The Eagles are playing more like the team we thought they’d be in August than the one we believed they were at the beginning of October. (Photo by Bill Streicher/USA TODAY)
While there’s a number of things wrong with this Eagles team, self-inflicted wounds have proven the most devastating. Monday night was no different. Big plays were called back due to stupid penalties, Carson Wentz sailed another pass 400 feet over an open receiver, and Fletcher Cox once again gave the opposing offense new life after forcing a 4th and long. After Week 10 the Eagles looked better than their 5-4 record would suggest. It now appears the Eagles are every bit as good as their 2-6 record in their last eight would indicate.
One of the biggest reasons for the Eagles 2-6 record since their 3-0 start is Carson Wentz. I know the offensive line is banged up and receivers drop the ball a lot, but Wentz has been bad. Take a look at the statistics below.
QB1: 173/291 59% 1,612 yards 9TD 10INT
QB2: 183/290 63% 1,824 yards 6TD 8INT
Those are some ugly numbers for two quarterbacks over the last eight weeks. QB 2 is our very own Carson Wentz. QB 1 is Brock Osweiler, whom I believe is the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. The Eagles win one, probably two more games over their 2-6 stretch if Wentz plays just slightly better. That 3rd quarter interception Monday night was a killer. The Eagles were moving the football and looked poised to dominate another 3rd quarter. He had his receiver open and just missed him, badly.
I know I’ve made my fair share of criticisms about the play calling. However, each week it becomes more clear how handcuffed Doug Pederson and the coaching staff are due to Wentz’s inability to read a defense, feel pressure, make accurate throws, and locate open receivers. Does this mean Wentz is a bust? No, not at all. He’s a rookie. Wentz should be (and will be) judged in 2018 and 2019. All you want to see in these first two seasons is promise. Wentz has shown enough of it at times, it’s just been too few and far between over the last two months.
Of course, it’s not all Wentz’s fault. The defense has flat out disappeared the last two weeks, especially on 3rd down against the Packers. Entering Week 12, the Eagles were 3rd in the NFL in limiting opponent 3rd down conversions. After Monday night’s disaster the Eagles dropped to 14th, now allowing 39% of 3rd downs to be converted as opposed to 35% a week earlier. The Packers’ 17 play, 78 yard drive that chewed up over 8 minutes of clock in the 4th quarter was embarrassing for a defense that prides itself on getting off the field.
While getting off the field on 3rd down was a new problem for the defense, other problems have plagued them consistently in recent weeks. The Eagles have forced only one turnover over the last three weeks after forcing 15 turnovers through their first eight outings. They’ve tallied just three sacks over that same stretch after piling up 23 in the first half of the season. The Eagles offense isn’t good enough to win games on its own. It needs impact plays from the defense and they’ve gotten zero big plays from Jim Schwartz’s unit the last three weeks.
Dougie can’t skate free either. Though his boneheaded challenge in the 2nd half didn’t come back to bite him, it was still the dumbest challenge I’ve seen. In fact, I’m starting a weekly section in this here Birdfeed post called “Dumb Dougie.” The challenge obviously takes the cake this week. Not attempting a 50 yard field goal to go up 10 points in Dallas, forgoing numerous field goals in New York, or throwing a deep bomb on 1st down with the game on the line in Detroit are all classic Dumb Dougie moments. This should be fun. I’m excited about this.
Anyway, the Eagles stink of late. Considering the lack of talent on the offense and the lack of pressure up front from the defense, it’s unlikely the Eagles finish the season on a tear and find themselves in the postseason. Which is a real shame because their schedule should give them a chance of jumping back into the playoff race. The Bengals and Ravens can’t do much offensively, so there’s opportunity for the defense to swing those games if they can remove their heads from their rear ends. Then you have the three division games at home with the Dallas game likely meaning nothing to the Cowboys. With a swift kick in the rear the Eagles could still find themselves with 10 wins and a shot at the playoffs.
(But seriously, miracles happen.)