Last week I wrote about 4 Eagles players who needed to improve in order for the team to win their Monday night game against the Minnesota Vikings. In case you somehow missed the events of the last week, the Eagles won that game in pretty dominating fashion, 24-7.
This week, they have their first ever meeting with the revamped, Carson Wentz led, Washington Commanders. There is legitimate excitement for both squads going into this game and while the Eagles are the better team so far this season, anything can happen in a divisional game.
There weren’t a lot of players who underperformed last week, but no performance is perfect and in tight games, it often is someone unexpected who can make a big impact.
I believe this is the first time that I have even acknowledged the Eagles own version of Kenny G and it’s not really surprising why. It’s pretty obvious that Gainwell is being used as the third running back in the rotation and hasn’t gotten a lot of opportunities to show off his talents. The appropriately named running back has not been gaining yards very well this year.
In the team’s first two games, he only has 50 yards from scrimmage and is averaging a very low 28 snaps per game. He does have a touchdown but it seems ever since he scored in the third quarter of the Lions game, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen has given most of his touches to Boston Scott.
Even in the limited time he has seen, he has not shown much. His most noticeable moment of the season is pretty forgettable. In the 4th quarter against the Vikings, Hurts floated a touch pass to Gainwell, who completely mistimed the catch, having it bounce off his fingers and into the hands of ex-Eagles Jordan Hicks.
If Gainwell is going to see more time in the future, he needs to get rid of mental mistakes and take what the defense gives him. If Gainwell does what’s asked and literally runs with the chances he’s given, he can be the X-factor needed to beat the Commanders.
The other player on my list also happens to be a second year man, defensive tackle Milton Williams. The backup lineman has a lot of the same problems as Gainwell when it comes to receiving playing time and also like Gainwell, he has not shown the necessary improvement at this time to warrant more playing time.
Williams is stuck behind Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave on the depth chart so he’s never going to get a huge percent of the snaps. In the 27.5 snaps per game he averages, he has made a little noticeable difference in game action.
He only has 2 total tackles and 1 quarterback hit. As a defensive tackle he does work just by taking up space and blocking gaps but he hasn’t made any highlight plays yet this year.
Last season he only had 2 sacks but he was much more noticeable around the pocket and getting behind the line of scrimmage and busting run plays. If Williams is able to break through the Washington offensive line and get a few QB pressures and a tackle for loss, he’ll be back on track to being a very solid piece of a deep Eagles defensive line.
This may seem like a repetitive topic but the Eagles need Haason Reddick to produce in the pass rush. He currently has no QB pressures, no sacks, and not even a single QB knockdown. When the Eagles signed Reddick via free agency, the thought was that he would be a lethal weapon for Gannon and this defense but we’ve seen Gannon misuse him quite a bit in the first two weeks. The defense had a stellar outing against the Vikings on Monday night but they truly need their pass rush to be greater.
If the Eagles are to win this game against the Commanders then Haason Reddick needs to be the X-factor to make it happen. With Wentz’s escapability still a strong part of his game, Gannon needs to deploy Reddick accordingly. Reddick can wreak havoc against a suspect Commanders’ offensive line and force Wentz to turn the ball over.
AP Photo/David Richard