The real reason the Eagles aren't very good right now

The real reason the Eagles aren't very good right now

Maybe they’re just not that good.

Maybe they’re just not that talented.

Maybe they just don’t have enough elite players.

Think about it. 

Nobody on this team is playing at an elite level. Not a soul.

And that's a tough way to win.

The older players the Eagles were counting heavily on are either hurt or their level of play has declined significantly (or both). The younger players they were counting heavily on are underachieving or regressing. 

So when things start going bad, there’s really nobody on either side of the ball to pull the Eagles out of it.

The usual defensive stars, guys like Malcolm Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham haven’t been awful. But they sure haven’t made the game-changing plays you need from your best players.

The key guys on offense? Zach Ertz has decent numbers, Alshon Jeffery has been OK, Jordan Howard has been all right, Nelly is just kind of floating through. None of them has come close to making a huge impact.

The young guys? Miles Sanders has shown a nice knack for catching the ball and getting down the field, but it’s not like he’s taking over games. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside hasn’t done anything. Derek Barnett shows flashes but has made headlines more for his personal fouls and fines than his sacks. Andre Dillard, too early to say. The young corners? You know that story.

I thought both lines would dominate. Hasn’t happened. The defensive line hasn't gotten pressure, and the offensive line hasn't run blocked or or pass protected consistently.

Then there’s Carson.

He hasn’t been terrible. He certainly hasn’t gotten any help from the people around him, and his numbers are OK. He’s had stretches where he looks unstoppable. Flashes of brilliance.

But he also hasn’t been elite, and he’s the one guy more than anybody the Eagles really need to carry the team through rough stretches.

It’s only six games, and the Eagles are 3-3 in a division where nobody has a winning record, so anything’s possible. The Eagles still have time to get back to the top of the NFC. Heck, seven of the last nine times they’ve been 3-3, they’ve reached the playoffs.

But let’s be honest. The Eagles deserve every bit of that 3-3 record. They’re an average team right now with average talent.

Yeah, the Packers win was remarkable. To go into that building and win that game on a short week? Amazing.

But a loss to a Falcons team that’s now 1-5 cancels that out. And their wins other than the Packers? Over two one-win teams. 

At some point, and that point is growing closer, the focus has to turn from the secondary and wide receivers and pass rush and running game to Howie Roseman.

He built the Super Bowl roster — along with Joe Douglas — and he deserves all the accolades he got for that.

But the biggest challenge for any championship team — in any sport — is figuring out how to stay on top, and the only way to do that is to constantly replenish the roster with young talent and fill in the blanks with free agents.

Hasn’t happened.

Wentz is the only Pro Bowler the Eagles have drafted since 2013, and Chip Kelly obviously plays a small role in that as well because the 2015 draft was his, but in the big picture, the lack of young talent on this roster is alarming.

Not just OK players who may have a terrific game here and there. But young, elite, playmaking, impact, superstar talent.

You watch other NFL teams and you see these young stud cornerbacks and hot-shot wide receivers and eye-opening rookies and budding superstars.

It’s not happening here. The young guys are either not ready or never will be, the older guys are fading or hurt and the guys in between just haven’t been good enough.

If the season ended today, the Eagles wouldn’t have a slam-dunk Pro Bowler. Not one. Maybe Fletcher Cox would go because he always goes. Maybe Brandon Brooks. 

But right now, this is a team without a single guy playing at a superstar level.

Doug Pederson and his staff certainly deserve some of the blame for this uninspired six-game start. But it's not hard to wonder just how much talent they really have to work with.

There’s 10 games left. Plenty of time to go on a run, put together a winning streak, start playing like the Super Bowl contender a lot of people expected this team to be.

Remember, the Eagles lost by 14 in Seattle in 2017 and didn’t lose a meaningful game the rest of the year. They lost by 41 in New Orleans last year and then won six of their next seven.

The loss Sunday to the Vikings was only the Eagles’ third by more than seven points over the last three seasons, and they followed the first two with runs to the playoffs.

To do that again, the Eagles need elite play from their elite players.

And right now it’s fair to wonder how many of them they really have.

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A-plus for running backs, disappointing defense and more in Eagles-Redskins report card

A-plus for running backs, disappointing defense and more in Eagles-Redskins report card

Another game-winning drive led by Carson Wentz and the defense does just enough to defeat Washington, 37-27, on Sunday — but there was one unit in particular that stood out and earned an A-plus on this week’s Eagles report card.


