Early-season struggles have become the new norm for Doug Pederson’s Eagles

NFL: SEP 27 Bengals at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Philadelphia Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz (86) and Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz (11) walk off together after the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 27, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles offense is facing an identity crisis right now. Carson Wentz looks like a shadow of his former self, Doug Pederson’s coaching has been called into question, and injury bugs are ravaging their way through the group. The sky may look like it’s falling, but there’s a pattern here.

For whatever reason, the Eagles seem to face early-season problems every single year. While not to this extent, there is for whatever reason, a period of adjustment that Pederson seems reliant on. Ever since declaring the arrival of a new norm to a crowd of thousands celebrating a Super Bowl win, the only pattern formed has been one of irregularity.

A new norm for the Eagles

The Eagles were without Carson Wentz for their first two games and he returned early to defeat his old offensive coordinator, Frank Reich in week 3. But then things took a very weird turn.

A horrible overtime loss to Tennessee was the first in what would become a long line of games that cause hairlines to recede out of pure stress. It was followed by a narrow loss to the Vikings and an even more aggravating loss to the Panthers a couple of weeks later.

From the ‘sticks defense’ debacle against the Titans, to a totally unbalanced offense against the Vikes that saw Jay Ajayi lead the team in rushing with a whopping 29 yards (!!), this was just another start to the year where the ground game took a few weeks to settle in.

Don’t forget about the pre-Super Bowl Eagles

It happened in 2016, too. Wendell Smallwood had a breakout game against the Steelers in week 3, recording 79 yards, before not even receiving a carry in week 4.

2017 may well have been the Super Bowl season, but it took the team 4 weeks to find their first 100-yard rusher. These struggles aren’t new.

More of the same

Things looked terrible for 2 quarters in the 2019 season opener against Washington. Down 20 to nothing at the half, Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson would put on an offensive masterclass to pull the team back from humiliation, but the sweat wiped from their foreheads would return very quickly.

A pair of losses to Atlanta and Detroit still leave a sour taste in the mouths of fans, with both games being more than winnable. The Eagles left plenty of meat on the bone, with missed opportunities sticking out like a sore thumb. Whether it be sloppy turnovers, drops, or the play-calls themselves, the Eagles frankly deserved a 1-3 start.

2020

It’s not like this needs any explanation, but the Eagles are 0-2-1 largely due to the total collapse of their offense. Pederson refusing to deploy a run-heavy offense against a porus run defense is beyond confusing, to the point where it was Carson Wentz who opted to exploit it himself, putting up 65 rushing yards of his own.

Wentz has been atrocious through the opening 3 weeks, throwing 6 interceptions. He had thrown 21 in his last 40 games before the start of this season.

From a lack of production from names like J.J Arcega-Whiteside, injuries to players like DeSean Jackson, or some questionable game planning from Doug Pederson, or an abundance of offensive line errors, the offense is void of any real threat right now.

Moving forward

The Eagles have their work cut out for them. Facing a wounded Niners could be an opportunity for their ‘2019 Packers game’, but it could also put the nail in the coffin of a wasted season. After that, they face vaunted defenses in the way of Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The road gets a lot tougher before it gets easier.

It might be slightly reassuring to know that the Eagles have been here before in each season under Doug Pederson without fail, and even mores o that the NFC East is a trainwreck…but that doesn’t mean they’ll luck out of a truly horrifying start to the season and save their 2020 playoff hopes.

The new norm for this Eagles team has absolutely been punching themselves in the face until they have enough pain to turn into firepower and force their way into contention. The question now is ‘Have they absorbed one blow too many?’

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

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