The sparkle is beginning to dwindle in Philadelphia. After an eccentric start that saw the Eagles beat the very best that the AFC has to offer, a pair of gut-punching losses to Dallas and San Francisco have left the team looking dazed and confused. There’s no quick fix, but there are 5 things that the front office & coaching staff can implement to at least help stop the bleeding.
Retract play calling duties from Brian Johnson
It should have happened eight weeks ago. Nick Sirianni preaches accountability more than most, but is it one rule for him and another for everyone else? His offensive coordinator has shown no growth or sense of awareness this season and the team is suffering because of it.
The defense at least has the excuse of injuries and personnel. The offense is easily one of the best in football on paper and should not be out there looking like Zach Wilson’s New York Jets.
If Nick Sirianni can’t get the best out of Brian Johnson, he has to make a decision and take back play-calling if it means opening things up for an offense that looks like a caged animal and one that is rapidly losing its venom.
Eagles need to go back to the basics on offense
The Eagles offense peaked last season. It was magical. The RPO’s, the balanced approach, the confidence to move pieces around, it all worked so well. This year has been the complete opposite.
The offense is boring, bland, lacks imagination and is, more worryingly, predictable. It’s all too easy for defenses to key in on Jalen Hurts because it’s so obvious when he’s going to run and when he’s not.
If you take away the Brotherly Shove, what actually is the identity of this offense?
If Nick Sirianni isn’t going to make a change at coordinator, he has to at least force-feed some different plays that help open things up for a group that’s clearly going through it right now.
Change up defensive gameplan…temporarily
The blueprint is out on how to beat Sean Desai’s defense. San Francisco worked out that by confusing a depleted linebacker group and forcing all traffic over the middle towards that position and force a pair of struggling safeties to make quick decisions, that an already leaky pass defense would soon be gashed open.
The Cowboys used that exact template to beat the Eagles one week later. Was anyone absolutely stunned to see TE Jake Ferguson lead the team in receiving yards? No. Exactly.
Sean Desai’s biggest strength this season has been his ability to adapt to the opposing team. What he’s struggled to do is adapt his defense to mask very clear weaknesses that are now being exploited on a weekly basis.
I’m no defensive expert, but if the middle of the field is an area of grave concern for this team, maybe funnelling receivers inside isn’t the best idea. If the linebackers are struggling, perhaps a scheme that requires air-tight security on the back end for them to be comfortable just isn’t ideal.
Whether it’s taking a more zone-based approach and pulling himself back from the ‘blitz’ button, or simply just stacking the box to combat tighter formations and trust guys like Slay to win on an island (as he should be able to), there has to be some kind of compromise before every team rips this Eagles defense to shreds.
Eagles need to crack down on locker room antics
The Eagles were humiliated by the Cowboys and had their pants pulled down by the 49ers. What did Darius Slay, a team captain and league veteran, do in response to this? Take to Twitter and retweet personal highlights and statements about how he’s playing well.
You’ve got Kenny Gainwell messaging fans at halftime, Eli Ricks taking to Twitter just moments after defeat, and Darius Slay making a showreel of tackles in a 20-point defeat.
It starts at the top. It starts with engagement. Leave the ego’s at the door, enforce a social media ban 30 minutes before and after each game to stop these absolutely embarrassing shenanigans.
Should we really be talking about benching players on a 10-win team? Not really. But nothing else is working because nothing else is being tried.
If the Eagles want to enforce a standard, bench someone. Doesn’t matter who, just pull someone underperforming (Slay would probably be a good shout in all fairness) and make a point.
The Eagles have games against the Giants and Cardinals on their schedule. They don’t need an all-star lineup to beat those teams.
If you’re not going to be accountable from the top, at least be accountable at the bottom and hold your players to a standard that they simply aren’t reaching right now.
This is a great football team. It should not be seen as ‘hating’ to hold them to that standard.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon