e-a-g-l-e-s eagles! Posted December 14, 2020 Share Posted December 14, 2020 The Good: 1. Hurts plays well— I was concerned coming into the game that the Eagles put a rookie in an uphill battle facing a Saints defense that has been red-hot coming into the matchup with the Eagles. I think the Hurts and the Eagles coaching staff did a tremendous job playing to the strengths of Hurts and using his legs to keep the Saints defense off balance. On the afternoon, Hurts rushed 18 times for 106 yards. I think the Saints knew Hurts had wheels and could take off, but I do not think they really understood how good of a runner and athlete Hurts was in college. Additionally, I liked that the Eagles more often then they have been moved the pocket and got him rolling out to create extra time to get the ball out. The game plan was very similar to what you have seen from the Panthers for much of this season with Bridgewater when they run some of their slow developing plays down the field that allows Samuel, Anderson or Moore to get open. While Hurts is much more athletic and a better runner, the Panthers move the pocket on an abundance of plays to give Bridgewater more time to find receivers down the field. Inn this game, Hurts did play the majority of the time from the pocket, but the Eagles dialed up more plays using his legs to extend the pocket or roll outs to buy a little more time for things to develop down the field. I thought Hurts looked solid from the pocket. I do not think he was great, but that was to be expected from a rookie playing against a defense like the Saints. He was 17-30 for 167 yards, but more importantly he didn’t have a bad interception or turnover until late in the game. Additionally, I hand it to Hurts he was making quick decisions with the ball. He wasn’t holding onto the ball too long and when he did he got outside of the pocket and was able to throw the ball away. Furthermore, when guys were getting open for the most part he was able to find them and allow them to make plays up the field. Granted I thought the Reagor play was greatly benefitted by an OPI by Ertz, but Hurts delivered the ball where it needed to be to allow for Reagor to make a move up field. Nevertheless, the only thing I think you can harp on Hurts about from this game is the fumble late in the 4th quarter. It allowed the Saints to get a touchdown on a short field and attempt an on-side kick that was nearly recovered by the Saints. Besides that I do not think their was much more you could have expected from Hurts coming into this game. He and the offense played well enough to win this game. 2. Sticking with Sanders—I had a feeling that Miles Sanders was going to have a big role in this game. Frankly because I was facing him in my fantasy football playoffs and I also figured Doug would call a much more balanced attack as long as the game didn’t become lopsided early on. For the Eagles, they were able to get out to a 17-0 lead in large part to a homerun 82-yard touchdown run by Sanders. I thought Ertz had an excellent block on the run that helped spring Sanders for the long touchdown. On the afternoon, Sanders rushed 18 times for 115 yards (8.2 yards per carry) and was targeted 5 times and pulled in 4 receptions for 21 yards. I thought the Eagles also got creative with Sanders using him on a swing pass, which is something we haven’t used since earlier in the season. We have been trying to set up wheel routes and screens, which have failed but the swing pass was a wrinkle that should be implemented and used more often with the ability Sanders has. Nevertheless, I expect going forward that Sanders is going to be relied on more heavily. I think with Hurts ability to run that teams are going to have a harder time defending the RPO and Sanders might be able to see some running room and bust off another big time run. Besides Washington at the end of the year, I think he has some nice matchups that the Eagles should be able to exploit if they stick to getting him 20-25 touches per game. 3. Doug has balance; Using Hurts legs—It has been a really long time since I can remember the Eagles having more rushing attempts then passing attempts. On the afternoon, the Eagles threw the ball 30 times and rushed it 36. Granted Hurts took off and ran on a couple of drop backs so the ratio is likely much closer to 50-50 then the 36-30 in the run pass ratio indicates. That said, the Eagles didn’t abandon the run even when the offense went stagnant for much of the second half or not working particularly great in the first half. Granted I do think Sanders should have gotten more than just 6 carries in the second half. Furthermore, Sanders didn’t look great early in this game running the ball. He had 7 carries for 14 yards before busting off his big run. Normally, when the Eagles offense isn’t sustaining offense for long stretches it is because we get away from what was working. I thought they adequately made use of Hurts’ ability to use his legs and Sanders being the dynamic playmaker he is. Hurts on the RPO with Sanders is very dangerous especially if DE’s begin to crash down and focus solely on Hurts. It allows for Sanders to get a lane if Hurts hands it off and that lane with a key block could spring him for a long touchdown. On another note, I think Doug did a good job playing to the strength of Hurts. Hurts is an OK passer of the football. But where he is able to hurt teams is with his legs and being able to extend plays. I do not have the exact count, I will make a note to jot down how many rollouts and plays we called where we moved the pocket when I go back and watch the All-22. It was definitely more than the 2-3 we have been calling in the previous games. I think Doug had some bad play calls as well such as a couple of his 4th down play calls or Sanders just getting 6 carries in the second half (most on one drive). I also thought the offense outside of the touchdown drive was stagnant for much of the second half, but I give him credit. Seems like every time the Eagles are out of it, he finds away in December to get his team playing hard and coming up with upset victories. 4. Defensive line came to play—This might have been the best performance of the season by the Eagles defensive line. I think when you look at the Saints offensive line and the fact that Hill is liable to run all over the place if you lose containment that this might have been the best performance of the season by the DL unit. In this game, Cox, Hargrave and Sweat were able to combine for 5 sacks, 4 TFL and 6 QB hits. I thought Hargrave looked particularly great in this game. His second sack of the game put the Saints in a serious bind. Lutz in the dome likely can make a 57-yard field goal. Meanwhile outside in the elements, he missed. Without that Sack, the Saints inch their way closer. Additionally, he was able to fight off blocks to get penetration into the backfield and make his presence known. Over the past 3 weeks, he has been the Eagles best defensive player as he has recorded 3 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss and 5 QB hits. I think he is finally adjusting to the system and possibly that his pectoral injury has completely healed so he isn’t as limited as he was early in the season. As for Sweat, he arguably had the biggest play in this game. The Eagles are clinging onto a 17-14 lead. The Saints had a 4th and 2 from the Eagles 42 with just under 10 minutes left in the game. If the Saints were able to convert this 4th down, it felt like the Eagles were in a world of trouble with ¾ of their secondary out. Fortunately for the Eagles, Sweat was able to beat Armstead and get to Hill. Not only did Sweat get to Hill, he was able to strip the ball out, which was recovered by Hargrave. Imo it was the biggest play of the game. Credit to Sweat, he was great early in the year. He hit a lull in the middle of the season and seems to have picked it up again. He has 3 Qb hits over his last 3 games. He has 6 sacks on the season, which is just 1 behind Brandon Graham who leads the team with 7. It is nice when you can get that type of production form your 3rd defensive end. As for Cox, he is finally getting to reap the benefit of having a very good DT next to him. Feels like much of the last 2 seasons, he has been playing with average DT due to injuries. However, with Hargrave emerging, it is helping make his job much easier. If Hargrave can continue this trend, then I think teams cannot solely double Cox because it would be a critical mistake. Over the last 4 games, Cox has 3 sacks, 3 tackles for loss and 3 QB hits. 5. Schwartz, defense deserves credit—Normally the Saints not having Drew Brees at QB is a huge advantage for the team that is facing them. I get they had won the previous 3 games without him, but really the offense struggled for large portions of games until Hill took off down the field. Furthermore, it was a little deceiving on offense as the Broncos game, Hinton couldn’t sustain offense and eventually the dam broke for the Broncos defense. Unfortunately, the Eagles this year have really not been overly great at stopping running QBs. They have crashed too hard which gives running lanes like what we saw with Daniel Jones. However, in this game, I thought the Eagles were really good at not losing containment. Hill had 5 rushes for 33 yards. Considering that in his last three starts Hill had 49, 44 and 83 yards rushing it was a huge win for the Eagles. Additionally, the Eagles forced him to be a passer. They did this by being able to keep him inside the pocket but also getting off the field in the first half. In the first half, the Saints offense looked like this: punt, missed field goal, punt, interception, punt and punt. The Saints had a total of 92 yards. Due to the Saints being behind 17-0, the Saints were forced to move away from their running game to try to get back into the game. It was a great plan until the Eagles slowly kept losing secondary players left and right. Once Maddox, Slay and McLeod left the game, the Saints were finally able to take advantage through the air. Nevertheless, the Eagles were able to hold the Saints to just 21 points, which is a solid feather in their cap. Yes, the Saints were able to score 21 points in the second half, but the defense to made some timely plays like Sweat’s strip sack and Hargrave’s second sack when the secondary was completely in shambles. I think next week is a fascinating matchup. Likely to be down multiple secondary players and facing one of the best WRs in the league in Hopkins; If not the best in the NFL. I also think it is going to be quite the challenge to limit Murray’s ability to keep plays alive and keep him contained. I thought the Giants held him to 52 yards rushing but he had some backbreaking pick ups with his legs to keep drives alive. 6. Creating turnovers-- Coming into this game, the Eagles were 0-8-1 when they created/forced 1 or fewer turnovers in a game. They were 3-0 when they have been able to force 2 or more turnovers. Today was more of the same as the Eagles were able to get a timely interception off of Hill by Duke Riley. Additionally, Josh Sweat was able to run down Hill to force a strip sack. Both of the Eagles turnovers were able to set up the Eagles offense with great field position. This has been a big time issue for most of the season for the offense. From those two turnovers, the Eagles were able to convert them into 10 points. Without those 10 points off of turnovers, the Eagles do not win this game especially with Jake Elliott missing a field goal like he did. That said, the Eagles really need to start creating some of these turnovers against the better Qbs in the league. In the four games where they have won and created 2 or more turnovers, they have faced Mullens, DiNucci, Daniel Jones and Taysom Hill. Not exactly the cream of the crop. I think next week against Kyler Murray is going to be interesting. I do not think the Cardinals offense has been playing all that great over the last few weeks. The Rams game is a little misleading as they got some garbage time points and yards. I think Murray can be careless with the ball at times. 7. Singleton and Riley—Last week against Green Bay I thought the Eagles linebackers played well at times, but you just couldn’t overlook the big plays that they were a huge factor in. The Tonyan touchdown, the Jones rushing touchdown and Mercedes Lewis’ big 36-yard reception. While most of the game Edwards and Singleton were solid, it took just a couple of plays by Rodgers and the Packers to exploit them and put points on the board. In this game, I thought Singleton was much better at avoiding giving up the big play or finding himself out of position. He finished the game with 11 tackles and a QB hit. This marks the 4th time in the last 5 games he has led the Eagles in tackles. It is also the 4th time in the last 5 games he has had double digit tackles. While he did get beat on a spectacular catch by Cook for the touchdown, I thought he was all over the place and kept his discipline, which is not something you could say last week. As for Duke Riley, this might have been his best game of his career. He has had plays here and there throughout his career, but I thought he stepped in for Edwards and played extremely well. He wasn’t caught out of position in the running game. Made a hell of a stop on a 3rd and 1 to prvent the Saints from picking up a first down in the second quarter. Additionally, he seemed to not get burned in the passing game and actually was able to pick off Taysom Hill off a ball that was deflected by Kamara to set up an Eagles field goal. While I still think the Eagles need to address the LB unit this offseason, it was nice to see Riley and Singleton play well against a team that has the likes of Kamara and Cook. I think next week is going to be another tough task as they are likely to be spying on Murray as well as asked to cover Arnold who is really emerging at the tight end position for the cardinals. Additionally, Kingsbury loves to exploit Edmonds out of the backfield. 8. Run defense was solid; containment was excellent—When you look at the box score it will show the Saints ran the ball 20 times for 96 yards and a touchdown. However, I thought this was an excellent performance by the Eagles. Since Hill had taken over for the Saints, they have rushed for 166, 229 and 207 yards. Also in those 3 games have combined for 8 rushing touchdowns. It tells you just how dynamic this team is at running the ball and if you allow them to get a lead they will smash it down your throat and have no problem doing so. So the 96 yards the Eagles were able to hold the Saints to in this game is about 105 yards less than their average since Hill took over. I am still really impressed by how far the Eagles have come in their containment since the Giants game in the Meadowlands. I felt like this stretch of games could be disastrous for the Eagles as they were going to face Baker Mayfield, Wilson, Rodgers, Hill and Murray. All of whom will take off and run if you allow them to. To their credit they have given up just 18 prior to this game and in this 4 game stretch they have given up just 51 rushing yards to the QB position. That would be just over 12.5 rushing yards per game. That is quite the improvement we had seen from earlier in the season where lamar Jackson and Daniel Jones gashed them. Furthermore, they were able to keep Kamara in check. Some of this falls on the fact the Eagles were able to get out to a big enough lead where the Saints couldn’t just rely on Kamara. Kamara finished with 50 rushing yards on 11 carries (4.5 yards per carry). Overall the Saints running backs had 15 carries for 63 yards, which is 4.2 yards per carry. Like I have stated before, I think Murray is a big time challenge for the Eagles. Watching him on All 22 and live on tv, he wants to run the ball and it really seems to get him going. I know on 3rd and 4th and short they will run a read option where he tends to keep the ball and make you pay for crashing down. So the Eagles must continue this current trend of containment. 9. OLine’s 12 new unit works—I think it is obvious to just about everyone how bad Jason Peters has been for much of this season. The fact of the matter is that Herbig is a better player at this stage of his career than Peters. I get Herbig isn’t perfect and had a bad false start penalty inside the red zone, but he was still much better than Peters. Does this mean that Herbig is a future starter at guard? I think that is a little much. I think Hurts ability to run and moving Hurts around helped him out along with the OLine in general. It also helps that Seumalo played much better this week then he did last week. I thought Seumalo was owned repeatedly last week when I watched the All-22. Frankly I thought the entire line besides Mailata was less than stellar. In this game, the OLine really stood tall. They didn’t give up a sack the entire game against one of the better defensive lines in the league. In addition they only gave up 3 QB hits all day. Morevoer, they were able to contribute to the 246 yards on the ground as well. I thought this was one of the best performances we have seen from the Eagles Oline on the season. Was this because Hurts was back there? I think it is a combination of Hurts being back there and taking off when guys were not getting open. He was quick and decisive with the ball. I also think Doug and the offense did a good job with timely rollouts and moving the pocket as well. If the Eagles are able to get this type of performance on a weekly basis from the offensive line then you could see the offense being able to look more and more competent. I know the Cardinals have gotten hot over the past two games and recorded 14 sacks so it should be a nice challenge next week. 10. Utilizing Reagor’s speed—For the second consecutive week, the Eagles utilized Reagors speed in the running game. It has been something I have been asking for since the beginning of the season because he has the speed to take it around the edge and get you a good chunk of yardage. On his only run of the game, the Eagles dialed up some trickery and he was able to scamper for 19 yards. I also thought the Eagles did a great job utilizing his speed in space to spring him for a 39 yard catch and run. However, I do think Ertz should have been called for a OPI as he began blocking way before the ball got to Reagor and it cleared the way from him to rumble down the field for 39 yards. However, I am glad the Eagles are beginning to utilize his speed whether that be a punt return or a run or in the passing game. I get people are down on him cause he is not Jefferson and even to the point of saying he doesn’t look fast. I do not worry about that aspect of Reagor’s game. I know he is an athlete. I know he can run fast cause I have seen it at TCU. I think the thing you want to see more of from Reagor is learning to run routes better. It was an issue at TCU and pre-draft. I do think the lack of an offseason due to the pandemic as well as missing weeks does not help him in this area. I think this is more of an offseason thing that he and the coaches have to work at. I do believe he can be a very good player in this league. My comparison for him coming out was Chris Chambers. He has shown the last two games as he has had a big time punt return, a 34-yard reception and a 39-yard reception along with 12 and 19-yard rushes. He is a big play waiting to happen if you can cater to what he thrives at, which I don’t believe the Eagles did a very good job at earlier in the season. 11. Eagles run, run, run—The Eagles rushing attack in this game gave the Saints fits. Whether it was the running backs or Reagor or Jalen Hurts. In this game, the Eagles had 36 rushing attempts for 246 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Sanders, Scott combined for 17 rushes for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Hurts took off 18 times for 106 yards. The RPO in this game was huge. I thought Hurts did a good job of catching the Saints defenders off guard. You could see them take some poor angles or crash down too hard and Hurts utilized his legs to make them pay. There was one play where the Saints DT just had no chance as he turned the corner. There was no one close to him because the linebackers got sucked in as Hurts went to the outside. Additionally, it was nice to see Doug stick with the run in this game. It wasn’t very pretty for Miles Sanders early on in the game. Like I said previously, he had just 7 rushes for 14 yards before he popped one off for a big time touchdown. Granted after that score, I thought the Eagles didn’t get Sanders the ball enough. He had just 6 carries the rest of the game and 3 came on their only touchdown drive of the second half. To me, the best way the Eagles can win games is if they can run the ball like they did today. You aren’t always going to get 82 yard touchdown runs but you have to give Sanders the touches because he is too good of a player and can break one at any time. Furthermore, I think Hurts athleticism and ability to run makes the Eagles dynamic. If he is asked to throw 40+ times I am not so sure the Eagles are going to be in the best position to win. I also think by running the football, you are doing something this team’s oline has shown it can excel at over the last month. I pointed this out last game, the Eagles before the GB game had shown improvement in the running game since the bye week. It was unfortunate that the Eagles just continued to not stick with it cause I do think it gets the OLine going and allows them to beat down on their opponent as well as build up confidence. 12. Using your speed—I was actually happy that the Eagles activated Quez Watkins. I thought at this point in the season you really have nothing to lose and maybe he brings something you’ve been missing. Unfortunately, wasn’t thrilled it was at the expense of Hightower. I would like to see Watkins, Hightower and Reagor all on the field at once and cater the play towards utilizing their speed pre-snap, in motion and down the field. That said, I thought the Eagles did a good job of utilizing the speed they acquired in the draft pre-snap. On Watkins’ only touch of the game, they had him in pre-snap motion and able to get him going up field. While the play only resulted in 3-yards it was the fact they finally got to doing this after months where I have come on here and complained. I think you can use Watkins even more on some reserves or trick plays going forward if he is comfortable with the playbook. Additionally, running an end around with Reagor was a nice play that we have all asked for much of the season. I think the Eagles could do more as the season continues getting more of their speed on display down the field. They tried one play to Reagor down the field early but it appeared as if the wind got the ball and Reagor wasn’t able to get there to make the completion. I am hoping that as Hurts improves as a passer and becomes more accurate, the more dangerous the speed element down the field can become. To his credit he did have two good throws in the Packers games, but I felt like the Eagles likely didn’t take as many shots down the field due to the Saints defense. 