Eagles: One issue no one’s discussing

From Carson Wentz’s woes, the abysmal play calling to inconsistent performances from the defense, there are a plethora of issues with this Eagles team right now. But one major issue that seems to be getting lost in this mess, is the coaching staff’s struggles at developing young talent.

Howie Roseman hasn’t exactly given them a lot of talent to work with, but there are a handful of players around the league, who were on the Eagles roster, who are now contributing for other teams. Rasul Douglas, L.J. Fort and Davante Bausby are all playing well in their new homes, yet they could barely find the field in Philly.

Let’s start with Rasul since he’s the most recent release. According to Pro Football Focus, Douglas is the 10th-highest rated cornerback in football through three weeks. In 117 coverage snaps, Douglas has allowed just 10 completions, just 5.8 yards per target and quarterbacks have posted a 78.4 QB rating when targeting him.

Compare that to his averages in Philly and it’s a night and day difference. When quarterbacks targeted him in 2018 and 2019, they posted a 106.3 QB rating and Douglas allowed 10 total touchdowns over those two years.

Here’s a quote from PFF on Douglas’s play so far in 2020:

“Douglas has been one of the stingiest cornerbacks in the NFL in his first three games with the Carolina Panthers. Among 90 qualifying cornerbacks to play at least 60 coverage snaps, Douglas ranks third in yards per coverage snap allowed (0.60). Douglas has allowed under 35 yards in coverage in each of his three games played, which makes him just one of four cornerbacks in the NFL to accomplish such a feat this season.”

Three games is a small sample size, but he never came close to that kind of production when he was in midnight green.

You see a similar story with Fort and Bausby. Fort is a stellar linebacker — a position the Eagles desperately need help at — for the Baltimore Ravens right now. He currently has a 90.1 run defense grade on PFF. Bausby currently has a 75.7 overall grade and a 76.4 grade in coverage, per PFF.

Avonte Maddox currently has a 45.1 overall grade and a 47 grade in coverage according to PFF. Quarterbacks have a 122 QB rating when targeting Maddox and they’ve completed 73.7% of their passes against him. Nate Gerry currently has an overall grade of 45.1 and a coverage grade of 33, the thing he’s supposed to be good at, per PFF.

Douglas, Fort and Bausby could all be starting for this team right now, but none of us thought they’d amount to anything when they were in Philly. Part of that comes down to scheme fit, and it’s pretty clear they don’t fit Jim Schwartz’s defensive ideology. It’s understandable to move on from guys who simply don’t fit what you want to do, but Schwartz’s defense has never been elite in Philly.

His defense has actually posted solid numbers so far this season, boasting the 5th-best defense in terms of total yards allowed per game. They’re 7th in passing yardage allowed and 8th in rushing yards allowed, but they’re 11th-worst in points allowed. The only other year Schwartz had a top-10 defense was in 2017.

Obviously, Schwartz’s defense isn’t even close to the biggest issue with this team right now. Which is why not many people are discussing it. Wentz and the offense are far more problematic at this point.

It’s just frustrating to watch players leave Philly and go one to have productive stints elsewhere. But the inability to develop talent isn’t exclusive to Schwartz’s defense, we’ve seen it with Doug Pederson and his offense as well. Carson Wentz is the prime example of this.

He’s regressed tremendously. And while some of it obviously falls on him, some of it also falls on the shoulders of this coaching staff, who seem just as lost as Wentz does.

We’ve all discussed what kind of impact Frank Reich had when he was the offensive coordinator in Philly, and with each passing year, it becomes more clear that he was the engine that kept this offense going. Just take this quote from Nick Foles when discussing his relationship with Reich during their time together in Philly.

Key line: “He was the one who really figured me out as a player.” I don’t think that’s something Foles would just pull out of his ass, there’s certainly truth to it.

Maybe Doug and his coaching staff just aren’t good at identifying how to get the most out of Wentz? Or is Wentz just completely uncoachable? It’s impossible to say for sure at this point.

The bottom line is this coaching staff as whole has not been great at developing their players. They’ve had to rely on veterans, wo were already developed somewhere else, to come in and keep this team afloat for the past few seasons.

Like I said, there are a lot of issues with this team. But if these coaches are unable to develop their guys and figure out ways to put them in positions to succeed, they’ll need to have a shakeup this offseason. In the middle of a youth movement, the last thing we can afford is a coaching staff that’ll waste some of the young talent at their disposal.

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