5 brutal questions the Eagles need to answer before week 2

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 26: Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91) chat during the game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 26, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles leave Detroit with their tails between their legs. There’s a 1 in the win column, but only just. If this team is to really push on and make some postseason noise, the following five things have to be addressed.

Can the Eagles do more to help Jalen Hurts?

Jalen Hurts wasn’t perfect on Sunday, but if it had been Carson Wentz back there, we would’ve been having a very different conversation. I know there’s a consensus that Jalen Hurts rushing is ‘bad’ because he needs to develop as a passer, but when he’s under that much pressure, having a quarterback who can turn a dead play into a first-down is critical.

The offense was struggling during the opening few drives and the only reason there was any moderate success was because of Jalen Hurts tucking and running, escaping the jaws of a rampant pass-rush.

There were miscues where receivers were running blocking routes and not expecting the ball, and there was a flurry of poor pass blocks.

Hurts wasn’t perfect as a passer, but the fact is he was able to put the offense on his back at times and will his way down the field does more than just offset the wobbles along the way.

What happened to DeVonta Smith?

Let’s get to the main gripe with Hurts here. I wrote consistently through the offseason how about the balancing act of having two dominant wideouts who drew 70+ receptions each last year would be a tall order. There’s just no way both can replicate that production while the other is alongside them.

For whatever reason, DeVonta Smith had 0 receptions, 0 yards on Sunday. You can say he had a drop early on, but that didn’t stop any QB from targeting any franchise wideout…ever. Whether it’s a habit of struggling to get off his first read, a sense of comfort in targeting Brown, or maybe a mixture of things, this is unacceptable.

Smith was a first-round selection. If he’s going to be put on the shelf and do nothing all game, the Eagles may as well have kept JJAW.

I know that’s an extreme response, but it comes from a good place. The offense was designed to have the ball spread around, it’s why all 3 running backs scored a touchdown. But if Hurts continues to only throw to one side of the field, defenses will eventually exploit it.

I don’t think this is unfixable. But I’d rather see Hurts balance this out now than in 8 weeks time see a clash of ego’s and fans wonder why a wideout who broke the franchise rookie receiving record a year ago is now mirroring Jalen Reagor’s 2021 production.

Did you forget about Jordan Davis?

The Eagles lacked any kind of defensive pressure yesterday. Fact. The Eagles then suffered some attacks on their defensive tackle depth. Fact. Jordan Davis, a first-round selection, played in fewer snaps than Marlon Tuipolotu. Fact.

Not. Acceptable.

Davis isn’t going to be a starter, I get that. But when the depth is tested and you roll out guys who struggled to make the roster over a player as dominant as Davis? Not a good look.

Is there a bigger problem on defense?

We can critique Jalen Hurts all we want, but just because he wasn’t perfect, doesn’t mean he wasn’t great. The defense however? Outside of Kyzir White and Marcus Epps, was mostly dismal.

Jared Goff took full advantage of the soft cushions given to him by the Eagles corners, who then couldn’t tackle. There was a distinct lack of blitzing against one of the most sporadic quaterbacks in the league when facing pressure. If they’re not going to blitz Jared Goff, then who are they going to attack?!

Is Jonathan Gannon on the hotseat?

The answer for me is already a resounding yes. It’s week one, granted. A lot can change. But Gannon has had an entire offseason to improve his defense and been given every resource under the sun to make that job easier. The Eagles could’ve rolled out undrafted free agents across the board and the result would’ve been the same.

Gannon’s scheme just isn’t cutting it because there is not enough trust in the secondary, despite the defense undergoing such a drastic transformation. If there isn’t a real change soon in the principles of this defense, then there has to be a bigger one.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire