Posted: November 8th, 2018 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »
With the Eagles at midseason, let’s take a look at some of what we’ve seen to this point.
Carson Wentz is putting up amazing numbers. He has a passer rating of 109.6. He is completing 70.7 percent of his passes. Wentz is doing all this while coming back from last December’s ACL injury. Young QBs recovering from an injury are not supposed to play like this.
His accuracy is improved. His arm strength is better than ever. Wentz is making incredible throws in each game. He and Alshon Jeffery have developed great chemistry.
Things haven’t been perfect. Wentz came up short at the end of the loss to the Panthers. The Eagles had a chance to steal that game back. Fumbles have been an issue. To be fair, he’s getting hit hard on those plays, but ball security needs to improve. Wentz hasn’t been as good in the Red Zone this year as he was in 2017.
Some people wondered if 2017 was an anomaly. We’ve seen young QBs have a great season and then fail to live up to that standard, for a variety of reasons. Wentz is playing at a very high level and showing that he is going to be a star for years to come.
Nick Foles was disappointing. He didn’t have ideal circumstances to be sure, but you could definitely see his limitations.
Jay Ajayi was off to a solid start before tearing his ACL. Darren Sproles seems to have the worst hamstrings on Earth.
Wendell Smallwood is playing the best football of his career. He’s making plays in the passing game as well as running hard. Rookie Josh Adams is coming off his best game (9-61) and has shown promise.
The problem with Smallwood is that he’s got a limited ceiling. Adams is an unknown commodity, but he hasn’t shown anything special. It would be good to see him get 15 to 20 touches in a game at some point.
Corey Clement is the mystery man. He’s dealt with nagging injuries and hasn’t played well. He’s averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
Alshon Jeffery has been tremendous. He doesn’t have huge numbers, but his impact is felt in every game. He makes key plays to keep the chains moving. He’s been outstanding in the Red Zone. Jeffery is proving to be worth every penny he gets paid.
Nelson Agholor has been somewhat disappointing. He’s averaging 9.1 yards per reception and only has 1 TD this year. He was much more of a playmaker last season. Agholor looked good in the Jags game so maybe he’ll heat up down the stretch.
Mack Hollins and Mike Wallace got hurt early and haven’t done anything. Kamar Aiken, Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter did very little. Jordan Matthews was signed during the season and has proven to be a good addition (10-200-1). He and Wentz still have good chemistry.
Zach Ertz is posting freaky numbers, 61-644-3. I doubt he sustains that, but Ertz has been absolutely outstanding, as a playmaker and chain-mover. He has great hands and has become deadly as a route-runner. Teams try to shut him down every week, but Ertz keeps producing.
Dallas Goedert does not look like a rookie. He has good numbers, 18-188-3. The tape is just as good. Goedert can make tough catches. He can make plays after the catch. His blocking has been a very pleasant surprise. Goedert is already a better blocker than Ertz will ever be.
Josh Perkins has been effective as the #3 TE.
The offensive line has been up and down. The QBs have been sacked 26 times this year. Eagles QBs were sacked 36 times for all of last season. That’s not a good trend.
Jason Peters has been in and out of the lineup. That has hurt continuity. Even when he’s on the field, Peters has been up and down. Injuries and age have taken him down a notch. Lane Johnson has dealt with injuries. He gave up strip-sacks in consecutive games. That didn’t happen last year. Brandon Brooks and Jason Kelce are playing well.
Isaac Seumalo took over for Stefan Wisniewski at LG and Seumalo has settled in nicely. He’s been effective as a run blocker and in pass protection. Seumalo has moved around when needed at RT and done a good job. His athleticism and versatility are key assets.
Big V has played LT and RT. He’s been up and down, but that is due to being thrown into games when needed. OL are at their best when they can practice and prepare. Coming off the bench and being the swing tackle is hard.
Fletcher Cox is having the best season of his career. He is disruptive every single week. He’s also productive, which can be a challenge for DTs. Cox leads the team with 4 sacks and he’s tied for the team lead with 5 TFLs. His ability to collapse the pocket on a regular basis has been very impressive.
Destiny Vaeao, Haloti Ngata, Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector have been the other DTs. They haven’t done a whole lot. It is imperative that Tim Jernigan comes back for the stretch run.
