Eagles Go Back to Basics on Offense
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The epicenter of the Eagles' universe is the dire situation at cornerback and that has provided some shade for a struggling offense that hasn't hit its stride since the last time Philadelphia faced the New York Giants, a 34-13 win up the New Jersey Turnpike on Oct. 11.
"That was a fun game," coach Doug Pederson remembered on Friday. "I felt like the offense was in sync, in rhythm."
Since that Thursday night encounter, the Eagles have managed just one win in four games and have averaged just 17.0 points-per-game, obviously not good enough in the high-octane world on the 2018 NFL.
The 34 points scored against the now 3-7 Giants is a number you can work with in order to be successful on a consistent basis. Problem is that's the only time in 10 games the Eagles have cracked the 30-point barrier after doing in nine times last season.
"I think you just have to, as a play-caller, get back to kind of what our team, and the success that we've had a little bit this season and last year, kind of get back to who we are," Pederson assessed. "We talk about running the ball each week. We have to do that obviously. I think [QB] Carson [Wentz], some of his strengths are obviously the play-action, move the pocket, do the things that were effective a little bit in that [first Giants] game."
Everything was clicking for the Birds in North Jersey starting with Wentz, who threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns, including two scores to Alshon Jeffery and one to Zach Ertz. Even the much-maligned running game was serviceable with Wendell Smallwood running for 51 yards on 18 carries and Corey Clement adding 43 more and a score on the ground in 11 opportunities.
Maybe the key aspect to the success during the first Giants game, however, was the calendar in that a short week meant a more simplified offensive game plan because of the lack of preparation time.
"You kind of get back to your core, training camp, OTA type stuff," Pederson explained. "There is something to that because that's kind of what the players know. You can't get real elaborate with formations and different things, going into a short week like that."
And Thanksgiving Day has curbed the prep this week as well, not as dramatically as when you are playing on a Thursday but enough to perhaps jolt the Eagles offensive coaching staff to get back to basics.
"Quite frankly, this has been kind of that same type week because of yesterday," Pederson said. "Even though we worked Tuesday and Wednesday, it kind of refreshes the guys and you kind of keep some of your core stuff. We're still integrating [WR] Golden [Tate] into the offense and trying to increase his volume each week. A lot of times by simplifying it for him, it simplifies it for everybody else.
"I think your guys can play faster that way."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen