The 4-0 Eagles have been very, very impressive. Finding areas of concerns is no easy task. Nonetheless, I’ve found a few that may be worth keeping an eye on.
Part of being honest about your team is being honest about their opponents. It’s not the Eagles fault they have one of the NFL’s easiest schedules this season, but it should be taken into account when assessing the team.
While the Vikings and Jaguars appear headed for playoff contention, the Eagles haven’t faced a team in the “elite” tier of the NFL. Granted, this season that “elite” tier may not exist at all, but the Eagles haven’t faced (and won’t face) a team like the Buccaneers, Bills, Chiefs or even Dolphins and Ravens all season. A Week 12 visit from the Packers is the lone exception. Again, this is in no way a slight against the Eagles. You play your schedule. Just try to remember the Eagles schedule is trash.
(I know what you’re thinking… “Hey dummy, the Eagles play the 3-1 Giants and 3-1 Cowboys twice!” Yes, but I don’t think either of those teams are legitimate playoff threats. Congrats to you if you do.)
Nick Sirianni loves… and I mean LOVES to go for it on 4th down. Fans love it. Players probably do as well. And I love it, too. But at some point, it’s going to come back and bite us in a real way. You can’t stick your face in a snake den and come away unscathed every time. I thought the Eagles should’ve taken the points at the end of the 1st half last week. It was the end of the half, so pinning the Jaguars deep was irrelevant, and taking the 3 point lead seemed ideal. The Eagles were also receiving the 2nd half kickoff, so a two score lead was in play. Sirianni went for it and it worked. The Eagles scored.
Later, near the end of the game, with the Eagles nursing an 8 point lead, Sirianni passed on a 38 yard field goal on 4th and 3. This time it failed but he was bailed out by the defense on the very next play. I thought Sirianni should’ve attempted the kick to (essentially) end the game. Sure it was raining, but the Eagles ended up throwing the football in that same rain on the 4th down play. If Jake Elliott was indeed too injured to kick then that is an entirely different story and going for it makes complete sense. On the other hand, Elliott did convert a 43 yarder earlier in the 2nd half AFTER the injury occurred. I’m all for being aggressive but at some point the numbers are going to balance out and I’m fearful it’ll cost the Eagles in a big way when it does.
The defense has been great, but did it feel like the Jaguars and Doug Pederson had the Eagles defense on the ropes in that 1st quarter on Sunday, or was it just me? I kind of think it was just me, but there were those back-to-back drives where Jacksonville averaged over 8 yards per play before the Trevor Lawrence self-fumble. The Eagles were lost in coverage a number of times and couldn’t tackle in the open field. It looked like 2021. As a paranoid, expecting-everything-to-eventually-break-bad Philadelphia fan, I have to wonder: Did the Eagles fix the issues or did all the fumbling just crush Jacksonville’s confidence for the afternoon? I’m leaning the former but again, I’m a lifelong Philadelphia fan. It’s hard to forget about a lifetime of sports abuse.
And finally… injuries. Duh. Yes, it’s obvious and completely out of anyone’s control, but the Eagles are beginning to accumulate some pretty significant dings. Darius Slay, Jordan Mailata and Isaac Seumalo all went down Sunday. Add in Avonte Maddox and perhaps Jake Elliott and the concern starts to add up. Thankfully, it appears everyone (especially Mailata) avoided extended absences, but nothing changes fortunes more in the NFL than injuries.
To recap, the Eagles are good, their schedule makes it harder to gage just how good, the coach is a gambler, the defense scared me for a few drives and people get hurt playing football. So yeh, all is pretty much great right now.
Thursday Night Pick; Colts +3.5