The Philadelphia Eagles closed out a 2019 season with mixed feelings. However, they had a sense of direction and promises for improvement.
The team won the NFC East, beating out the Cowboys in a close battle with a 9-7 record. Eventually, the Super Bowl LII champions lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wildcard round but hoped that a healthy and upgrade-ridden 2020 campaign would see Philly in regular contention again. Eight months later, the vibes in the City of Brotherly Love aren’t nearly as positive as they were in January.
After two weeks of football, the Eagles are one of two winless teams in the NFC East division. This means, no matter how bad they might get from here, they could at least be in contention late in the season. However, it goes to expose their glaring weaknesses. Their start also proves that they might not be the factor they had hoped to be in 2020. Most recently, Philadelphia lost to a strong LA Rams team, 37-19, after suffering a horrific fourth-quarter meltdown to drop their opener at FedEx Field in the US capital. It seems like a long campaign for the Eagles offense and a subpar one for their defense, leaving their hopes for a playoff run in jeopardy.
The offensive unit has been one of the worst-performing in the league, although it is not particularly surprising in perspective. Through their first two games, the Eagles have scored a total of 36 points, sixth-fewest during this young season, and have failed to hit 20 points on either occasion. Last year, the woes came from a subpar conversion rate on red zone opportunities. This year, on the contrary, they are having problems reaching the red zone at all – Philly has scored three touchdowns on just five RZ trips.
Carson Wentz has statistically put on a very discouraging display. However, he doesn’t exactly have a Chiefs-like supporting cast either. Miles Sanders and Boston Scott have both been quiet, combining for 26 carries and less than five yards per rushing attempt. This has prevented Wentz from being even a bit efficient, making him throw a total of 85 passes, or 42.5 per game, in his first two games. A playmaker this talented is often capable of taking on a similar workload, as proven by the 2018 Rams. However, there’s an ocean-sized difference between these two teams’ wide-receiving corps.
Late in 2019, the Eagles suffered injury problems and Wentz didn’t even struggle to get them to the playoffs. DeSean Jackson finished the year on the Injured Reserve. So did Alshon Jeffery, and even Wentz himself. This season, with everyone available, he’s averaging a passer rating of 64.4. Now, the offseason upgrades look nowhere near enough at the position.
What really goes to expose the Eagles passing game is the workload of their wide receivers. It proves their role, or the lack thereof. Numbers crunching shows us that three Philadelphia players have more than ten targets thus far. Two of those are tight ends – Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz. Furthermore, the only WR in the aforementioned group, Jackson, has caught merely 50 percent of his 16 targets. Greg Ward and rookie Jalen Reagor have better efficiency figures but without much significance. With combined 16 targets and 11 receptions, they are still too unproven to even be promoted. If the Eagles don’t make a move prior to the trade deadline on November 3rd, they’ll have to rely on Jackson as WR1. Even with Goedert and Ertz heavily involved in the passing game, this spells disaster.
There’s much work ahead for this to not become a tendency. Philadelphia needs to change a lot in their game plan but their current roster doesn’t allow them to involve anyone they’ve not tried yet. Moreover, they cannot shift the focus to the running game to establish effectiveness. The state of the Eagles offense could come back to haunt them. This could be a real shame because the defensive unit is putting on promising displays. It has allowed the fifth-fewest passing yards and the seventh-fewest rushing yards per attempts. Overall, the unit has surrendered the ninth-fewest yards in the league. But the lack of weapons in the offense is real, and allowing league-high 8 sacks in two games isn’t helping either.
The Philadelphia Eagles defense is ready to climb the ranks and influence game outcomes, despite what they experienced in the last two weeks. However, the offense has all but proven that they are not on the same level. The reigning NFC East champions still don’t look a lot worse than any other divisional contender. Nonetheless, Howie Roseman will have to make at least one addition to one of the NFL’s worst receiving corps. Otherwise, the Eagles will hit the ground running in yet another Wildcard-round exit.