Yesterday’s game against the Jaguars marked the first time all season that Wentz looked like the MVP he was last season, in all facets of the game. In particularly, his willingness to make plays with his legs.
Up until yesterday it seemed like Wentz was trying to shy away from running with the football. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I think we can all agree that if Wentz would have tried to run with it himself at the end of the Carolina game last week, we probably would’ve won that game.
He finished yesterday as the Birds’ second leading rusher with 28 yards on six attempts. None of them were designed runs either, they were all scrambles that Wentz did himself. He was great at protecting himself as well which is a huge step for someone like Wentz, who is wired to do anything he can to get that extra yard. He slid and did what he had to to avoid big hits, which was a relief to all of us.
He was able to bounce back after a terrible start as well which was great to see. It shows just how mentally tough this kid really is. Not many QBs would bounce back to have an outstanding game after having such a terrible first quarter like Wentz did. He turned it over on the first two drives of the game; one sack fumble, and one terribly thrown pass in the end zone that ended up being picked by Jalen Ramsey.
After that rough start, Wentz finished the game with 286 yards, three touchdowns, and a 70% completion percentage on 30 attempts.
If you had any doubts about Wentz going into yesterday’s game, he proved to everyone why he’s one of the best QBs in the league after his performance.
Unless the Eagles make a move to bring in a starting caliber running back, there’s no doubt in my mind that Josh Adams should be the lead back moving forward. Even though he’s just a rookie, he already seems like the best pure runner on the roster. He has the speed to get to the edge, the size to take on hits and move the pile, and he has the vision/patience to wait for the hole to develop and hit it when it’s open.
He was the leading rusher for the Eagles yesterday with 61 yards on nine carries (6.8 yards per carry). Smallwood had 24 yards on eight carries (3 yards per carry) and Clement had just six yards on four carries (1.5 yards per carry). That just doesn’t cut it. Both Clement and Smallwood have struggled this season to be consistent carrying the ball between the tackles, and that’s where Adams shines. Adams is also faster in the open field than both Clement and Smallwood.
He should get an increased role throughout the rest of the season, and Smallwood and Clement will likely be delegated to catching the ball out of the backfield.
That’s a question that I don’t think anyone outside of the organization can really answer. Because from what we see on Sundays, it looks like he’s the best option we have to fill in for Sidney Jones while he’s injured. But instead of doing that, the organization felt that Dexter McDougle (who was on the couch just a few weeks ago) is a better option than Douglas. I truly do not understand it.
McDougle has done little to nothing since he’s had to fill in at nickel corner. There was one play yesterday on a pivotal third down late in the game where McDougle straight up just tripped and fell while he was running to make the tackle and prevented Bradham from making the tackle in the process. It was ugly.
There must be something going on with Douglas that us fans just don’t see. He seems to play adequate every time he steps on the field, and he’s been in the system much longer than McDougle has. Maybe he hasn’t fully grasped the defensive schemes, or maybe the coaching staff just doesn’t have confidence in him. None of us truly know.
For the first time all season Doug called a pretty balanced game offensively. He called 30 passes to 22 runs. The team technically had 28 total rushing attempts, but six of those were Wentz scrambles, so they weren’t called runs in the huddle.
I appreciate the balance, and I think this matchup against the Jaguars’ defense called for a balanced attack.
What still concerns me though, is the creativity in the play design and play calling. There are some plays that Doug has continuously called this season that just haven’t worked, most notably the misdirection screen to a running back and the quick screen to Agholor.
The misdirection screen to the running back sounds great in theory: you get the whole defense moving one way with the fake sweep and then dump it off to the running back on the opposite side with two to three lineman leading the way for him. But whenever this play is run in a game, it seems to always get blown up before it gets a chance to develop. It happened again yesterday, and thankfully Doug didn’t call it again for the rest of the game. To me, a normal running back screen works just fine in that situation. The key is to just call the screen when the defense is least expecting it. We saw Doug do this on the Smallwood touchdown, and I hope he continues to use this type of screen rather than the misdirection one.
The other play we’ve seen called week in and week out is the quick wide receiver screen to Nelson Agholor. I understand the concept of running this play: Agholor is the best wideout on the team with the ball in his hands. You’re going to want to get a guy like him the ball in a variety of different ways. But, this quick screen just hasn’t been working and I think it’s time for Doug to stop calling it.
These two plays are starting to become Doug’s version of the infamous half back swing pass that Chip used to love back when he was the coach.
Doug has struggled to capture what made the offense so potent last season. That could be for a variety of reasons, but above all else I believe the loss of both Frank Reich and John DeFilippo are the biggest contributors.
There were three distinct aspects that defined the Eagles offense last season: Aggressiveness, Balance and Creativity. Balance and creativity were Reich and DeFilippo’s strong suits and those traits just seem non-existent this season. The aggressiveness is clearly still there, and that’s what Doug has become known for.
The Jaguars game was the best game Doug has called all season, so hopefully he continues to improve as the season progresses.