Brandon Graham only has 1.5 sacks, but he’s been more disruptive than that. Michael Bennett has played very well the last month. He’s got 3.5 sacks for the year and has really started to make his presence felt. Chris Long has been up and down. He does have 3 sacks, but he is too quiet in some games.
Derek Barnett is out for the year. He showed real signs of growth from his rookie season. If you expected Barnett to be dominant, you were disappointed. He did have 2.5 sacks and 5 TFLs. He was a good run defender. He showed growth as a pass rusher, using more than just speed off the edge.
Rookie Josh Sweat has only played a handful of snaps. You can see his physical gifts, but also that he’s still raw. He will play more down the stretch.
Overall, the DL has been dominant for stretches. They have been too quiet at other times, most notably the fourth quarter of losses to TEN and CAR.
Disappointing. With Nigel Bradham re-signed and Jordan Hicks coming back from injury, expectations were high. Bradham played at a Pro Bowl level last year. Hicks has been a turnover machine in his career. The middle of the Eagles defense was going to be outstanding.
But it hasn’t. Bradham and Hicks have been okay, but there sure won’t be any Pro Bowl talk for these two. They have been good on blitzes, totaling 5 sacks between them.
Kamu Grugier-Hill has shown good promise as the WLB. Great athlete. He’s showed playmaking potential. Nate Gerry has been a good role player, when healthy. He’s missed the last three games.
Weird year. Rodney McLeod got hurt in Game 3 and that created real problems. Corey Graham replaced him initially, but that wasn’t going to work. Rookie Avonte Maddox took over and has done a solid job. He’s learning on the fly and that’s led to some mistakes, but he is also showing playmaking ability. He had a huge FF and key 3rd down stop in the win over the Jags. Maddox is a good tackler. He takes good angles to the ball. Maddox was drafted to play the slot, but might have found a long term home at FS.
Malcolm Jenkins has been up and down. He bit on an underneath move vs Tampa and that left the deep middle wide open for a 75-yard DeSean Jackson TD. Jenkins broke up a pass in the end zone vs Jacksonville and that turned out to be a big play. He’s doesn’t have any picks, but has been part of 2 takeaways. At his best, Jenkins is a physical player who sets the tone for the defense. It doesn’t feel that’s been the case as much this year.
Corey Graham had the mistake of the year when he blew coverage on 4th & 15 vs Tennessee and left a receiver wide open for an easy 1st down. Ugh. Tre Sullivan hasn’t played much. Deiondre’ Hall has played even less. The Eagles traded for him back in September and Hall is struggling to get on the field, despite plenty of opportunities. Not a good sign for him.
There was a lot of hype about Ronald Darby coming into the season. He has been outstanding at times, but has given up some plays as well. He bit on a double-move that led to an easy TD in the 4th quarter meltdown to the Panthers. There was a horrible tackle attempt in the Tampa loss that led to a long TD pass. Darby does lead the team with 12 PBUs.
Jalen Mills has had his struggles. He’s given up big plays on a regular basis. There have been some PI calls against him. Teams are attacking him on a regular basis. Mills has tackled well and done a good job in coverage in the Red Zone, but he has been disappointing. He played well against the Jags, but also got hurt.
Sidney Jones played well in the slot before getting hurt. He’s got some things to work on, but you can certainly see his talent and potential.
Rasul Douglas has played sparingly, but is coming off his best game. He took over for Mills last week and looked pretty good. He picked off a pass against Atlanta.
Jerome Dexter McDougle played in the slot the last two games. He struggled, especially against the Jaguars. He’s been cut and replaced by Cre’Von LeBlanc.
Beyond individuals, the secondary has had too many blown coverages. It is hard to pinpoint a single reason for the problems. Poor communication? Players trying to do too much? Players just making mental mistakes? Coverage has to improve for the team to play better down the stretch.
Cameron Johnston leads the NFL in gross and net punting. He still needs to work on ball control, but overall he’s been terrific.
Jake Elliott has been mostly good, but has had some issues. He hasn’t missed an extra point, but has missed some important FGs, notably one against Carolina.
Kick coverage units have been solid.
DeAndre Carter did a good job replacing Sproles as the PR. No one has stood out as the KOR.
This is a complicated subject and really deserves a post of its own.
The coaching staff was great in 2017 and the results showed that. The results aren’t as good this year so it is fair to question the coaches.
I still feel a great deal of confidence in Doug Pederson and the Eagles coaching staff.