The Eagles haven’t exactly had the greatest start to their first ever title defending season. Sitting at 3-4 coming into this weekend, there have been a flurry of injuries, misfires and collapses across the board and it’s safe to say that no one area is to blame for everything. There is one area however that if catches fire this weekend, could turn the tide of a game.
The Eagles offense is averaging 22 points per game which is a worrying decline from last season. What’s more worrying is that the Eagles have had just 13 plays of over 25 yards this season. The offense has taken. while to get clicking and there are many different attributes that factor into this, but the truth is simple. The Birds aren’t spreading the ball around and they’re not finding success down the field.
Take Nelson Agholor for instance, a player who last year broke out, earning the adoration of fans everywhere by posting 768 yards, 8 touchdowns and a stunning 12.5 yards per reception. That number sits at 8.5 this season, with Agholor being oddly used as a gadget player more and more frequently.
“He is a guy that we know is a playmaker for us and we love his talent and his ability and what he brings to this offense.” Offensive coordinator Miek Groh told reporters this week. :Got to continue to try to find ways to get him the ball down the field.”
That need for big plays could be greater than ever. Coming into this game, the Jaguars defense is lacking an identity. It’s lead vocalist remains shaken and reluctant to say a word while miscommunication issues have cost them deadly touchdowns. However, they remain one of the league’s elite defenses and give up just 179 passing yards per game…which to an offense that has been inconsistent in moving the ball, doesn’t bode well.
But, there is a catch. There will be no A.J Bouye on Sunday and there will be no nickel corner Tyler Patmon. D.J Hayden is also questionable.
Jalen Ramsey is going to have the weight of the world on his shoulders but he cannot cover everyone, as much as he would like to disagree. If he’s shadowing Alshon Jeffery, it hypothetically leaves the alarms ringing for Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor and a speedster like Shelton Gibson. Let’s not forget red-zone monster Dallas Goedert or a flurry of running back options.
The Eagles have almost been confined in recent weeks to targeting solely Ertz and Jeffery, resulting in the duo amassing 22 targets against the Panthers while the rest of the team combined for 16. If they can work out the kinks and have confidence spreading the ball around, the Jags Defense could be on its heels early.
“We talked about it earlier in this session, we like to spread the ball around and we have to be able to do that against this defense. Their reputation precedes them.” Groh continued. “They have an excellent secondary, they’re strong up front, put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. We have to be able to get the ball out of our hand and spread the ball around and find favorable matchups. We have good players in that huddle and we are confident about their ability to show up on Sunday and make plays.”
The Jags have almost become London’s default home team and if the atmosphere favors the Jacksonville team, then this will have even more importance. If the Eagles can strike early and often, silencing the crowd and ensuring that the defense is playing off the back-foot, it will do a struggling Eagles defense the world of good as they seek to dominate also. This is a big game for the Eagles but the offense has to step up and support the defense and vice versa.
Compartmentalized in recent weeks and ripped to their bare bones because of it, this has to be the game where Carson Wentz rips out the jugular vein of a defense. If the team can hit their stride early, from there it simply becomes a case of ensuring they do not stop pounding away, never taking their foot off the gas. This is the game the offense has to explode into life, or it may never do so this season.
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