Here are three takeaways from Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh’s chat with reporters on Tuesday.
Let the play come to you
One of the big plays that stands out in that 21-17 loss to the Panthers on Sunday afternoon was the 3rd-and-2 in the fourth quarter when Carson Wentz tried to fire the ball into double coverage in the end zone instead of dumping it to Wendell Smallwood in the flat.
Wentz has already said he wanted that one back. On Tuesday, Groh said the coaching staff “absolutely” talks to Wentz about knowing when to make the smart play instead of the aggressive one.
“Well, I think he's an aggressive-minded quarterback,” Groh said. “He looks to push the ball down the field, which, like you stated, is his strength. We also try to emphasize at times where it's good to put the ball in play and let the system and the players around you work for you. So, I think there's a balance there and certainly don't want to take away one of his strengths, which we know has been a really successful formula for us.”
Groh said he doesn’t know how long it’ll take for Wentz to learn to make the smarter plays in those instances, but he’s right. It is a fine line.
Wentz wants to make big-time plays. Just last week, we were all praising him for his cross-the-body throw to Alshon Jeffery in the end zone. That’s a play no QB should make. It’s not that different than this one. Wentz tried to be aggressive when he probably shouldn’t have been. When it works, you tip your hat to him. When it doesn’t, we wonder how the coaches should teach him to avoid those plays.
Time for some balance
Last year, we always heard Doug Pederson rave about his team’s balance on offense. The Eagles were at their best when they were getting everyone involved in the passing game. That hasn’t happened as much this year. Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery have been great, but there hasn’t been enough production outside of them.
“We’ve got two guys that have playing at a very high level and they have been productive and have been getting the ball,” Groh said. “Carson has got a lot of trust in those guys and they have been getting themselves open. I think we did a good job of spreading the ball around. Dallas (Goedert) had some good catches down the field the other day, but we need to continue to do that and keep everybody involved. I do think that that helps every offense stay balanced and keeps the defense honest.”
In the four games since Jeffery has been back, the Eagles have really relied on Jeffery and Ertz — maybe too much. In those four games, Jeffery and Ertz have accounted for 53 percent of the Eagles’ receptions and 61 percent of the Eagles’ targets.
We need more points
As the blame game continues from that loss to Carolina, it has been brought up repeatedly that the Eagles can’t expect to win scoring 17 points. That’s fair. It’s even tougher after the offense scored an average of 28 points per game last season. They’re at 22 points per game in 2018 and that’s not going to get it done.
So what number is Groh shooting for?
“We’d like to be in that 30 range is where we'd like to be,” Groh said. “We know that if we get 25, then we've got a really good chance to win.”
The Eagles have scored more than 23 points just once this season. They put up 34 in the win over the Giants. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ opponents have scored more than 23 points just twice. It’s not hard to figure out that if the offense just gets it going, the defense will hold up enough to get some wins.
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