13. Red zone offense—Another aspect that the Eagles looked to improve upon in this game was the red zone offense. Heck last week they managed not to even get into the red zone. However, in this game, the Eagles were able to move the ball into the red zone on 3 occasions. Sanders was able to plow in from one yard out and Alshon caught his only pass of the last three weeks which was a 15-yard touchdown and matched his season total of 15-yards. The Eagles would have walked away with 17-points in this game if Elliott could kick field goals and not try to kill momentum. Inside the red zone, I liked the fact that they gave Sanders touches. In the 3 trips inside the red zone, the Eagles gave Sanders 3 carries of their 6 plays (excluding plays with penalties) inside the red zone. I think that is a way to be very effective. I also think the Eagles could try to incorporate some motion to get Reagor coming across pre-snap and get him on a shovel pass as well as Goedert. Goedert is particularly the guy I would want to get on this. He is able to use his big body to run over people much like I have seen the Chiefs use Kelce in that type of way with the shovel pass. I also believe with Hurts ability to run you could get some defensive lines crashing down and be able to get him rushing on the outside. I think another aspect we haven’t seen this year that we had in past year’s is Ertz. I think he is a weapon that can be utilized much more than what we have in the red zone since he has been back. I am willing to bet next week we see some sort of play designed to him. 14. Penalties—The Eagles over the last two weeks have been much better in terms of their penalty yardage. In the Seahawks game they had some boneheaded penalties. Malik and Slay getting personal foul penalties. They also had lack of focus penalties. In this game, the Eagles were called for 5 penalties for 27 total yards. Over the last two weeks they have been called for just 9 penalties for 67 yards. That is an average of 4.5 penalties and 33.5 penalty yards per game. This is a trend you’d like to see continued. It is a long trip to the west to play Arizona. A lot of teams from the East that do it, tend to take a quarter to two quarters to adjust. I am curious to see if the Eagles can continue this trend for the third consecutive week. 15. First half offense— A bugaboo of the Eagles so far this year has been how they have started games. It’s not very often that the Eagles have had a lead at halftime. In fact they haven’t held a lead at halftime since week four against the Niners where they went into the locker room up 8-7. Additionally for the second week in a row the offense was able to move the ball methodically down the field on the opening drive and kill a lot of clock. Last week it was a 15 play 41 yard drive of 7 minutes resulting in a field goal. This week it was a 13 play, 39 yard drive of 8 minutes. Unfortunately it didn’t result in any points as the eagles turned the ball over on downs. The Eagles in the first half were able to score their highest output since week one when they scored 17 first half points as they matched that total thanks to the defensive turnover and Elliott missing a easy kick. Additionally the Eagles were able to put up 299 yards of total offense. Since the Eagles bye week they have managed 3,0,6 and 3 points in the first half of each of their games. This was by far their best first half since the opener against Washington On the fence: 1. 15 rushes from Hurts—While it was nice to watch Hurts use his legs on the perimeter to pick up some first downs and keep drives alive, I am not sure you can survive an entire 16 game schedule with your QB running the ball 15 times a game (3 kneel downs taken out). They’re a couple of reasons why I think this way. We have seen the league this year catch up to Lamar Jackson and since the Cardinals Hail Murray, the Cardinals offense has struggled to find consistency. A large reason for the ups and downs for Murray and Lamar is teams are gearing towards taking the run away. They are forcing them to be passers to beat them and limiting their best ability. I think at some point the league makes an adjustment and you have to counter with the adjustment, which is usually showing you can throw the ball consistently and be competent at it. Against the Saints, I thought he looked capable of throwing the ball. I do not know if the Eagles were forced to throw the ball and abandon the run if Hurts is capable of doing that now. Second, I am not sure you can survive the beating you are going to take running it that many times and the hits you are going to take while standing in the pocket. Eventually it will accumulate and wear you down. I think cause he is 22 years old that he will be fine, but as he gets older and more games on his body, it catches up to you. At this point in time it is fine, but as we go forward for the rest of the season I think we will eventually see an adjustment from defenses and to me that is where we are going to see whether he is a franchise QB. 2. Wins against bad QBs —I am always excited to get a victory especially over Sean Payton who is a dbag. However, the more and more I look at the Eagles I still sit here wondering what good QB have they beaten this year. The wins the Eagles have compiled have come against DiNucci, Daniel Jones, Taysom Hill and Mullens. None of those QBs I believe are high quality starters in this league. Frankly I think the only one who has a legitimate future as a starting QB is Daniel Jones and imo he is a bottom third of the league starter. I understand, the offense, Wentz and Doug are to blame for some of the losses this year, but the Eagles defense has faced Wilson, Rodgers, Big Ben, Goff and Lamar Jackson. They have surrendered 38, 30, 23, 37 and 30 points in those four games. So against the better QBs in the league they are giving up 31.6 ppg. Yes the Eagles offense had turnovers