Eagles

Who is ultimately responsible for Eagles' offensive collapse?

Who is ultimately responsible for Eagles' offensive collapse?

So many breakdowns. So many culprits. So many people to blame for an embarrassing offensive collapse like this.
 
Carson Wentz has to be better. He has to hit guys when they’re open. He has to chuck the ball away instead of taking bad sacks and fumbling. 

The receivers have to be better. That’s obvious to anybody paying attention. They have to help out their quarterback, make the routine plays and maybe a great one here and there.
 
The offensive line has to be better. Less than 2½ yards per carry in the second half against one of the NFL’s worst run defenses is unacceptable, even without Lane Johnson.
 
Mike Groh, Duce Staley, Press Taylor, Carson Walch … all the offensive assistant coaches have to be better. They all have a role in putting together the gameplan, figuring out how to attack, preparing players for what they’re going to see, making in-game adjustments.
 
Howie Roseman has to be better. A lot better. This is his roster, and it’s not his fault guys keep getting hurt, but it is job to replace them with the best available players, and that clearly hasn’t happened.
 
They’re all responsible. They all have a piece of this. 
 
But one person is most responsible, and that’s Doug Pederson.
 
He’ll always be a legend for bringing a Lombardi Trophy back to Philly, but when you have an offensive head coach and the offense has been this wildly inconsistent, it’s on him.
 
Why can’t the Eagles put together two halves of quality offensive football? That’s ultimately on Doug.
 
Why does the play-calling often seem predictable and stale? That’s ultimately on Doug. 
 
Why are wide receivers not improving and in some cases regressing? That’s ultimately on Doug.
 
Why can’t the Eagles make a play down the field? That’s on Doug, too.
 
Sunday was one of Doug’s worst days. 
 
If you’re up 10-0 early in the second quarter in your own stadium against a team with very little firepower, you have to find a way to finish that thing off. I don't care who you're playing.
 
I get that the Patriots have a great defense and one of the best coaches ever, but 10 straight drives without a point is inexcusable. After the Eagles took the 10-0 lead, their last 10 drives ended with seven punts, a fumble, a failed 4th down and the end of the game.
 
While Bill Belichick was over on the other sideline figuring out what the Eagles were doing and how to stop it, Doug Pederson kept handing the ball off to a fumble-prone practice squad running back.

This just in: You're not going to beat Bill Belichick with Boston Scott.
 
That the Eagles went down with their dynamic rookie running back getting just five touches in the game's final 43½ minutes is incomprehensible.
 
If you’re going to lose, lose with your best guy out there.
 
I know Sanders was banged up there for a minute, but he missed part of only one series, and he wound up playing 64 snaps — almost double his previous career high.
 
Yet after a terrific start — 6-for-29 on the first three drives — he got just five carries on the Eagles’ last 10 drives.
 
Against a defense allowing an NFL-worst 5.6 yards per carry since Week 4.
 
That was right out of the Andy Reid Playbook.
 
The one thing about Pederson since he got here is that he’s always had an answer. There have been ugly stretches before and he’s always been able to figure things out. 
 
He’s navigated the Eagles through a lot of adversity over the last 3½ years. Through an astounding number of injuries to critical guys, through too many off-the-field distractions, through bad losses.
 
Sunday was ugly, but I still believe the NFC East is still there for the taking if the Eagles beat the Cowboys on Dec. 22.
 
For that to happen, everybody has to be better. But more than anything, Doug has to be better.

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Cooking up on-field comfort food with Carson Wentz

Cooking up on-field comfort food with Carson Wentz

Doug Pederson called Monday night’s 23-17 win over the Giants the best game of Carson Wentz’s career but it certainly didn’t start that way. 

After the Eagles’ second drive of the third quarter, Wentz was actually struggling. 

So what changed? 

Well, the Eagles’ offensive coaches cooked up some “comfort food,” as offensive coordinator Mike Groh called it, for Wentz. 

“I wouldn't want to give away any game-plan secrets there,” Groh said. “But I'm sure you can speculate a little bit as to what those things might be. But try to find easy completions where you can get the ball out of your hand in rhythm and once you get one or two of those, a lot of times you just kind of settle in the game. And then the game comes to you.”

Rhythm can be an important thing for quarterbacks and Wentz is no different. Groh said we could speculate and it isn’t hard to figure out how the Eagles were finally able to get Wentz into a rhythm in the second half on Monday. 

On the third drive of the third quarter, the Eagles began to use an up-tempo offense and utilized short throws and screen passes. 

It worked. 

