The Eagles offense is as unproductive as it ever has been. It doesn’t matter where you look or what metric you use, the bottom line is that drives are not being sustained, points are not being scored and these longed for ‘hot start’s are so cold that you could find them in the frozen aisle at your local store. Naturally, all fingers are slowly turning to offensive coordinator, but for the completely wrong reasons.
During a press conference today, the former wide receiver’s coach was asked about the process of getting Golden Tate acclimated with the offense and his response was condensed and shared on social media with the basic premise being that it’s ‘challenging’. This sparked outrage among Eagles fans who were right to question the brutal honesty, given the nature of his job is to overcome those hurdles. But the full quote paints a slightly different picture:
“I don’t know if it’s been more difficult, but it’s been challenging to integrate him.” Groh said. “Certainly, with the way that we weren’t able to stay on the field the other day and finding your rhythm to the offense, that part of it, then everything becomes a little bit disjointed. If we can do a better job of staying on the field and having drives, then everybody gets more involved in the offense.”
Imagine running a restaurant that serves seafood and having two chefs who specialize in sushi. Your boss then brings in a third and you have to rota three full-time members of staff for the next few weeks, on top of training the new chef and working out who works the busy hours etc. It’s not exactly a walk in the park.
It seems like there is some weird ‘smear campaign’ recently.
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 20, 2018
Well, that’s lovely. But are we forgetting that prior to his lone season in LA as a WR coach, where Kenny Britt amassed 1,000 yards in a single season for the first time in his career, Groh spent time with the Chicago Bears and New York Jets. Working with Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, Groh rapidly grew a reputation as one of the best in his profession. He was one of the most widely respected positional coaches in the league prior to this promotion and while it may have come prematurely, the Eagles had no choice due to the Colts saga that saw Reich poached at the last second after their first hire fell through.
Are we also going to forget the fact he played a huge role in the resurgence of Nelson Agholor, a name many were quick to label a bust after battling drops and personal demons before Groh’s culture change elevated his game?
One huge question that Eagles fans continued to ask after Sunday (which I addressed in a a huge rant in yesterday’s episode of ‘The Outside Insider‘) was where exactly is Golden Tate factoring in this offense after being invisible against the Saints? The answer is simple. He led the team in receiving yards and was targeted 8 times, the same amount as Ertz and Jeffery combined. Tate is seeing the field and he’s producing. The problem is, the rest of the offense isn’t…and that’s where Groh should be catching heat.
The Eagles inability to balance the offense is almost as worrying as their communication issues. On numerous occasions in Sunday’s loss, the Eagles had the incorrect number of players on the field. One of these instances resulted in a wasted timeout while another left Jordan Matthews screaming at Nelson Agholor.
“I’ll take responsibility for that.” Groh said. “It should not happen. We have a new guy [WR Golden Tate] and we’re trying to introduce some different personnel groups, but, again, ultimately that’s my responsibility to make sure the communication is clean on that.”
And there lies the issue. Too many Chefs in the Kitchen are causing the new boss headaches, it seems. Groh also cited that the ‘roles’ for both Nelson Agholor and Golden Tate have changed. He’s not wrong, either. Jordan Matthews has seemingly taken on the WR2 role and become a third down conversion machine, while Tate and Agholor are left to fight it out for slot snaps. Groh also touched on this on Tuesday.
“We haven’t done a good job with it in the last two weeks, or good enough, to get the results that we want. Obviously when Golden is in, Nelson may be doing something different than what he was being asked to do before. In some cases, he’s doing the same thing. It’s just trying to fit those pieces together.”
I don’t see how this is a bad thing. On one hand, you have Nelson Agholor, whom the team exercised a fifth-year option on entering this season, making this year absolutely critical for setting up his future. So far, that hasn’t gone to plan, with Agholor’s stunning breakout season now something of a distant memory. His 455 yards have been key for the Eagles offense, but he is mainly being used on much shorter routes and far less down the field as a deep-threat, something the Birds crave.
Unable to fill that deep-threat void, the decision to bring in Tate ticks numerous boxes. Tate’s ability to dominate after the catch means he can run the same routes as Agholor, giving some debatably higher upside due to what he can do with the ball in his hands. Like Agholor, his future is also uncertain as Tate is in his contract year. If he can settle into Philadelphia, it gives the Eagles first dibs at keeping a more productive slot receiver who fits a more condensed style of offense for a cheaper price. If you take one player’s snap count and divide it in half, the production will either follow suit and help the Eagles front office negotiate a cheaper deal, or increase and show the Eagles the real value, one way or the other.
But that aside, there are other things to worry about. Carson Wentz, as demonstrated below, is seemingly getting increasingly frustrated with the offensive deficiencies and as a result, is letting rookie habits creep their way back into his play. From footwork and mechanics to decision-making that saw him toss three interceptions for just the second time in his career, as a former quarterback himself, this is where Groh’s presence has to be felt.
Then, as we mentioned earlier, there’s everything else. The fact that this Eagles team haven had four consecutive games without a running back having ten carries, which is the first time in franchise history this has happened. The Eagles ran the ball on the opening drive and didn’t touch run it again until the team were down 17-0 against the Saints. That in itself simply isn’t good enough, but if there isn’t success running the ball (which outside of Josh Adams there REALLY hasn’t been), why wouldn’t they utilize short passes to compensate for it?
The offensive line is banged up and is leaking pressure at an alarming rate, just as it has been all year. Receivers are now dropping passes and struggling to gain separation and the quarterback is trying to do too much with the ball out of sheer frustration at the situation. The fact it’s gotten to this point is why Mike Groh should be coming under fire, not because he’s been tasked with implementing a slot receiver into a receiver group now consisting of 3 (which he’s actually doing).
There is simply too much wrong with this offense for it not to reflect poorly on the Eagles offensive coordinator. There are a million reasons fans should be frustrated at the offensive output from the defending Super Bowl champions, but the Golden Tate situation isn’t one of them.
Golden Tate can’t single handedly save this offense. Mike Groh might be the only man that can.
If he can’t, there will be a swift wind blowing through the City of Brotherly Love.
Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports