Usual Eagles Fashion: A game within reach and many chances to win but not able to close out the game. I am going to break down each aspect of the Eagles team and analyze their performances to give an indication on where they are and how they can improve.
Carson Wentz finished with 333 yards and two touchdowns passing, despite facing relentless pressure all afternoon. The spunky quarterback also led the Eagles (1-1) with 55 yards rushing. Once again, he was a joy to watch out there because of his aptitude to stay composed in the pocket and maneuver his way around to find open receivers. However, the most important statistic from the day: Carson Wentz threw the ball nearly fifty times. For a young quarterback still acclimating to the NFL, he cannot throw the ball that many times. As the game progressed, the play calling became predictable, permitting the Chiefs to bring pressure. From the first two games, it is clear that Doug Pederson has not given Wentz total control of the offense. Last season, Wentz would read the defenses and audible out to another play. As the game went on, Wentz knew when the Chiefs were blitzing but he was unable to do anything. Maybe Pederson wanted to play it safe due to the hostile environment and crowd noise. Thus, for now, I give Pederson and Wentz a pass, but as we head into next week, I need to see some more control of the offense. In short, Wentz played well despite the poor play calling from Doug Pederson. The Eagles need to figure out a quick solution to the excessive pass attempts and as a result the extra hits on Wentz.
The inability of the Eagles’ offensive line to block and Doug Pederson’s struggle to establish a run game led to six sacks on Wentz. Specifically, Isaac Seumalo, the second year Left Guard, was beat pretty badly, leading to four of the six sacks. I will not put all the blame on Seumalo because the pressure became more aggressive since the Chiefs’ defense knew exactly what the Eagles were calling. Due to all the beatings Wentz took, yesterday the Eagles announced that Chance Warmack will start in place of Isaac Seumalo at the Left Guard position. I would have liked to see the rookie Seumalo get another start before being benched. However, I do not think that this move will have a major influence on the game.
Doug Pederson. What should I even say about our head coach? From the body of work so far in his head coaching career, there is not many accomplishments that I can attribute to Pederson. If anything, there is a lot of losses that I could blame on him. To emphasize this point: the play calling was awful in every aspect. As I looked over the box score, it is a shock that we did not hand the ball off to Legarrette Blount even once. In what world, does it seem beneficial for the Eagles to not use the lead back even once in the game? Blount, a volume rusher, needs to get as many carries as possible to establish himself; it is the only way he will be able to find his rhythm. What I do not understand is that Darren Sproles was averaging five yards per carry during the first half, and Pederson did not continue that during the second half; there is nothing to justify such means. The lack of the run game had a direct affect on Wentz who threw the ball fifty times, got sacked six times when he had dropped back to pass the ball.
There is one aspect of Doug’s play calling that he constantly resorts back to even in situations where it does not make logical sense: the screenplays. With approximately nine minutes left in the fourth quarter and a tied game, Pederson calls a screenplay on 3rd and 12, leading to an interception. In this specific situation, how can someone justify that a player will be able to run twelve yards after the catch to get the first down. You can’t. All statistics and probabilities indicate that a player has a marginal chance to gain the first down in the respective situation.
A solution: during such situations, the Eagles need to utilize their new weapons on offense- Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The Eagles need to design plays such as a skinny post where Jeffery runs about fifteen yards and breaks for about a seventeen to eighteen yard gain. It is the job of the head coach to design such plays where they can convert even in dire situations. If Doug Pederson does not improve, it is time for the management to begin looking for different options. With the current players on the roster, the Eagles need someone who calls vertical plays for fifteen to sixteen yard gains for pass plays and is able to integrate the run game. Clearly, this is not Doug Pederson.
The Eagle’s defense continues to work and fight to the end of all games. Against one of the best offenses in the NFL, the Eagles defense was able to continue to play aggressive and attack on all cylinders- at least for the first half. The Eagles did not let Kansas City score a touch down in the first half. More importantly, they were able to contain the explosive Kareem Hunt. Although the Chiefs were able to get Travis Kelce involved early on in the game, the Eagles were doing everything right from a strategic standpoint. The front seven continued to make a case for why they are one of the best in the NFL. They were able to put pressure on Alex Smith, making him uncomfortable. Moreover, the Chiefs threw the ball down the field a couple times to Tyreek Hill; however, the Eagles were lucky that the ball was overthrown. In short, although there were several injuries on the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles defense was able to keep up with the Chiefs. My only concern is that the defense is over aggressive at times, leading to big plays. We saw this with Kareem Hunt several times and also with Tyreek Hill on a play behind the line of scrimmage where he was able to pick up a first down. I know that being aggressive on the point of attack is important in Schwartz’s scheme; however, at times, it appears as their downfall, leading to big plays. However, Schwartz’s scheme has worked so far, so there is no reason to get away from what they have been doing. On a last note, I look forward to how the Eagles defense will match up against the Giants offensive line.