in those games, but they didn’t keep them out of the end zone or hold to a field goal attempt. Some of it is on them. Additionally, in those 4 contests, they have gotten 2 turnovers and one of the turnovers was by special teams. So in five games the defense has created 1 turnover against those QBs. While I love what the Eagles defense brought in this game and they played their tails off, I also realize Hill shouldn’t be a starting QB. In fact this lost likely is going to come back and bite the Saints in a ass as I think the Packers win homefield advantage throughout the playoffs (own tiebreaker). In addition, I do not think the Packers and Saints even tie. I see GB winning out and the Saints if Brees isn’t back next week are likely going to get demolished with Hill at QB. The Bad: 1. Fumble late in the 4th— The Eagles were up 10 trying to salt the game away and then the dreaded turnover happened. The Eagles gave up a touchdown off that turnover and the Saints to cut the lead back to 3 and nearly lost an onside kick. The fumble by Hurts could have been extremely costly on a day he did almost everything else right. It is a good lesson for the young QB. That every play matters and you have to protect the ball at all costs. Frankly, I really didn’t like the fact Sanders didn’t get the ball to put that game away. I do not know why, but it feels like the coaching staff just doesn’t trust him with the ball in his hands. I feel as if we should be trying to build up this part of his game and show him confidence that he can do it late. 2. Wide receivers are still not good enough—When I watch this game, I still just do not think the Eagles wide receivers are good enough. I think as teams adjust to Hurts and the offense, the passing game is going to have to be better in order to win. I don’t think besides Reagor that any of the guys currently playing are starting caliber WRs in the league. I had high hopes for Fulgham, but he has faded away into obscurity. As for Jeffery, it was nice to see him make one catch for a touchdown and get a PI call, but he is not what he once was and is gone next year. I like Watkins and Hightower as developmental guys. However neither is ready right now to be big time contributors. I tend to think Hightower and Watkins are more likely suited to be 3rd and 4th WRs in an offense in the NFL. I would be very surprised if either winds up being high quality starters in the league. Jjaw I am not going to even discuss because frankly I think he is gone before the start of next year. I would say the Eagles should go out onto the free agent market and sign a veteran, but I do not think the cap space is going to allow them to do such. I think you are likely looking at the draft again. Now would you take one in the first round? I don’t know how the board is going to fall. They currently sit at 9th. If they stay around there the best WR that should be available is Smith out of bama. If they move up into the top 5 then they likely have an excellent chance at Chase. Either way, I really do not believe the Eagles have to legitimate outside starting corners on this roster heading into free agency. Reagor definitely can be, but I think counting on Hightower, Ward, JJAW and Watkins just to develop into that would be a mistake. 3. 3rd down defense—It wasn’t an awful performance by the Eagles on third down, but I thought the Eagles defense in the second half really began to fall apart in this area. Against the Saints, the defense was 5-12 (41.7%) on third down. In the first half of the game, the Eagles defense held the Saints to 2-for-7 on third down, which was 28.6%. It is why they were able to go into the locker room with a 17-point lead. In the second half, the injuries started coming and the Eagles were just 3-for-5 on third down. While I think the injuries had a part in this, the Eagles defense also missed opportunities on tackles. The first two drives of the second half for the Saints that resulted in touchdowns, the Saints converted a 3rd and 6 and a 3rd and 8 with a QB that isn’t known for throwing the ball down the field. Over the last two weeks, the Eagles have given up 10-24 (42%) conversions on third down. 4. December adjustments—I heard the post game comments made by Hurts saying the team just executed better than they have and that was the difference. I would agree they executed much better against the Saints and played their best all around game of the season. I would disagree that was the only reason for the success. I would also say there were many more rollouts with Hurts than we have seen over the past couple of weeks. I do not have the exact number, but I will post after I get to re-watch the all 22, but I am willing to bet it double the total we have seen over the last two games against the Seahawks and Packers. If you don’t believe that then I do not know what to tell you. The tape will bare this out. Additionally, I have asked all season for more pre-snap motion and more creative plays utilizing the speed of Reagor. The end around with Reagor might have been the most creative play we run over the last 4 weeks. The fact we actually got Watkins in motion pre-snap to get him the ball on a pass is only the 3rdtime in the last month we have run something like that. Additionally, we had guys in motion much more than we have in the past. Additionally, it feels like forever since Sanders actually got 18 touches in a game. In fact it has been 3 weeks since the Eagles have gotten him more than 15 touches. Feels kind of like clockwork with the Eagles. Every December we seemingly make adjustments to the personnel we have and the players we have at our disposal. 