EAGLES

Eagles navigating a murderer's row of opposing QBs

EAGLES

Matt Ryan is in the top 10 in NFL history in touchdown passes and passer rating and is a future Hall of Famer. Dak Precott has the 6th-highest passer rating in NFL history. Pat Mahomes has the highest passer rating ever and is the only QB to reach two Super Bowls before his 26th birthday. Tom Brady is Tom Brady.

The Eagles have already faced a murderer’s row of quarterbacks, and it’s only Week 7. 

Up next Sunday is Raiders QB Derek Carr, who may not be in the same class as Mahomes, Prescott and Brady but is a three-time Pro Bowler who’s throwing for 324 yards per game, which would be 9th-highest in NFL history over a full season.

“We have faced a lot of top quarterbacks in this league,” cornerback Steve Nelson said. “It seems like every week in today’s game you’re going to face a top quarterback and they all have weapons. We just have to be sharp to the fundamentals and details and really play our tail off to come out with a win.”

Carr has been up and down this year – and for much of his career – but he’s averaging 13.1 yards per completion (3rd-highest in the league) and completing 64 percent of his passes with 10 TDs and four INTs. He’s thrown at least two TDs in five of six games. 

“He’s throwing the ball well,” Rodney McLeod said. “He’s putting it in great place for his receivers to make plays, he’s not making any incorrect decisions, he’s playing smart and he’s not turning the ball over, and he’s making the plays that come to him, and that’s what you want from your quarterback. 

 

“We’re going to have to compete in the back end, recognize their setups, understand what their receivers are doing.”

The Eagles’ secondary has played better than you might think. 

Even facing a number of high-powered QBs so far, the Eagles rank 5th in passing yards allowed, 8th at 6.4 yards allowed per play and 12th in interceptions per attempt. The whole idea of Jonathan Gannon’s defense is to limit big plays and force teams to drive the length of the field, and they’re doing exactly that.  The Eagles have allowed only seven pass plays of 25 yards, and only the Bills have allowed fewer (four).

The problem is when your defensive line doesn’t get pressure and your linebackers don’t tackle, elite QBs can drive the offense up and down the field without big plays. And the Eagles’ issues on run defense mean opponents have a lot of 3rd-and-shorts. And the offense’s issues mean the defense has had to play over 34 minutes per game, 2nd-most in the league.

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com does a ranking of every starting NFL quarterback that he updates every week, and the Eagles have already faced No. 1 (Brady), No. 3 (Prescott) and No. 6 (Mahomes), and on Sunday in Vegas they’ll face No. 7 in Carr.

But during the eight weeks between the Raiders and second Cowboys games, the Eagles face six QBs ranked 18th or lower (Jared Goff, Jameis Winston, Daniel Jones twice, Zach Wilson and Taylor Heinicke) as well as No. 15 Teddy Bridgewater. The only top-10 quarterback they’re scheduled to face over that two-month period is No. 2-ranked Justin Herbert in three weeks.

Here’s another way to look at it:

Composite career record of the six QBs the Eagles have already faced: 480-242 (.665). Only Sam Darnold has a losing record.

Composite career record of the next 10 QBs the Eagles are scheduled to face: 186-238 (.439). Only Goff and Bridgewater have a winning record.

Obviously Brady skews the numbers because of how many years he’s played and how many games he’s won, but you get the idea. 

Things should get easier, and the results should be different. You would think.

A lot has conspired against the Eagles’ secondary so far this year and while they haven’t exactly lit it up as a unit, they’ve hung in there as well as you could hope, all things considered.

And when the names on the back of the opposing jerseys turn from “Prescott,” “Mahomes” and “Brady” into “Heinecke,” “Wilson” and “Jones,” that sure won’t hurt.

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