Eagles

Hidden in lopsided win: Eagles' passing game in a funk

Eagles

Hidden in a lopsided win, obscured by the 31 points on the scoreboard, is the sobering fact that the Eagles’ offense wasn’t very consistent against the Jets and the passing game has been in something of a rut the last couple weeks.
 
The Eagles have done enough to beat the Packers on the road and take care of the Jets and find their way to 3-2 after a 1-2 start, but the explosive, high-powered offense we’re used to seeing hasn’t been there.
 
• Carson Wentz, who began the season as the 17th-most accurate QB in NFL history at 63.4 percent, has completed less than 60 percent of his passes in four straight games, the first time an Eagles quarterback has done that since Donovan McNabb back in 2006. He’s second-to-last in the NFL in completion percentage at 60.3 percent — ahead of only Baker Mayfield.
 
• Wentz hasn’t connected on a pass play of more than 20 yards to a wide receiver in three straight games. That equals the Eagles’ longest such streak without a completion to a wideout since 2000.
 
• The Eagles scored just two offensive touchdowns against the Jets and both came on short fields — from the Eagles’ 47 and the Jets’ 42.
 
• The Eagles averaged just 2.9 yards per run, and even taking away two Josh McCown kneel-downs, that number goes up to only 3.1. After running on seven of nine plays on the first drive, a TD drive, the Eagles ran only six times out of 23 plays on the next five drives.
 
“We definitely have to be better,” Wentz said. “We have to stay ahead of the chains. We have to stay on the field. We know we can be better. We’ve shown it. We know we can. But we now have to execute it. Our defense played incredible. They put us in great situations. And you know, gave us 14 points. So they played great and again that’s a good defense but we can be better offensively.” 
 
The offense has functioned at a high level at times but not consistently. The problems have varied from drops to turnovers to penalties. 
 
On Sunday, the Eagles didn’t have any turnovers, but the offense committed five penalties for 41 yards.
 
It also didn’t help that the Eagles had 16 first downs where they gained three or fewer yards. When they ran the ball on first down, they gained one yard or fewer eight times.
 
With DeSean Jackson out indefinitely, the offense just doesn’t have a lot of firepower right now.
 
Alshon Jeffery caught six passes Sunday but the longest went for 13 yards. Nelson Agholor has only one catch the last two weeks.
 
Miles Sanders, the rookie running back who was rarely a receiving threat at Penn State, actually has the Eagles’ three-longest receptions the last three games, all between 33 and 40 yards.
 
"You saw on offense how sort of average we played,” Doug Pederson said. “We would take, for instance, a first down run for eight or nine (yards) and we'd have a holding, or a pass and either give up a sack or a holding. The penalties just put us in too many long situations today, 2nd-and-long, 3rd-and-long. I haven't looked at the stat book yet, but I bet you many of those were 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long plays that it's hard to overcome in this league. And that's a good defense. That's a good front. But no, we offensively didn't play good enough. We have to look at it and make corrections.”
 
There are some positive signs:
 
• Wentz has thrown 92 passes the last three games without an interception, and he’s been sacked only once the last two weeks. So even though he hasn’t been putting up big numbers, he’s been playing mistake-free football.
 
• Jordan Howard has put together back-to-back solid games, with 149 yards an a 5.3 average, although he’s still averaging only 10½ carries per game.
 
• Zach Ertz continues to produce — he’s had at least 50 yards in all five games.
 
• The Eagles remain near the top of the NFL on third down. They’re second at 52.9 percent, behind only the Texans at 53.2. They’re also No. 7 in time of possession at 31:38.
 
• And they’re No. 5 in the red zone, converting 68.4 percent of their trips into touchdowns.
 
But the consistency hasn’t been there in either the passing game or the running game.
 
“We hold ourselves to high standards on offense,” Ertz said. “I don’t judge a game at the end of the day based off of how the defense played or how special teams played. I look at the offense and as an offense, I think the offense can play better and I know we will be better. We played better in the past. I am not overly concerned. Last week we were on a roll and we had to pick up the defense and this week it was the opposite. That is why football is the ultimate team game. It takes all three phases and at the end of the day, it is a win.”

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