The Eagles aren’t exactly flooding fans with reasons to be confident right now. Injuries are beginning to rear their ugly heads once more and although it seems optimistic that players such as Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson will return soon, it might not be soon enough.
It’s safe to say that since losing their starting two wideouts, two of the better pass-catchers in the NFL, the Birds’ have struggled offensively. Mack Hollins has been at fault on several occasions drawing offensive pass interference and the team combined to drop 7 passes in Sunday’s 3 point loss to Detroit. Second-round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside has two receptions in as many games and at this stage, there isn’t physically much more Carson Wentz can do.
The bad news is, regardless of who is and who isn’t healthy, this is a team struggling with basics and discipline…and the road isn’t exactly going to get any easier over the next month or so.
To kick things off, the Eagles are on a short week. They travel to Wisconsin to face Green Bay. Lambeau may not be the biggest home-field advantage in the NFL, but it’s up there. Making things worse is the fact that the Eagles are coming off of a tough loss, are on the road again just heartbeats after and will face off against Aaron Rodgers, an aggressive defense that’s holding QB’s to under 200 yards per game, and the team’s 3-0 record. A win is anything but guaranteed here.
The Jets, whom the team face one week later, may present a slightly easier challenge, but then that game becomes a must-win. New York will be hoping to have Sam Darnold back in the fold and stuck around against the Patriots, showing some defensive resilience. This is the most winnable of these four games, but Washington and Detroit were hardly the toughest opposition they’ll face this year either.
One week later, it’s a trip to Minnesota. This game is rapidly becoming a rivalry grudge match, but there is every chance that the Vikings come out seeking revenge. Dalvin Cook has lifted them to a 2-1 record, cutting through everyone in his way and that doesn’t bode well for an Eagles defense lacking two starting defensive tackles.
If that wasn’t bad enough, how do games against Dallas, Buffalo and Chicago sound? Zeke Elliott + the Bills defense and John Brown on offense x a diverse rushing attack and the Bears stout run defense against a team who can’t find a rushing identity?
The good news is (yes, there is some) that the Eagles have been in similar spots before. Decimated by injury, high stakes, tough opposition – it’s almost become the formula for this team to thrive. The downside is that the sense of urgency was naturally greater given the timing of each of the last two major late-season runs. This time around, if the Eagles can’t get going quickly, there won’t be a run to go on.
But given how close the last two losses have been and how much the Eagles have shot themselves in the foot, the Eagles Head Coach sees hope.
“We can totally relate to our circumstances the last couple of seasons.” Doug Pederson said. “But the one thing I think that for me as the head coach that stands out in these last couple of games are just the self-inflicting wounds. The turnovers, the penalties, things that have cost us yards or cost us points in obviously these two games.”
“So if we just eliminate that, take the injury aside, we have a chance to win both football games. [If] we just make the plays that are, that kind of come our way, make those plays, then maybe we’re talking a different story. So I can draw a little bit on the injury front from the last couple of seasons, but honestly, that’s not what’s keeping us from winning these two games.”
The Eagles aren’t losing to teams. They’re beating themselves and putting the game on a silver platter for the opposition. That simply has to change between now and November. Whether it’s injuries, focus, confidence, execution, or any other factor imaginable. Things have to tighten up…and they have to tighten up fast.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports