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10 moves that helped the Eagles turn their season around


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10 moves that helped the Eagles turn their season around


It’s pretty clear the Eagles are not the same team they were two months ago. Not even close.

Coming out of Vegas in late October, they were 2-5, they’d lost games by 6, 11, 12, 16 and 20 points, and they were ranked 23rd in offense and 24th on defense. Only the Jaguars, Dolphins, Texans and Lions had lost more games.

Since then, they’re 6-2, they’ve won games by 10, 11, 14, 15, 17 and 38 points and they’re ranked 2nd in offense and 5th on defense. Only the Chiefs and Dolphins have won more games.

A lot has changed on both sides of the ball. Some guys are playing more, some are playing less, some aren’t here anymore. Nick Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon are certainly coaching differently.

What’s changed?

Here are 10 changes that have helped transform the 2021 Eagles from a disaster into a team on the brink of a playoff berth.

Oct. 3: Landon Dickerson moves to left guard: It’s not that Isaac Seumalo wasn’t playing well, he was. But Dickerson has been a beast in his 11 starts at left guard. Dickerson started the season inactive after his December torn ACL and then started a couple games at right guard with mixed results. But he’s found a home at left guard, and he’s been as big a factor in the Eagles’ monster running attack as anybody.

Oct. 14: Three-way safety rotation: It’s happened gradually, but Jonathan Gannon is now using Rodney McLeod, Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps in a three-way rotation that seems to have brought out the best in all of them, especially the 31-year-old McLeod, who seems to have responded to having his snaps decreased coming off an ACL. Epps played a lot early when McLeod and Harris were inactive, but really starting with the Tampa game all three safeties have rotated, and it’s worked.

Oct. 15: Zach Ertz traded to Cards: It wasn’t easy to see Ertz go. He’s an all-time Eagle, a three-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl hero. But not only are the Eagles 6-3 since the trade (and the Cards are 5-5), Dallas Goedert has really responded to becoming TE1. In five games before the trade, he averaged 43 yards per game and the Eagles were 2-3. In nine since the trade, he’s averaged 60, and the Eagles are 6-3.

Oct. 24: Emphasis on running game: I really look at those first two drives against the Raiders before Miles Sanders' injury as the turning point. After ignoring the run for most of the previous five games, Nick Sirianni dialed up eight runs on the first two drives, and they produced 42 yards. Sanders ended up getting hurt on that second drive, and the Eagles quickly found themselves down 17 points, so no more running game. But at least those first two drives showed Sirianni the Eagles could run the ball, and a week later the Eagles ran 46 times for 236 yards in a blowout win over the Lions. They haven’t stopped running since.

Oct. 25: Gardner Minshew replaces Joe Flacco as backup QB: When the Eagles traded Flacco to the Jets, Minshew moved up from No. 3 to No. 2, and it paid off when he played terrific football in an important win over the Jets while Jalen Hurts nursed an ankle injury. There is no way on Earth Flacco would have played as well as Minshew, whose 133 passer rating is higher than any game Flacco has started in seven years. Not only did the Eagles get a draft pick, they upgraded the QB position.

Oct. 24: Jordan Howard and Boston Scott begin playing more: The first six weeks of the season, neither Howard nor Scott had a carry. Howard was buried on the practice squad and Scott was just playing special teams. But with Sanders out and the new-found focus on the running game, both became key contributors, and they’ve remained so even with Sanders back. The last six weeks, Howard is averaging 5.1 yards on 75 carries and Scott 4.6 yards on 66 carries, and they’ve combined for eight TDs. Non-factors early in the season but key contributors the last couple months.

Oct. 31: Jack Stoll starts playing more: You don’t hear his name much, but Stoll is a terrific blocker, and he’s been a significant component of the Eagles’ focus on the run game. The first seven games, the undrafted rookie tight end averaged 8 ½ snaps per game. With the running game becoming the focus of the offense, Stoll has averaged 30 snaps per game. He’s only caught four passes this year, but Stoll’s increasing playing time and the running game’s success definitely go hand-in-hand.

Oct. 31: T.J. Edwards snaps up: Before the Lions game? Edwards was averaging 23 snaps per game. Since the Lions game, 57 snaps per game. Moving Edwards into the starting lineup has given the defense a physical presence, a sure tackler and a smart communicator in the middle. So much changed with the Lions game, and Edwards has been a real key to the defense’s resurgence.

Nov. 3: Eric Wilson released: Wilson’s release showed that the Eagles weren’t going to stand pat and be content with poor play. The Eagles didn’t cut Wilson to motivate anybody, they cut him because he wasn’t playing well. But a move like that – cutting a starter seven weeks into the season – will definitely get everybody’s attention. It also gave Davion Taylor an opportunity to play more before he got hurt and led to Edwards’ increased playing time as well.

Nov. 21: Tarron Jackson snaps up, Ryan Kerrigan snaps down: It was a gradual shift, as Kerrigan, the veteran four-time Pro Bowler, played less and less and Jackson, the rookie 6th-round pick, played more and more. Through eight games, Kerrigan was averaging 24 snaps per game and Jackson was at 10. Since then, Kerrigan is at 15 and Jackson 18. And Jackson has been far more active than Kerrigan. Even though Kerrigan has still played more snaps, Jackson has more tackles, tackles for loss, forced fumbles and sacks than Kerrigan.


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