10 things Eagles need to revive inconsistent offense

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10 things Eagles need to revive inconsistent offense

There are a lot of reasons the Eagles are 4-4 a year after winning the Super Bowl.

Tops on that list?

Points. Not enough of them.

Defensively, the Eagles have had their issues, especially late in the Titans and Panthers games, but the bottom line is, they've allowed the exact same number of points this year after eight games (149) as last year.

The offense, however, has dropped from 26 points per game a year ago to 22. That's a 15 percent decrease.

If the Eagles had scored 26 points in each game this year, they'd have one loss. Their losses have been by 6, 4, 3 and 2 points.

"The reality is we're not getting killed by these teams," Jason Kelce said. "It's three or four plays ultimately making the difference and the more we can stay disciplined and the more we can eliminate mistakes, we're going to win more of these close games. Hopefully, we can start to develop some momentum and make them not close at all. Our defense really isn't paying bad. I'm sure if you asked them they'd say there's things they need to improve on. At the end of the day, we need to put up more points to help them out."

What has to happen for the Eagles' offense to start rolling again?

1. Pass protection

The Eagles ranked 13th last year in the NFL in sacks allowed at 6.4 per 100 pass plays. They're down to 22nd this year at 8.4. Halfway through the season, the Eagles are on pace to allow 52 sacks, which would be their most in 20 years. They've got to sort out their O-line issues, which won't be easy with Lane Johnson out for a few weeks.

2. Running game

The Eagles are averaging just 4.1 yards per carry this year (22nd in NFL) after averaging 4.5 last year (fourth-best). There've been flashes, but they haven't been able to find any consistency with the ground game. No Eagle has had 40 rushing yards in back-to-back weeks all year.

3. Play-calling

Maybe it's the loss of Frank Reich, but Doug Pederson's play-calling magic has been missing, and too often the offense simply has been unable to find its rhythm early. The Eagles are 30th in the NFL with just 21 first-quarter points and 22nd with 77 in the first half. Not easy to recover from those slow starts.

4. Converting 3rd-and-Long 

The Eagles got themselves out of some tough spots last year by converting 29 percent on 3rd-and-10 or longer, third-best in the league. They've tumbled all the way to 12 percent on those plays this year, 28th-best in the league.

5. Scoring at home

The Eagles have failed to score more than 21 points in their first four home games for the first time since 1998, and they've lost two of those games despite allowing 21 and 23 points. They need to get back to dominating at the Linc.

6. Field position

The Eagles' average drive started at the 29.8-yard line last year — third-best in the NFL — but has started at the 25.9-yard line this year — third-worst. This has a lot to do with the lack of takeaways by the defense as well as the return game.

7. Carson on 3rd down

Wentz was best in the NFL on third down last year, with a 123.7 passer rating and 65.3 percent accuracy, and he converted 50 percent of the time. This year, he's down to 59 percent accuracy with a 99.1 rating and 44 percent conversions.

8. Red zone

Wentz last year completed 65 percent in the red zone and converted 60 percent on third down. This year, he's at 53 percent and 23 percent on third down. As a result, the Eagles have dropped from first in the NFL in red-zone scoring last year (66 percent) to 17th (55 percent).

9. Big plays

Last year the Eagles hit on 16 plays of 40 yards or more, including the postseason. This year, they have four. Just in the running game, they had 24 running plays of 20 or more yards last year, including the postseason. They have three this year, none over 21 yards.

10. Turnovers deep in opposing territory

The Eagles committed only three turnovers in 19 games inside the opposing 40 last year. They've already committed six in eight games this year and they probably cost the Eagles the Panthers and Vikings games.

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Eagles vs. Giants live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 14 game

Eagles vs. Giants live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 14 game

4:06 p.m.: I have arrived to Lincoln Financial Field and it’s raining pretty hard. Not many tailgaters in the lots and I can’t blame them. It’s pouring and a Monday afternoon. 

At least it’s relatively warm today, though. 

The forecast has called for rain all week, so it’s not like this is a surprise. In fact, Doug Pederson was even asked on Saturday about how weather affects his play calling. 

“With play calls, it’s really determined on really when we get to the game and see how much it's raining or the wind, all that,” he said. “You really just go in the whole week and prepare as normal.

“I think for me, if I'm preparing the team I do want them to understand that there could be some weather coming in here, so obviously cleats, the grass, all of that. I want them to understand that we can make those adjustments now and prepare for that now. But as far as the play calls, you really don't know until you see exactly in-game how bad it's raining or the wind at that time.”

In the past, Carson Wentz has thrown wet footballs during the week before games where rain is expected. He said it helps. 

3:50 p.m.: The Eagles will be in black uniforms tonight and a bunch of them will have personalized cleats for the NFL’s “My cause, my cleats” campaign. 

Here’s a look at all of them: 

9:57 a.m.: Good morning, everyone! 

We have waited a long time for tonight, but the Eagles will host Eli Manning and the Giants tonight at the Linc. Here are five matchups to watch.

If you’re heading to the game, bring your rain gear. 

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What has Miles Sanders done to turn his season around?

What has Miles Sanders done to turn his season around?

Remember how overmatched Miles Sanders looked after gaining just 25 yards on 11 carries in the opener against the Redskins? Remember how lost he looked a week later when he was just 10-for-28 in Atlanta?

Three weeks into his rookie season, Sanders was averaging 3.1 yards per carry and ranked 28th out of 33 qualifying running backs.

Six from the bottom.

Since then?

Sanders has blossomed.

In the Eagles’ last nine games, Sanders is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, 7th-best in the league of 53 backs during that span.

Six from the top.

In a season with very few positives, Sanders’ development has been fun to watch.

What’s been the difference?

Sanders is just seeing things better, he’s running more decisively and he's moving the chains forward.

Nothing demonstrates that better than his percentage of carries that have gone for one or fewer yards.

In his first game, more than half his carries went for one or fewer yards (6 of 10). Through five games he was still at 35 percent, with 19 of 53 runs that went less than two yards.

In the last seven games, that number has dropped precipitously. Of his 62 carries since the Vikings game, only nine — nine of 62 — have been one or fewer yards. 

“I feel like I’ve been getting better and better each week,” the second-round pick from Penn State said. “Everybody’s been telling me that, but most importantly, I’ve been noticing it myself, just trying to get better and do it each week. I feel more confident just as far as reading where I’m supposed to be, getting my eyes in the right place and just playing ball out there.”

Sanders has 520 rushing yards and needs 118 to break LeSean McCoy’s franchise rookie rushing record of 637, set in 2009.

He has 879 scrimmage yards and needs 130 to break DeSean Jackson’s franchise rookie scrimmage yards record of 1,008, set in 2008.

Going into this weekend, he was second to Raiders 1st-round pick Josh Jacobs among rookies with 879 scrimmage yards and fourth in rushing (behind Jacobs, David Montgomery and Devin Singletary).

Is Doug Pederson using Sanders enough?

That’s a different question. 

Sanders is averaging 4.5 yards per carry overall but still has only the 30th-most carries in the league and the 25th-most touches among running backs. 

“I think you're seeing the patience in the running game,” Doug Pederson said. “His vision is better, it's improved from Week 1 to Week 13. The more he gets time, the more he gets snaps, the better he'll get.”

Sanders has taken care of the production. Now it’s up to Pederson to take care of getting him more snaps.

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