5. Angles and tackling in the second half—Nothing irks me more than a guy who should be dropped for a nice loss, but winds up picking up positive yards, which keeps drives alive. NRC had a chance to bring down Johnson for a loss on the play. Instead he fails to complete the tackle and the drive is kept alive and the Saints eventually score a touchdown on it. While the Eagles lost guys in the second half of the game, they had a bunch of poor angles and bad tackles that helped the Saints gain some momentum. I thought in the first half the Eagles did a much better job of bringing down the ball carrier and limiting their YAC production. 6. Second half adjustments made by Saints to Eagles offense— While the first half offense looked really good and probably should’ve had more points on the board if not for Jake Elliot missing a field goal, the second half offense just did not have the same juice as it did in the first half. In the second half, the Eagles possessions went like this: punt, downs, punt, TD and fumble (end of game last possession). This was likely as the Saints are a very good defense and eventually I think they kind of caught on to what the Eagles were trying to do. It’s why in the second half the Eagles only managed 6 first downs as compared to 15 in the first half. The Eagles also only had 104 total yards in the second half as compared to 299. The Saints did a good job to adjust to Hurts running ability. He had just 32 of his 106 rushing yards in the second half. Furthermore there touchdown drive had the majority of those yards as it was a 53 yard scoring drive. I think part of the reason that drive was successful was because the Eagles gave the ball to Miles Sanders inside the red zone and they were able to run the ball effectively. He had three of his six second-half carries on that drive. Additionally Reagor and Hurts added 28 yards on the ground. I’m curious to see as the weeks go on and more tape comes out how teams are going to adjust to Hurts ability to run. I think the obvious is teams are going to try and force him to beat them with his arm and limit his ability to run. Which I think is important for the Eagles to see what adjustments he can make and if he continues to progress as a passer. I think in the NFL you can win regular season games running an offense like Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson do. But when you get to the playoffs you have to be good enough as a passer to beat the better teams in this league. I also thought the Saints came out flat in this game like they expected the Eagles to just roll over and die. Like the Eagles would have nothing to play for. That doesn’t take away from what Hurts and the Eagles did on offense in this game but I am intrigued to see what would happen if the two met up down the road. The ugly: 1. 3rd down efficiency on offense—An area where the Eagles have struggled all year has been on 3rd down. In this game it wasn’t much different. The Eagles finished the game 4-for-13 on third down, which is just 30.8%. This is the second consecutive week the Eagles were 4-for-13 on third down. Like most of the season, the Eagles found themselves in 3rd and long way too many times. Of the 13 third down attempts, the Eagles were in 3rd and 7 or longer for 6 of those attempts. On the season heading into the game, they were converting on just 19% of those 3rd and 7+. In this game, they were just 1-for-6 on those 3rd and 7 or longer, which is 16.7%. For the season, the Eagles have had 166 third down attempts and 87 have been of the 3rd and 7+ variety. I feel like I say this every week, but if we are going to be in third and long half of the game then it is really hard to consistently sustain offense. It is why in the second half we saw the Eagles struggle to move the ball as consistently as in the first half. 2. Big plays on defense— The Eagles for most of the game did an excellent job limiting the big plays. However, in the second half as the Saints started to gain some momentum on offense, the big plays began to return. Two of the three touchdowns the Saints had came on plays of 37 and 20 yards. Furthermore, the Eagles defense gave up plays of 20, 22, 32, 37 yards on the afternoon. Since the bye week, they have given up 14 plays of 30+. They have given up 21 plays of 20 yards or more. Additionally, in the last 3 weeks, they have given up touchdowns of 77, 25 and 37 yards. With the secondary potentially being in shambles going into the Cardinals game next week, the Eagles really have to rely on their defensive line to step up again and I think the offense is going to have to score in the 30s to walk away with a win against Arizona. 3. Losing nearly the entire secondary— I don’t know what it is, but the Eagles just cannot avoid the injury bug. In this game (second half) they lost Slay, Maddox and McLeod. That is 3/4thof their starting secondary. It is just amazing how the Eagles get guys back and then a week or two later lose like 3-4 guys due to injury. I am not sure which of them are going to be back for next week’s game against Arizona, but if all three of them are out then I fully expect the Cardinals and particularly Hopkins to just take full advantage of a depleted secondary. I am not even sure if all three miss who would be the starters. I imagine Jacquet if healthy enough would be one of the starting corners. I think at safety you’d have to go with Wallace and Epps. 4. Mr. Momentum Killer—I feel like every week it is the same old story with Elliott. The Eagles right before the half have a chance to add onto their 17-point lead. And instead of going into the locker room up 20-0 with all the momentum in the world, he misses a chip shot field goal and it feels like the Eagles lost some of their mojo. The next thing you know the Eagles come out of the locker room and have their first three and out of the game. Then the Saints march right down the field for a touchdown. It was a chance for the Eagles to really stick it to the Saints and instead Elliott managed to botch the