Carson Wentz: 30/43, 266 YDS, 3 TD

There’s plenty to nitpick about Wentz’s game, including a bad fumble in his own end, but he threw three second-half touchdowns. The second score was a 15-yard laser on the run, past the outstretched hands of two Washington defenders, and the third, a perfectly placed four-yard over-the-shoulder floater over tight coverage. Wentz also missed some throws that would’ve extended drives, but that’s back-to-back clutch performances for the Eagles’ franchise quarterback.

Grade: A-

Running backs

Miles Sanders: 19 ATT, 122 YDS, TD, 6 REC, 50 YDS, TD

The kid does it all. Sanders averaged 6.4 yards per carry, his vision and physicality on full display. And on his 15-yard touchdown catch, the rookie exhibited veteran instincts, finding a spot all alone in the corner of the end zone, and tremendous body control to stay in bounds. Boston Scott added 65 yards of total offense.

Grade: A+

Wide receivers and tight ends

Greg Ward: 7 REC, 61 YDS, TD

You can see why the Eagles waited until they were literally forced to put JJ Arcega-Whiteside on the field. He dropped one touchdown, killed another drive with a holding penalty and finished with zero catches. Good games by Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and Ward, the latter of whom caught the game-winning touchdown, as all three finished with at least five receptions and 55 yards receiving.

Grade: B

Offensive line

Paved the way for a huge day on the ground, with 157 yards rushing on 5.6 yards per attempt. The pass protection was mostly reliable as well, minus a few hiccups, allowing only six quarterback hits and two sacks — one of which was entirely the result of the quarterback holding the ball too long.

Grade: B+

Defensive line

Brandon Graham: 5 TKL, 2 TFL

Not only did the Eagles fail to register a sack against Washington — they didn’t even hit the quarterback as far as the statkeepers were concerned. And a typically strong front against the run didn’t even do a particularly outstanding job there, allowing a 34-year-old running back to amass 66 yards with a 4.1 average. The front was a bit more disruptive than the numbers suggest, but not much

Grade: C-


Nathan Gerry: 4 TKL

It’s a good thing Nigel Bradham returned a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the game, otherwise an Eagles linebacker may not have had his name called all game. That’s a bit of an exaggeration obviously, as the unit combined to make nine tackles, but the unit’s missed tackles were certainly a lot more memorable.

Grade: C-


Avonte Maddox: 3 TKL, 2 PD

Washington’s rookie quarterback entered the game completing 55 percent of his passes for 6.1 yards per attempt with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. So naturally, he was 19 of 28 with a 9.3 average, two scores and no picks against the Eagles. Maddox had a particularly rough day, with a missed tackle resulting in a 75-yard catch-and-run to the end zone and another touchdown in coverage — though he responded with a pair of pass breakups.

Grade: C-

Special teams

Jake Elliott: 1/1 FG, 4/4 XP

For the second week in a row, Cameron Johnston’s punts were once again critical plays, twice pinning Washington’s offense inside its own 15-yard line on three tries. Neither possession ended in points.

Grade: A-


Eagles’ record: 7-7

Not sure how Jim Schwartz managed to make a rookie quarterback who had played poorly up to this point look like a stud, but he found a way. Doug Pederson almost got away from the run at one point mid-game, yet he went back to it and got some big plays. Bottom line, this team is fighting tooth and nail and doing just enough to win in the end. You just have to wonder if effort alone will be good enough to beat Dallas next week.

Grade: B

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Eagles at Redskins live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 15 game

Eagles at Redskins live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 15 game

4:08 p.m.: Greg Ward Jr. just came up clutch with a four-yard touchdown catch. Give credit to Carson Wentz for bouncing back with that drive. That fumble was brutal, but he had another clutch drive. 

The defense got a touchdown at the end to close out the game. 

Final: Eagles 37, Redskins 27 

3:54 p.m.: Dustin Hopkins just drilled a 43-yard field goal to give Washington the lead. They got the ball with great field position after a terrible fumble from Carson Wentz. 

Still 4:52 left: Redskins 27, Eagles 24 

3:41 p.m.: Tie game. Dustin Hopkins just hit a 53-yard field goal to tie it up. 

With 8:02 left: Eagles 24, Redskins 24 

3:34 p.m.: The Eagles answer right back. On a 3rd-and-11, Miles Sanders took a draw and went 56 yards for a first down. Sanders is up to 124 rushing and 170 scrimmage yards today. Good fight from the Eagles’ offense. Let’s see if the defense can finally get a stop. 

Still 9:59 left: Eagles 24, Redskins 21 

3:23 p.m.: The Eagles’ offense finally scored and then their defense gave it right back on a 75-yard touchdown drive. Gross. 

Adrian Peterson just punched in a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Redskins a lead. 

With 14:53 left in the game: Redskins 21, Eagles 17 

3:19 p.m.: We’re heading into the fourth quarter. The Eagles have a three-point lead but Washington is driving at the end of the third quarter. 

After 3: Eagles 17, Redskins 14 

3:11 p.m.: Holy cow! That was an insane throw from Carson Wentz on the 15-yard touchdown to Miles Sanders. Legitimately one of the best throws I’ve ever seen him make. Rolling right, through traffic to Sanders in the back of the end zone. 


Eagles take a lead. 

Still time left in third: Eagles 17, Redskins 14

2:28 p.m.: That’s it for the first half and we’re in a tight game here in Landover. 

The Eagles are getting out-gained 216-194. They’ve given up two touchdowns and this is just the second time all season the Redskins have scored 14 points in the first half. The other time happened in the opener against the Eagles. Washington came into today averaging 14 1/2 points per game. They pretty much did that in the first half. 

Meanwhile on offense, the Eagles scored on their first two drives and then punted on their next two. 

At half: Redskins 14, Eagles 10 

Eagles get the ball back to start the second half. 

1:57 p.m.: The Redskins just took back their lead on a seven-play, 75-yard drive in 2:55. Dwayne Haskins is having a good game so far. He’s 7/8 for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Haskins hit Steven Sims in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-goal. 

There’s 6:58 left: Redskins 14, Eagles 10

1:45 p.m.: Miles Sanders just passed DeSean Jackson for the Eagles’ rookie record for scrimmage yards. He’s been great this season and he was good on that drive. 

The Eagles went 75 yards on 6:18 and Sanders punched in a 1-yard touchdown. On that drive, they were bailed out by a weak roughing the passer call that went in their favor. 

Still 9:53 left in the half: Eagles 10, Redskins 7

1:33 p.m.: That was a quick first quarter. The Redskins are up but the Eagles are driving. Zach Ertz was just took a cheap shot from Montae Nicholson, but he looks to be fine. 

After 1: Redskins 7, Eagles 3 

1:26 p.m.: Well, Terry McLaurin didn’t beat the Eagles deep down the field, but he still scored a 75-yard touchdown. He caught a ball in the middle and Avonte Maddox missed the tackle. 

That was quick. 

Later in the first: Redskins 7, Eagles 3 

1:23 p.m.: The Eagles just went on a 16-play, 88-yard drive that took 7:40 off the clock. They eventually had to settle for a 25-yard field goal. Zach Ertz had three catches for 48 yards on the drive. 

Late in the first quarter: Eagles 3, Redskins 0 

1:10 p.m.: The Eagles gave up a few first downs on the opening drive but eventually forced a punt. Dwayne Haskins was getting the ball out quick on that drive. Seemed like a concerted effort to do that. 

1 p.m.: Eagles win the toss, defer. Defense up first. 

11:30 a.m.: Here’s the full list of Eagles’ inactives against the Redskins: 

Lane Johnson (ankle) 
Nelson Agholor (knee)
Jordan Howard (shoulder) 
Derek Barnett (ankle) 
Nate Sudfeld 
Sua Opeta 
Shareef Miller 

For Washington, guard Brandon Scherff is out. That's a big deal and good news for Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan inside. Watch for those guys to eat today. 

11:14 a.m.: A few scenes from early warmups: 

10:13 a.m.: Some good injury news a little over an hour before inactives come out. 

9:56 a.m.: It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Landover. We got really lucky. It was raining all day yesterday and it’s supposed to snow tomorrow. We’ll take a 50-degree day with sun for the game. 

8:28 a.m.: Good morning! It’s game day and I have had my coffee, so we’re good to go. The only injury question heading into today for the Eagles is about Ronald Darby, who is questionable after suffering a hip flexor injury in practice on Friday. The Eagles already ruled out Lane Johnson (ankle), Nelson Agholor (knee), Jordan Howard (shoulder) and Derek Barnett (ankle). 

The Eagles play at 1 p.m. and if they win, it’ll be worth watching the Rams-Cowboys game at 4:25 p.m. If the Eagles win and the Cowboys lose, it’ll set up a situation where the Eagles can clinch the division against the Cowboys in Week 16 and basically give themselves a Week 17 bye. 

But first the Eagles have to take care of business against Washington. Here are five matchups to watch. 

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