Nelson Agholor needs to step it up.
I really hope Agholor isn’t regressing this season, but so far through four games it’s hard to argue that he’s not.
So far he has 25 catches for 167 yards and one touchdown with a measly 6.7 yards per catch average. He has to be better, especially with the injuries to Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins.
Alshon coming back should have given Agholor more open looks, and it did, but Agholor wasn’t able to seize any of those opportunities. He had three total drops yesterday, all of which were fairly easy catches. That makes seven total drops on the season, which should be a huge cause for concern especially when you consider his history with drops.
The last time he had a game this bad he was benched the following week. I don’t know if Doug will go that far this time, but something has to be done before the drops start becoming a huge problem again.
- The secondary is becoming a huge liability.
Easily, the ugliest part of yesterday’s game was the play of the Eagles secondary. We all knew there would be a slight adjustment with McLeod out of the lineup; but my goodness, how do you allow Marcus Mariota to carve up your secondary like that? It’s inexcusable.
Not only did Mariota throw for 344 yards and two touchdowns, he converted on three 4th downs in overtime, eventually scoring the game winning touchdown in the process.
Through the first four games, the Eagles have allowed 1,161 passing yards, good for 2nd most in team history through four weeks. Something needs to change.
Both Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby have played terribly this season, and that’s not debatable. Mills has really been a liability on the outside since the day he was drafted, but the success of the team has masked a lot of his inefficiencies. Now that the team’s struggling, his poor play is coming to forefront and it needs to be addressed immediately.
It may be too late in the season for this, but I would consider moving Mills to safety and allowing Sidney Jones to play on the outside with either Rasul Douglas or Avonte Maddox at the nickel. Mills’ natural position is safety, so I don’t think a position change would be that big of an adjustment. And I think Jones has played well enough this season to get the opportunity to compete on the outside. Douglas, in my opinion, is too good to not have on the field so allowing him to play the nickel would only benefit the defense.
I’m not sure what Jim Schwartz and company are going to do to fix this situation, but something needs to get done ASAP.