So before I begin slashing into my favorite pro football team, let’s start first with listing people that are NOT to blame for the Eagles’ brutal start this season.
Carson Wentz. Wentz has literally done everything in his power to put this team into positions to win football games. Outside of the first half in Week One, he’s looked every bit his 2017 self. It’s simply not his fault his teammates can’t catch, can’t hold onto the football, can’t cover, or can’t record sacks. Next.
Through three games, Carson Wentz actually has a higher passer rating than he did to start the 2017 season. #Eagles
— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) September 23, 2019
Jordan Howard. Howard’s carries have been cut in half since joining Philly, and for seemingly no good reason. When minimally given chances he’s produced, averaging 4 yards per carry and 33 extra yards after contact. He’s running hard just like we all expected, feed him.
Zach Ertz and Malcolm Jenkins. Both have looked just as dominant as usual, their consistency remains a small bright spot on this team.
Now that we have all of that cleared up, let’s move on to who we should actually be blaming. After back-to-back losses to the Falcons and Lions (not good football teams!), there’s obviously a ton of blame to be thrown around. With that said, I’m going to try and narrow this down to three specific groups. (If you want to go a little more in depth on certain players that deserve criticism, check out @JoePopBrand’s story: “The Eagles Sh*t List“, after you finish reading mine of course).
Alshon Jeffery has missed two games due to injury. Desean Jackson has also missed two games due to injury. Nelson Agholor has dropped multiple passes including a game-winning TD against Atlanta. Dallas Goedert missed a game and dropped a wide open TD against Detroit. Mack Hollins is an offensive pass interference machine. JJ Arcega-Whiteside has 2 receptions on 7 targets, while ALSO managing to drop a game-winning TD against the Lions.
That was a mouthful. Wentz’ “weapons” in the passing game have been an abomination. Injuries happen, but “calf tightness” in Week 2 normally points toward a lack of proper preparation. While backups, guys like Hollins and JJ are being paid millions to just catch the ball. The team would be 3-0 easily if our receivers could perform their job at even an average level.
Carson Wentz had more tackles on Sunday (2) than Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Hasaan Ridegway, and Josh Sweat combined. The Eagles have just 2 sacks on the season, with one coming from backup safety Andrew Sendejo. Football Outsiders currently has Philadelphia ranked as the second worst pass rush in the ENTIRE NFL.
I could go on and on, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the Eagles defensive line has massively underperformed this season. The birds had a ton of confidence in their d-line coming into the 2019 season, they moved on from Chris Long and Michael Bennett, and didn’t sell the farm to acquire a star like Jadeveon Clowney. Howie/Doug felt their mix of veterans and young guys were enough to remain a top pass rushing defense in the league, through 3 week, they were seemingly wrong.
Eagles pass rush has become a critical problem
— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) September 22, 2019
Medical staff, coaching staff, and management staff, they all get a fat portion of blame here. The problems with our training/medical staff is pretty obvious and I don’t need to spend time rambling about it (just stop getting hurt guys!). However the coaches and front office do deserve my attention here, normally Dougie P and Howie Roseman are immune from my criticism, not this time.
Howie Roseman is known for being a ruthless GM, removing cap hits left and right, crushing teams in trade negotiations, and nailing his free agent signings. Normally whatever Howie decides is the truth for me, hard for me to argue with a guy who built a SB caliber roster seemingly overnight. However, there appears to be a whole list of decisions he’s made this year that haven’t panned out…
Re-signing Ronald Darby. He just stinks.
Drafting Miles Sanders and JJAW. I still believe in these guys, it’d be insane to write off a player 3 games into their career. BUT, we’re trying to win a Super Bowl, now is not the time to be developing young dudes. Would’ve preferred talent who could legitimately contribute now. These two haven’t just been bad, they’ve cost us a win.
Not Addressing the Pass Rush: This goes hand in hand with my second point. While it’s easy to point fingers at Curry, Sweat, BG, and Barnett, they’ve all never been known as insane pass rushers. There was an elite-level edge rusher available this offseason, and Howie passed on him.
Jalen Ramsey: If the Eagles were serious about winning a Super Bowl this year, Ramsey would’ve been on the roster before the weekend. He’s obviously still out there, go get him Howie.
Doug Pederson can only work with what’s given to him, it’s not his fault guys keep dropping the football right now. With that said, he himself is metaphorically “dropping the ball” with his play-calling. Two weeks in a row to start the season the Eagles looked lost in the first half. In Week 3 they managed to score early, but still overall struggled against an average Lions’ defense. Nothing looks easy for Wentz and the offense, Doug needs to do a better job simplifying things, utilizing plays that lead to easy scores once in awhile. He can start by naming Howard the RB1 and riding him for the rest of the season.
Look it’s only been three games, the possibility for Philly to turn this thing around is still realistic. With that said, the Eagles have dug themselves a hole, and it’s going to be quite a climb back out…
-David Esser via Philly Sports Insider
~stats via pro-football-reference.com, footballoutsiders.com, NFL.com~
~images via @EaglesFanProbs and The Philadelphia Inquirer~