Eagles

Eagles defense forcing turnovers at an alarmingly low rate

Eagles defense forcing turnovers at an alarmingly low rate

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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2019 NFL playoff picture: The entire NFC East really, really, really sucks

2019 NFL playoff picture: The entire NFC East really, really, really sucks

The Eagles have won one game since the first week of November, and they’ve lost exactly half a game to the first-place Cowboys in the NFC East standings.

The Cowboys lost their third straight game Thursday night, falling to the Bears, 31-24, in Chicago.

This definitely helps the Eagles although not quite as much as you might think.

Here's why:

The Cowboys fell to 6-7 after a 3-0 start. The Eagles are 5-7 with a game Monday night against the 2-10 Giants at the Linc.

But even with Dallas losing Thursday night, the Eagles still have to beat the Cowboys head-to-head and win their three other games to guarantee that they win the NFC East.

That’s because the Cowboys can still lose to the Eagles and finish 8-8 overall and 5-1 in the NFC East if they beat the Rams next Sunday and the Redskins on the final day of the season.

But even with a win over the Cowboys, a loss in any of their other games — to the Giants home and away or the Redskins — would leave the Eagles 8-8 overall and 4-2 in the division.

The Eagles easily win the common opponents tiebreaker with the Cowboys, but that doesn't come into play unless the teams are tied overall, head-to-head and in division record.

But the Cowboys' latest loss does help the Eagles in that if the Cowboys lose to either the Rams a week from Sunday or the Redskins on Dec. 29, the Eagles could afford to lose one of their remaining games and still win the division at 8-8 if they beat the Cowboys head-to-head, since in that scenario the Cowboys would finish 7-9.

The website fivethirtyeight.com, which provides percentages for teams to reach the playoffs based on changeable variables, had the Eagles with a 34 percent chance of winning the NFC East before the Cowboys-Bears game. That would have gone down to 26 percent if the Cowboys won. Instead it increased to 41 percent. 

If the Eagles beat the Giants Monday night, their chances increase to 47 percent. 

It's been so long since either of these teams won a game it seems silly to even talk about the playoff picture. 

But somebody has to win the NFC East. 

We think?

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Eagle Eye podcast: Which coaches are on the hot seat?

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Eagle Eye podcast: Which coaches are on the hot seat?

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Nissan, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro react to Doug Pederson’s comments about coaching staff accountability and go through his roster of coaches. 

Kamu Grugier-Hill has a concussion. Mack Hollins is gone. Jordan Howard still isn’t cleared for contact and the team hasn’t been the same without him.

And the Eagles do have a game this week! 

• Marken Michel is back and Dave is happy 
• Kamu Grugier-Hill has a concussion 
• Doug says he’ll hold coaches accountable 
• Which coaches might not be back?
• Mack Hollins gets cut 
• A lot of big contributors have gotten cut
• Eagles really miss Jordan Howard 
• Miles Sanders and Saquon Barkley 
• At least one more game vs. Eli 

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