Eagles

Doug Pederson's reasons why Eagles are falling short

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Doug Pederson's reasons why Eagles are falling short

What’s wrong with the Eagles? Doug Pederson on Wednesday boiled it down to two things he believes are holding the Eagles back the most:

1)  A lack of takeaways, and

2)  Poor offense in the red zone.

The difference between the 13-win Super Bowl champs and a third-place team sputtering along at 4-5 is not that great, Pederson believes:

Listen, we’re very close. We’re so close in a lot of areas. You look at our output and our production offensively, we’re very similar to what we were last year. We’re plus 30 passes down the field. Explosive passes, I think we’re second in the National Football League, we’re sixth at 20-plus explosive plays. Third downs, we’re within a percentage point or two of being where we were a season ago. The difference is creating turnovers on defense and then scoring in the red zone. That’s kind of what’s staring at us right in the face. And time of possession’s good, all those things we look at. Red-zone defense has been good throughout the season. We’ve got to finish better and we have to score more points.

Let’s take a look at those two key areas.

Takeaways

As Dave Zangaro wrote this week, takeaways are down dramatically.

The Eagles have generated just seven takeaways, fewest in franchise history after nine games and third-fewest in the NFL (ahead of only the 49ers with five and the Buccaneers with six).

The Eagles have gone three straight games without an interception and they have just one in their last five games. They’ve had a franchise-record seven straight games with one or fewer takeaway and they have just four since Week 3.

The Eagles last year finished fourth in the NFL with 31 takeaways, just three fewer than the NFL-leading Ravens.

Red-zone offense

Last year, the Eagles led the NFL with touchdowns on 71 percent of their red-zone drives, and they averaged 5.6 points per red-zone drive.

This year, those numbers have dropped to touchdowns on 54 percent of their red-zone drives (22nd) with an average of 4.8 points per red-zone drive.

Let’s examine some of Pederson’s other figures:

Third down

Although he is correct that the Eagles are close to last year on third down — 41.7 percent last year, 41.2 percent this year — the league average has increased dramatically, from 38.7 percent last year to 40.3 percent this year.

So after being 3 percent over the average last year, they’re less than 1 percent over the average this year.

Time of possession

Eagles led the NFL at 32:41 last year and are second at 32:22 this year. Virtually the same.

Big plays

Doug’s numbers are a little off regarding big plays. The Eagles were 11th last year in offensive plays of 20 yards or more (62) and 12th in plays of 30 yards or more (24).

This year, they’re 21st in plays of 20 yards (34) and eighth with 16 plays of 30 or more yards (16).

Other areas

Sacks are up from one every 15.7 pass attempts last year to one every 12.6 passes this year. Rushing average has dropped from 4.5 to 4.1. And first downs per game are actually up – from 21.1 to 22.6.

The conclusion?

The Eagles actually have done a lot of things well. Some things even better than last year.

But in those critical moments when games are won or lost, they are coming up small.

They have the talent to pile up stats all over the place and keep every game close, but they've have put together only one complete game.

And if things don’t change soon? The 2018 Eagles are destined to be forever known as a frustratingly, agonizingly, consistently underachieving football team.

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Eagles release popular special teamer Chris Maragos

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Eagles release popular special teamer Chris Maragos

Chris Maragos, the popular special teams ace whose career has been derailed by a serious knee injury, was released Friday by the Eagles.

Maragos, 32, played in 47 of 48 games from 2014 through 2016, mainly on special teams but a significant amount at safety in 2015. But he suffered a career-threatening knee injury against the Panthers in Charlotte on Oct. 12, 2017, and hasn’t played since.

Maragos, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Seahawks in 2013 in addition to one with the Eagles in 2017, made all the road trips with the Eagles this past season even though he had no chance of playing simply because he was so respected in the locker room and such an effective leader.

“I’m really more of a coach and cheerleader these days than anything else,” he said with a smile before one game this past season.

Maragos went undrafted out of Wisconsin in 2010 and after a season with the 49ers played three years with the Seahawks before signing with the Eagles before the 2014 season.

He was signed through 2019 and will count $250,000 in dead money against the Eagles’ salary cap, which gives the Eagles a $2 million cap savings.

Maragos earned over $10 million in his career, including over $7 million from the Eagles, according to Spotrac. His career earnings high of $2.5 million came in 2016.

Maragos has had two knee operations since originally getting hurt against the Panthers, most recently this past fall. 

Even healthy, Maragos probably wouldn’t have fit in the Eagles’ plans this coming season.

Since re-signing Rodney McLeod to a contract restructure that lowered his 2019 cap figure from $.9 million to $4.84 million, the Eagles have safeties Malcolm Jenkins, McLeod and Tre’ Sullivan under contract, along with Avonte Maddox, who can play either safety or cornerback. 

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Eagles sign Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato to one-year deals

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Eagles sign Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato to one-year deals

The Eagles will have all three of their specialists back for the 2019 season. 

On Friday afternoon, the Eagles announced they signed kicker Jake Elliott and long snapper Rick Lovato to one-year deals that will take them through the next NFL season. 

Both players were set to become exclusive rights free agents, so the Eagles basically controlled their rights. It should have been a no-brainer to bring both back. 

The deals are just one-year contracts similar to what the exclusive rights deals would have been, according to league sources. 

Punter Cameron Johnston was already under contract for the 2019 season, so the trio of specialists will be intact for at least one more year. 

Elliott, 23, joined the Eagles in Week 2 of the 2017 season when Caleb Sturgis was injured. The Eagles signed him off the Bengals’ practice squad; the Bengals had drafted him in the fifth round. With the Eagles, Elliott went on to have a really good rookie season, highlighted by the 61-yard game-winner against the Giants in Week 3. He also hit a 42-yarder and a 46-yarder in Super Bowl LII. 

In both of his first two seasons with the Eagles, Elliott has made 26 of 31 field goal attempts. He is 7 of 11 from 50-plus during his first two NFL seasons. 

Lovato, 26, joined the Eagles in Week 15 of the 2016 season after Jon Dorenbos broke his wrist. The next year, Lovato beat out Dorenbos for the long snapper job. When Lovato was signed during 2016, he had been working at his family’s restaurant in New Jersey. 

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