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What's Really Wrong With The Philadelphia Eagles?


By: Point Shaver Handzelek
Date: Dec 5, 2019
   
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Chairman & CEO Jeffrey Lurie & Executive Vice President Of Football Operations Howie Roseman thought their worries were over in 16' when they replaced Chip Kelly with current HC Doug Pederson (who was OC @ Kansas City) and brought in Jim Schwartz over from Buffalo to replace Billy Davis @ DC. Pederson's expectations were to successfully make a transition from an up-tempo offense to a hybrid West Coast attack featuring the second overall pick in the draft out of North Dakota State in QB Carson Wentz. On defense, things were a little more dramatic considering Schwartz was switching defenses from a two-gap 3-4 scheme with a conservative front OVER to an attacking 4-3 that would depend heavily on pressure created by the front 4. Well, it only took 2 seasons for the Eagles to beat the Patriots 41-33 as 4 1/2-point dogs in Super Bowl 52. But since then Philadelphia has become very pedestrian going 16-13 SU to date including last year's playoff exit @ New Orleans 20-14 after the previous week receiving a 16-15 gift as they survived a missed FG @ Chicago. This season has been filled with ups & downs. The last 4 games looked like Schwartz may have resurrected his defense after holding good teams like Buffalo, Chicago, New England & Seattle to a shade over 15 PPG. Then came the 2-9 SU Dolphins who opened their season with 49-point & 43-point losses. In this so-called, predicted cake-walk @ Miami Gardens, the Eagles sacked QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 3 times, intercepted his 1st pass thrown & saw its offense build a big 28-14 cushion after QB Carson Wentz hit WR Alshon Jeffrey with a 10-yd TD pass with 11:44 left in the 3rd. However, that was the last time they would hold momentum in the game. From that point, the Fish would out-score their opponent 23-3 down the stretch for a Daily News coined Flippers 37, Floppers 31 (the highest offensive output by Miami in 4 years) stunner @ Hard Rock Stadium. What led to this radical of a swing? Many different factors came into play. First, HC Brian Flores out-coached Doug Pederson & his out-manned team. This was CLEARLY evident when the Birds (who Daily News Headliners appropriately called them Fooladelphia) gave up a TD on a trick play for the 3rd game in a row! It's one thing when Super Bowl Champion New England or NFC Super Bowl contender Seattle does it. However, when Miami lined up for a FG on 4th & 1 @ the 1-yd line with five guys to the left & four guys to the right with the center about to snap it to the holder/punter, an immediate timeout should have been taken. The result was the Dolphins successfully baiting DE Josh Sweat to charge a fake run by Punter Matt Haack leaving Kicker Jason Sanders wide open for a shovel pass & TD. But it didn't end there even though it appeared to. On both sides of the ball, Philly played ultra-sloppy all game being flagged for a season high 10 times for 91 yards. When it looked like the return of CB's Ronald Darby & Jalen Mills would be a shot in the arm, both corners @ 5'11" & 6"0" proved to be a detriment when trying to stop 6'3" Dolphins' WR DeVante Parker who amassed 695 receiving yards on 46 catches & 4 TD's in 11 previous games. Fitzpatrick repeatedly threw the ball Parker's way versus Darby & Mills in strategic spots over coverage to watch him finish with 7 catches for 159 yards (22.7 YPC) & 2 TD's. "Fitzmagic" also utilized his 6'6" TE (2nd-year man out of Penn State) Mike Gesicki who snagged down 5 balls for 79 yards (15.8 YPC) including a 14-yard TD pass late in the 3rd to draw his team within 2. Remember, these are the SAME receivers who contributed to a team total of 11 TD reception in the first 11 games before getting 4 versus Philly. It's got to be embarrassing allowing a team to amass over 400 yards for the 1st time in 15 games. On offense, it seems Pederson has changed the run-heavy game plan to over-burdening Wentz once again after key RD Jordan Howard went down with a pinched nerve in his neck. The 1st 9 games saw the Eagles have a healthy 45.1% run-play average. However, the last 3 games minus Howard have seen them go pass-heavy with the run-play average plummeting to 30.9%. This offense with 40-million-dollar man Wentz has also went into 5 games in the fourth quarter with a chance to win & have come up empty in all 5 (4-14 career in that category)! In comparison, Dak Prescott had (8) 4th-quarter comebacks in his 3 years making 3-million a year. Wentz's stats look good on the surface going 28-for-46 for 310 yards & 3 TD's. However, he missed the target to WR Alshon Jeffery (9 catches, 137 yards, 1 TD) on 2 crucial long balls that would have gave them 1 more score they desperately needed. The solutions remain to be seen on both sides of the ball. Can Schwartz effectively dial-up enough pressure so his CB's can't be exploited? Can the Eagles run the ball enough to keep defenses on their toes? And finally, can Carson Wentz make effective hot reads & find the open receiver in the correct position to make the catch? The optimistic view says the only glimpse of winning this division is running the table to go 9-7 SU ( 2 N.Y. Giants, Washington, Dallas) which includes a win @ home versus Dallas, a team that buried them previously 37-10. I'm taking the realistic view says they finish 7-9 SU & split their 4 straight divisional games in the highly-competitive NFC Least. See you in Week 14!
 


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