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10 Eagles who have to start playing better

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10 Eagles who have to start playing better

A lot of the focus on the Eagles’ 2-4 start has been on the deficiencies of Nick Sirianni and his coaching staff.

And many of those criticisms are valid. Other than the opener in Atlanta, the Eagles have not played a consistent 60-minute game. They’ve lost four of their last five games, and in their one win since Week 2, they trailed by 12 points before a late comeback.

But let’s look at this a little differently for a bit. Yes, the coaching has been inadequate, but let’s not leave the players totally off the hook, either.

Coaching and execution are closely tied together and it’s impossible to isolate one from the other. But there are a number of Eagles who are clearly underachieving, including some of the team’s highest-paid players.

Here’s a look at 10 Eagles who have to play better if this team is going to start winning some games.

Derek Barnett: Barnett has gotten some sporadic pressure, notably in the Panthers game, but the former 1st-round pick remains without a sack this year. Out of 22 NFL defensive ends who’ve started at six games, he’s one of only two that doesn't have a sack. Going back to last year, he’s gone nine straight games without a sack. Barnett has just 19 ½ sacks in 54 career games.

Fletcher Cox: I don’t think Cox is washed up, but he’s clearly not the player he used to be, and at $17 million per year he’s being paid to be one of the top interior linemen in football. The domination we're used to seeing just isn’t there. Cox is only 30 but he’s had a number of nagging injuries and he’s played a lot of football – over 7,000 snaps in his 10-year career. This is a guy who routinely created havoc on the line of scrimmage and right now it’s just not happening. 

Landon Dickerson: Dickerson came here with such a resume it seemed like the only question was his health. If he could stay healthy, he’d be a stud. Well, he’s stayed healthy for the most part, but he’s been surprisingly shaky in his four starts, two at each guard spot. Dickerson is very accountable and understands he needs to be better, but it has been concerning to see him struggle for much of the first month of his NFL career.

Jake Elliott: He did have the big 58-yard field goal in Carolina, but consistency continues to elude Elliott, who’s ranked 23rd in the league at 78 percent on 7-for-9. It’s not a lot of attempts, but he’s got misses from 46 and 47 yards and that’s 74 percent territory for the rest of the league. Coming off last year, when he was a brutal 14-for-19, I expected Elliott to bounce back. But he’s now 82 percent inside 50 yards since the start of last year, and that ranks 28th of 30 kickers (including all kicks he’s 26th of 29 at 75 percent). 

Jalen Hurts: There’ve been a lot of positives and some truly exciting moments, but six games in, we still haven’t seen the consistency we need to see from the 23-year-old quarterback. As a passer, Hurts has had two very good games (Falcons, Chiefs), two decent games (49ers, Cowboys) and two poor games (Panthers, Buccaneers). He’s kept the Eagles in games with his running ability, but if he doesn’t show significant growth as a pocket passer he’ll ultimately be too limited to lead this team over the long haul. It’s early. It’s only six games. It’s way too soon to make any judgments. But he has to be better.

Ryan Kerrigan: Here’s Kerrigan’s snap count week-to-week: 35-32-27-22-21-18. Notice a pattern? Even with Brandon Graham out for the season, he’s seen his playing time decline every week. Kerrigan has played 155 snaps and has one tackle, and he got it when Chuba Hubbard ran right into him. But the Eagles need all the help they can get pressuring from the edge. Their defensive ends have a total of 1 ½ sacks in six games, all by Josh Sweat. Maybe the 33-year-old 4-time Pro Bowler has nothing left, but the Eagles could sure use something out of him.

Jalen Reagor: Last year’s 1st-round pick has 17 catches for just 140 yards through six games. That’s 396-yard pace for a 17-game season. There are 116 players in the NFL with more yards than Reagor and 83 with more catches. Reagor averaged 36 yards per game and 12.8 yards per catch last year. He’s down to 23 yards per game and 8.2 per catch this year. Over the last three weeks, he’s just 4-for-33 and in the loss to the Bucs he was held without a catch for the first time in his career. It’s not all his fault, but he has to make more plays.

Alex Singleton: Singleton has taken a step backward from last year, his first as a starter. He’s still piling up the tackles – he's 3rd in the NFL with 67 – but he just hasn’t been as solid as he was in 2020 both as a tackler and in coverage. For the first time since he began playing last year, Singleton didn’t start on Thursday night, and he was limited to 63 percent of the snaps, his lowest total since he became a regular on defense (other than the Atlanta game, when the starters sat out at the end with a big lead). When you start losing playing time in this linebacker group, that’s concerning.

Josh Sweat: He hasn’t played terribly, he’s gotten more pressure than any of the other linemen other than Javon Hargrave, and there are moments where you see why the Eagles gave him a $40 million contract. But the Eagles are still not getting the production they need from Sweat to be considered a big-time player. I thought this would be a breakthrough 12-sack sort of season for Sweat in Year 4, and it still might be, but he’s got 1 ½ sacks to show for six games and while sacks aren’t the only measure for a defensive end’s production, they're a big one. His 1 1/2 sacks ranks him tied for 85th in the league. With B.G. out and Barnett and Ryan Kerrigan not contributing much, the Eagles need more from Sweat.

Eric Wilson: I can say he’s gotta be better, but honestly it’s pretty clear that’s not going to happen. Wilson has played poorly, and after playing 73 percent of the defensive snaps the first four games he’s down to 36 percent the last two. Honestly, I’ll be surprised at this point if he lasts the season.

https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/10-eagles-who-have-start-playing-better

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They consciously paid Sweat 13 mil a year to play half the snaps.  That's what happens when you can't draft.  You end up overpaying the few who are functional.  

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Yeah, Sweat has absolutely been my most disappointing player this season. I had pretty low expectations for Barnett, so I haven't been all that disappointed with his lack of production, but we really needed Sweat to take another step after signing him for big bucks and losing Graham for the year. If anything, he's taken a step back. 

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