I’m going to preface this by saying the season is far from over. But, there needs to be some serious changes moving forward if the Eagles want to make another deep playoff run. There’s something off about this team; and it’s not just one or two players who aren’t performing up to their ability, almost the entire team is struggling to recapture that fire that drove them to a championship last year. There are a lot of factors that could be playing into this, but one word that keeps coming to mind for me is complacency.
I truly thought at the beginning of this year that this team still believed they had something to prove this season. But so far, I just haven’t seen that mentality on the field whatsoever. Players who played at an all pro level last season have become a shell of themselves this season. The only player who seemed to pick up where he left off last season is Zach Ertz, who’s leading all tight ends in receptions. But other than that, no one has played up to their ability.
Did we just peak last season? Was it all just an aberration and is this really how good this team is? I don’t think this is the case. No team has a “fluke” season and somehow manages to knock off one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.
It’s just about finding that rhythm and confidence that they had last season. Maybe taking the ball to start the game rather than deferring to the second half could help. Getting off to a fast start was the norm last season, and now it just seems like they’re trying to play catch up the entire game. Even when we’re not actually playing catch up, it still feels like Doug is calling the game that way. I understand that he has an ultra-aggressive mind set when it comes to play calling, but he needs to find that happy medium that made him look like an offensive genius last season.
It’s starting to become abundantly clear that both Frank Reich and John DeFilippo had a larger impact on the play calling last season than we may have initially thought. Since Wentz’s return in week 3, Doug has called 98 pass plays to just 32 runs. So, on just about 75% of the offensive snaps, Doug is calling a pass play. That’s unacceptable. If the Eagles were down early in these games, then I could understand that type of lopsided play calling, but that hasn’t been the case.
Against the Titans two weeks ago, the Eagles had a 14-point lead in the third quarter. Instead of balancing out the offensive attack, Doug continued to throw the ball, and the Eagles ended up blowing their lead and losing the game. There’s just no explanation or justification for it.
The offensive line continues to struggle in pass protection as well, and a quick remedy for that would be to run the ball more. Still, Doug has neglected the run game. Really, every offensive struggle that we’ve seen this team have so far this season can be chalked up to the unbalanced play calling.
Per Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia, over the last 4 weeks the Eagles are 10th in the NFL in yards per game (397 YPG) but they’re only 22nd in points per game (21.3 PPG). So clearly, the offense has been able to move the ball, they just haven’t been able to get it into the end zone. DeFilippo was the red zone coordinator last season, his red zone play design was creative and it seemed like every time they got inside their opponents’ 20-yard line last season they we’re getting in the end zone. That type of efficiency is missing this season, and not having DeFilippo is the direct cause of that.
Aside from the red zone offense, the offense hasn’t been very efficient in general this season. Per Reuben Frank again, the Eagles are the fifth team in NFL history with four straight games of 350 or more yards and 23 or fewer points. For how explosive the offense was last season, that stat is jarring to say the least. The Eagles haven’t scored more than 23 points this season. Even in 2016 with a rookie Carson Wentz, the offense did not struggle like they have this season.
Something’s got to give, and to me, I chalk up almost all the offensive struggles to Doug’s poor play calling. Once he becomes more balanced, the offense will thrive, I firmly believe that.
The most frustrating part about the offense, and really the entire team in general, is that we’ve seen this team play at an elite level. They all have the ability, they just can’t seem to put it all together right now.
That’s on Doug, and the entire coaching staff for that matter. It’s up to them to get this team prepared and ready to play every week. So far this season, I just haven’t seen it. The Super Bowl hangover is a very real thing, and right now it’s taking its toll on the Birds.
It’s up to Doug and the leaders in the locker room to right this ship and get this season moving in the right direction again. Because right now, whether we want to believe or not, this isn’t a Super Bowl team, and they have a lot of work to do if they want to get this city to believe that they are again.