situation. This has been a routine theme dating back to last year. On the year, Elliott is just 13-for-18 on the season. That is a pathetic 72.2%. Compared to the rest of the league that would place him 29th in the league. This doesn’t include the fact that he has missed 2 extra points in the previous two matchups. On the season he is 1-for-3 from 20-29 yards and just 2-for-5 from 50+. Since the Super bowl, he has just been 6-for-14 from 50+; in the super bowl year he was 5-6. Elliott sifned a 5 year $19 million dollar contract extension, but he really hasn’t yet to recapture his production from the super bowl year. If the Eagles wanted to cut him they cant. It costs $5.4 million in dead money compared to just $3.3 million against the cap to keep him. At this point I think the Eagles are likely stuck with him. 5. Stop using Greg Ward as a returner—Not sure how many more times the Eagles have to watch Ward field punts to understand he just is not very good at it. When the Eagles drafted Jalen Reagor it was cause they believed he could be a good outside WR but also he was an electric and dynamic returner. He is healthy now and last week showed what he could do as a punt returner. He is a game breaker in that area and can flip field position on any punt. Instead we continue to use Ward who continues to be uninspiring as a returner. His long on the season is 22 yards and he is averaging 6.8 yards per carry. However he is 5th in the league in fair catches. I think my biggest issue with Ward is he lets the ball go over his head way too often. I get if it is inside the five you let it do that, but he has been doing this when it hasn’t been inside the 5. I want to see what Reagor can do on a consistent basis. I get high chance he could get hurt, but at this point we are trying to see what areas of this team need to be address heading into the 2021 season. At this point, I think we know Ward isn’t the guy for the job in 2021. 6. Ertz lousy season; lost value—While Wentz has had the biggest regression and fall off in play since the 2019 season, Ertz isn’t too far behind. I understand he has missed some time this year, but even before the injury he was very underwhelming. He was dropping passes. He was short arming some of the balls thrown his way. He also just didn’t look like his heart was in it. This game, I give him credit he had an excellent block on the Sanders long touchdown run. He also had a nice block (OPI) that allowed Reagor to get open so he could run down the sideline for 39 yards. However, he left a lot to be desired in the pass game. He had 2 receptions for 8 yards. On the season, he has 26 receptions for 209 yards and a touchdown. This is a far cry from just a season ago where he compiled 88 receptions for 916 yards and 6 touchdowns. He will be lucky if he gets to 300 yards with how this season is going. I tend to believe there is still a market out there for Ertz. I think a contending team would be willing to give up a draft pick to acquire him. However, I am not sure what that compensation will be. I would’ve said maybe a 3rd but now I think the Eagles would be fortunate to get a 4th. I think you might see a deal for a 2022 draft pick based on his production in the 2021 season. I don’t think you want to bring him back at his current cap number, but I doubt he is willing to restructure his deal. I think the Eagles might have to settle for lackluster compensation as his value has really dropped this season. Maybe there is a team that believes this is a blip on the radar, but at his age it could just be a decline. 7. What to do with Wentz—Watching this game, it is obvious that Wentz was part of the problem with the Eagles. Heck Doug is 11-2 in his last 13 games where Wentz isn’t the Qb. So there is obviously blame on Wentz as I have thought his mechanics have been inconsistent all year and even dating back to last year. Additionally, I think he was pressing out there and forcing things. I would also say, he needs to rely on his guys to make plays. Finally, I think he was seeing ghosts out there so even when he has things that should be easy completions, he gets jittery or his eyes go to where he believes the pressure is coming from.I think the Eagles are in a tough spot. I do not think 4 games of Hurts is enough of a sample size to know what he is. I feel like it usually takes the league 5-6 weeks to figure out rookies and adjust to what you are doing. You are currently seeing that with the Chargers and Justin Herbert. Over the last 3 games, Herbert has really slowed down and has struggled. The offense has scored 17, 0 and 17. He has thrown 3 touchdown passes and 5 interceptions. I thought he looked better today against Atlanta then the previous 2 weeks, but he didn’t seem like he did earlier in the year when he was on a roll. Obviously I think you play the stretch out with Hurts. Hopefully for the Eagles he continues to progress and build off each start, which he has a chance too as the next two weeks aren’t against as talented of a defense. I think during the offseason you are going to have to make a difficult decision to move forward with Hurts or Wentz. If a team is willing to give you something that you believe is fair compensation for Wentz then I could understand making the move. However, I do think there is risk in that. If he goes somewhere and thrives then you might have sold low. If he goes somewhere and Hurts doesn’t develop like you hoped then you are back in line needing to find another QB. I do not know what the Eagles will do. I tend to think it comes down to what Lurie wants to do and what changes he makes. He has the most power in the organization and I do not think we truly know how he feels about Howie, Doug and Carson. 15 5 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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