Eagles Have Issues in All Three Phases of the Game
The Eagles may sit a top the NFC East, which would allow them to host a playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field, but its no secret they have a lot of issues in all three phases of the game.
Coming out of the bye the team look disinterested, unprepared and uninspired against the Giants.
The Giants took it to the Eagles right on the opening drive when quarterback Daniel Jones took the snap and took off for a 34-yard score, setting the tone for what would be a long day for the defense.
"First game it was a little bit of a surprise," admitted Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. They ran out of a formation we hadn't seen before, but it was embarrassing in this game because they ran out of the exact same formation and we fit it wrong. The guy that's supposed to be there for the quarterback wasn't there. Nobody else got off any blocks and he made us pay with a touchdown."
Over on special teams, where they have struggles all season, and again on Sunday where two punts were misplayed by returners Greg Ward and Jalen Reagor.
"Obviously, we got to catch the football," explained Special Teams coach Dave Fipp. "We got two good returners back there, those guys need to do a better job of fielding the ball. "That's their job and that's why those guys were back there, to catch the ball. I still got a lot of confidence in those guys. I know they can do that, and we'll keep working on it in practice and we'll get better at it. We definitely gave up some field position there and put our offense back further on the field then it should have been and that didn't help our football team out."
It's not the first time that it has happened, but the team has limited options and really no veteran presence in the punt return role. DeSean Jackson is injured, Darren Sproles retired and Nelson Agholor who has returned punts is no longer here, leaving Ward, a college quarterback and Reagor, a rookie to handle the role.
"Why do I have confidence in these guys?" Asked Fipp. "I mean I've seen him catch balls in practice, they caught the ball well in warmups, in the pregame, all that stuff."
On offense, Head coach Doug Pederson admitted on Wednesday that the team needs to be better at executing, and acknowledged that he needs to dial up more plays outside the pocket for Wentz.
Getting Wentz out of the pocket should help, but it doesn't mean there aren't plays to be made in the current offense. On this "Baldy Breakdown" from Brian Baldinger from the NFL Network, he outlines a play that was there for Wentz to make, and he simply doesn't make a good throw.
On first-and-10, the Eagles run a solid play, the Giants double the Eagles outside receiver, Travis Fulgham, taking away the slant play. The Eagles have their check-down open, running back Miles Sanders, who sneaks out of the backfield and is open and has some space to run if he makes the catch.
The problem is the ball is under thrown and skipped to Sander, so instead of a five-yard gain on first-down, you have second-and-10. A completed pass is at worst a five yard gain, but a good throw, likely allows Sanders to catch the ball with room to make a defender miss and turn it into a big play.
Either way, its a simple play, in the pocket, that isn't executed by Wentz.
Another example of a good play-call, that is not executed by the quarterback is here on third-and-three. Wentz takes the snap and gets a rub route by Fulgham in the slot, setting a pick for Reagor. Reagor is being defended by James Bradberry, but the rub from Fulgham gives him enough time to get open and a window for Wentz to deliver him the football for a likely first-down.
Wentz hitches, the ball is delivered late, allowing Bradberry time to regroup and break up the pass.
Another simple pitch-and-catch play that isn't executed well by Wentz that would have likely resulted in a first-down, keeping the drive alive, something Pederson disputed on Wednesday when asked about this specific play.
"That's not on Carson," Pederson explained on Wednesday during his zoom media call. "I put that more on us as coaches to coach that play better, and I put it on those two young receivers. And I say that to say this: if we just execute the play a little better it's a completion. Listen, you got to look at the whole body of a play, the body of work to really understand. I don't know how much of the play you saw. If you just saw a TV copy, if you just saw the fact that James Bradberry came over the top. It's a pick, it's a design pick, a rub play and we failed to execute. So, it's something that we've addressed with our players. That's why you saw Carson double clutch the ball because we failed to execute the pick part of it, the rub part of it and then Jalen went a little bit too deep on his route. So those are things that we got to get corrected and those are the things that are really keeping us from executing that and staying on the field."
You can watch the play and decide for yourself.
One thing that could help the offense is the return of left guard Isaac Seumalo. In his absence, the team has given up a ton of pressure from the left guard position, forcing Wentz to hurry his throws. Having Seumalo back could help the team get some more clean looks downfield.
"I'm excited," Pedeson sad when asked about Seumalo's possible return. "We will see where Isaac's at today and then hopefully there are no setbacks, as you mentioned, and he can have a great week of practice. We know that our backs can be dynamic in the screen game. We have struggled just sometimes just to complete the screen, or a defender has kind of read it and been sitting there. But yeah, we feel like our backs can be explosive when we get them in space and then get them the football. Having said all that and getting Isaac back, I'm hoping that it opens up a few more opportunities for us down the field."
As far as Traivis Fulgham is concerned, he had his least productive day in a Eagles uniform on Sunday, catching just one ball for eight yards in the games on five targets.
"Defenses are more aware of where he is now," Pederson explained. "He’s drawing a little more coverage his way. The addition of [WR] Alshon [Jeffery] -- Alshon didn't get that many snaps, but we are rolling Alshon in a little bit more. And then on Travis to, just understanding his role and what we're trying to get done with him. He's a big, powerful, physical guy and we got to keep him coming, he can be explosive. And listen, he's also relatively -- he's new to our system and our offense. He's still processing and learning as well and it's something that we want to keep him and Alshon coming together."