Through nine games in the 2018 season, the Eagles are giving up 20.3 points per game, nearly identical to the 19.9 points per game they gave up through nine games during their Super Bowl season.
So what’s missing?
Well, it’s pretty simple. They aren’t getting any takeaways.
Through these first nine games, Jim Schwartz’s unit has just seven takeaways. That ranks as the third-fewest in the league behind Tampa Bay (6) and San Francisco (5). The Giants, Raiders and Ravens also have seven. The Eagles’ turnover differential is minus-6.
At 4-5, their seven takeaways are tied for the fewest in franchise history after nine games. The 1998 Eagles also had seven after nine games to go along with a 2-7 record.
To put it into perspective, the 2017 Eagles had 16 takeaways through nine games and a turnover differential of plus-6, to go along with their 8-1 record.
So why aren’t they getting any turnovers? Jordan Hicks can’t figure it out either.
Goodness gracious. It’s tough. It’s tough. A lot of times, you get opportunities … I feel like we had one opportunity this game with Kamu (Grugier-Hill) with a big ol’ thing on his hand. It’s tough on him. It’s tough. We gotta find a way to get the ball back for our offense, whatever it is. The quarterback may not give us an opportunity, we’ve got to get after that ball when it’s in the runner’s hands. We gotta go after it. We haven’t done that well enough yet.
The play in Sunday’s game that Hicks was talking about came in the first quarter. On 1st-and-10 from their own 8-yard line, Dak Prescott threw a ball intended for Amari Cooper that was nearly picked off by Kamu Grugier-Hill, who might have pranced into the end zone for a pick-6.
But Grugier-Hill recently had surgery on his thumb and was wearing a club on his hand. He couldn’t pull it in.
If Grugier-Hill was able to make this play, the Eagles could have finally taken a lead in the first quarter and maybe things end a little differently. But that’s kind of been the story for the Eagles this year. They aren’t capitalizing on their chances to force turnovers.
It’s not all on the defense either. The Eagles’ offense was able to get off to faster starts last season, which allowed the defense to attack and forced opponents to pass the ball. Everything works in harmony and the Eagles, as a whole, are a mess.
They have four interceptions. One each from Ronald Darby, Grugier-Hill and Rasul Douglas. And they have three fumble recoveries. One each from Hicks, Nigel Bradham and Malcolm Jenkins.
That’s not enough.
The lack of takeaways this year is pretty damning. They are one of 30 teams in NFL history with seven or fewer takeaways through nine games. Six of those teams are from this season and all six (Eagles, Raiders, Ravens, Giants, Bucs, 49ers) probably aren’t going to make the playoffs. And of the 24 teams to previously do it before this season, just six of them made the playoffs.
Good teams find ways to get the ball back.
Turnovers are hard to figure out. Some of it’s luck, some of it is being opportunistic. And some of it just comes down to guys making a play when the team needs them to make a play. The Eagles simply aren’t getting enough of that right now.
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