Just take a look at Wentz’s splits before that drive and after it began: 

Before: 12/23, 98 yards, 63.3 passer rating 

After: 21/27, 227 yards, 2 TDs, 126.4 passer rating 

First, the tempo really seemed to work. The Eagles have used the no-huddle plenty during Wentz’s four years in Philly and it’s just up to Pederson’s discretion. They have even opened games with it before. 

“That’s one thing I’ve always loved about coach since I’ve been here is he has a feel for when we need something to change,” Wentz said. “When we’re struggling. Sometimes we do tempo early because that’s what we see when we’re scouting other teams, that’s what we see is going to work. Sometimes we get to it later in games. Some games we don’t even use it. I think coach has a really good feel for it. I think that was the case the other night. I think that definitely helped us get out of the rut we were in.”

Aside from going with tempo, the Eagles made life easier on Wentz with shorter passes. There were plenty of easy reads, screens and throws to the flat. Those aren’t necessarily all easy throws to make, but they’re also not 20 yards downfield. 

On the tempo drive and the one that followed it, the Eagles seemed to get Wentz in a rhythm. None of the first eight passes on those two drives traveled more than 10 air yards.  

Against the Giants, this is what worked. But the specifics sometimes change. 

“The so-called 'comfort food,' it’s all based on what coverages we’re getting, how teams play us,” Wentz said. “But that concept, just finding completions, finding a way to get into a rhythm. Like I said, each week is always different, but there’s always those completions within a game that do kind of get you going and get you going in the right direction.”



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5 matchups to watch as Eagles visit Redskins in NFL Week 15

5 matchups to watch as Eagles visit Redskins in NFL Week 15

The Eagles (6-7) head to Washington to face the Redskins (3-10) on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field. 

Here are five matchups to watch: 

Dwayne Haskins vs. Jim Schwartz 

Case Keenum was still starting in the opener, so this will be the Eagles’ first shot at the rookie first-round pick. Haskins has played in seven games this year with five starts and is 2-3. He has completed just 55 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

Since Jim Schwartz became defensive coordinator, the Eagles are 4-1 against rookie starting quarterbacks: Dak Prescott x2, C.J. Bethard, Mitchell Trubisky and Luke Falk (the only loss came to Prescott in 2016). In those five games, those quarterback have three touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

And those four quarterbacks in five games have combined for a passer rating of 53.8. 

Schwartz on Wednesday was asked how playing young quarterbacks benefits his defense. 

“I don't know, I've never really thought about it that way,” he said. “We have a job to do every Sunday and we try our best to accomplish that. Every game plan is different, every experienced quarterback is different and every rookie quarterback is different. So, I don't know if there would be a whole lot of carry-over from week-to-week. I don't have a folder somewhere that says, ‘Rookie Quarterback’ and you pull that out and that's the game plan. It depends on a million different other considerations going into it.”

Terry McLaurin vs. Eagles corners 

In his first NFL game, McLaurin had five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles in the opener. That included a 69-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. 

The Eagles have been susceptible to big plays before. And McLaurin has the ability to make big plays. He has averaged 15.3 yards per catch this season. 

Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills will have to be ready for the speedy rookie. 

Adrian Peterson vs. Eagles linebackers 

The future Hall of Famer isn’t playing like he’s still in his prime, but he’s still one of Washington’s biggest weapons. And he still ranks tied for fifth in the NFL in average yards after contact per attempt at 2.7. If you miss tackles against him, he’ll make you pay. 

“He's strong, still has great vision and is a very productive runner,” Schwartz said. “We're going to have our work cut out for us. We saw it last year. He's one of those guys that if you fit a run wrong, he can make you pay by taking it to the house. He did it against us in that first game last year.”

Miles Sanders vs. Washington run defense 

Washington is bad in several key areas. One of them is rushing defense, where they’re giving up 134.8 yards per game. But it’s important to note that they’re giving up just 4.4 yards per attempt. So they’re not really as bad as they appear. 

In that opener, the Skins really bottled up Sanders, who had 11 carries for 25 yards and one catch for two yards. But since then, Sanders has really come around and is having one of the better seasons we’ve ever seen from a rookie in Eagles history. 

Coming into Sunday’s game, Sanders has 948 yards from scrimmage this season. With three games to go, he is just 60 behind DeSean Jackson for the Eagles’ rookie record. 

Brandon Brooks vs. Matt Ionnidis 

The former fifth-round pick out of Temple leads Washington in sacks with 8 1/2 and has four in his last three games. Even without Ryan Kerrigan, who will miss this game, that’s still a relatively solid defensive line and Ionnidis has arguably been their best player. He primarily lines up on the left side of the defensive line, so we get to watch him go against Brandon Brooks, who has been playing like one of the best guards in the league this season. 

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