So now that the Eagles are back from their bye, the team is heading into a critical stretch that could define their season. As the team makes its final preparations for their second game against the Giants, it’s time to take a look at which position groups are progressing coming out of the bye, and which are regressing.
Eagles Trending up
The group has seen its fair share of injuries this season. It started with DeSean Jackson going down early, as well as Jalen Reagor, and the ghost of Alshon Jeffery haunting the sidelines of the Linc.
Although the group has suffered, it led to the discovery of Travis Fulgham, who has gone from practice squad tenant to possibly the number one receiver. In just 5 games, Fulgham has tallied 435 receiving yards on 29 receptions for 4 touchdowns. That puts him on pace for 75 receptions, 1,131 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns in which case he’d be the teams’ first 1K yard receiver since Jeremy Maclin.
John Hightower has also been a nice surprise as it seems the team has found their deep threat in the long run but his inconsistency at catching the ball has overshadowed his big play ability.
Now the group seems to be heading in the right direction as Jalen Reagor is back to full health and Alshon Jeffery will make his season debut against the Giants after not seeing the field since last December. The Eagles have the right tools around Carson to go on a run but chemistry and consistency will be key. Leep your eyes on this group as they look to finally change the fortunes of a position that has plagued the franchise for several seasons.
The defensive line has been doing great this season. After the firing of former D-Line coach Phillip Daniels, many were skeptical about the hiring of Matt Burke. The former defensive coordinator may have found his niche with this group because they have been doing damage to opposing offensive lines.
The Eagles are third in the league in sacks with 28 for the season. Brandon Graham has been leading the group at the age of 32 years old. He’s having a career year with 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 9 tackles for loss, and 11 QB hits. He has yet to break double digits in his career but it looks like he’ll accomplish that this season as long as he stays healthy.
The scary thought about this line is that we are yet to have a coming-out party for Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. While Cox’s impact is more than what fills up the stat sheet, the expectation for him is greater than that, especially when you’re being paid over $20 million a season. Hargrave has yet to find his footing with this new scheme but when he does, this defensive line could be a big difference-maker down the stretch for the Eagles.
Eagles Trending down
Offensive coaching staff
The offense has suffered from bland play-calling from the sidelines and poor QB play all season. Wentz has yet to put a complete game together without a turnover. It seems as if the play-calling just doesn’t fit this offense.
In 2017, the playbook revolved around the players that were on the field but in 2020 it seems like the playbook is just the playbook, whether the players fit it or not. That’s a big problem in my opinion and there’s a huge need for change, especially when there’s a panel of offensive minds behind it.
The offense ranks 24th out of 32 teams in points scored. They’re 27th in total yards, 20th in first downs, and the average time per drive is 2 minutes and 27 seconds which has them ranked 31st. They’re only averaging about 6 plays per drive a game which is also among the worst.
At some point, Pederson and his staff have to self reflect and ask themselves if they’re putting their players in the best position to succeed. The QB play could be a reflection of the poor play-calling even if Carson doesn’t do himself any favors with the turnovers in the process. This side of the ball has to be better if the Eagles are to win the divisions and make some noise in the postseason.
The linebackers have been a huge weakness for this defense but this could also be the result of the coaching staff not trusting the young guys.
Nate Gerry has been the victim of criticism due to his terrible play and the fact that the coaches are leaving him out there to die. There’s no reason why you have a safety converted to linebacker as your starting MIKE when you have actual linebackers right behind.
Alex Singleton has shown that he belongs out there more than Gerry ever has. TJ Edwards is their best linebacker by far, Shaun Bradley has flashed his potential, and we have yet to see more action for Davion Taylor.
At some point, someone has to hold coaching accountable for playing it “safe” with Gerry due to the lack of experience of the other guys but how can they gain experience if you keep Gerry on the field even when he’s failing?!
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire