Will the Eagles be able to overcome the loss of future Hall of Famer Jason Peters? Photo credit: Wayne Terry, TPL.

An Eagles vs. Browns Haiku
What am I watching?
Is this even pro football?
Please draft, come very soon

In a game that shocked no one, the Eagles were beaten by the Browns on Sunday in another horrendous performance. Let’s dive into the game and talk about some performances.

Stock Down

Team Discipline

Is there any other team that jumps offsides as much as the Eagles? They have nearly double the league average of offsides penalties and neutral zone infractions this season and as a whole, the team is 10th in the NFL in penalties. When you are a bad team you can’t afford to give away as much free yardage as the Eagles do.  

The First Quarter

Usually, the Eagles have a terrible opening play call script that lends itself to slow starts. On Sunday, the playcalling pushed all the right buttons early on, and then Miles Sanders fumbled in the RedZone to kill the first drive. Richard Rodgers allowed a free run at Carson Wentz that led to a pick 6 on the 2nd drive. On the rare occasion that the Eagles actually call good plays, it still doesn’t work. That’s what this season is now.

Jason Peters

Jason Peters should have pulled a Vontae Davis and retired at halftime. In fact, retiring mid-season may be the only way Peters ever feels gratitude from Philly fans again. Peters has been abysmal on the field after showing his true colors this offseson. He surrendered 2 sacks to Olivier Vernon in the 1st half and looked generally helpless all game. Vernon ended the day with 3 sacks and 3 TFL. He only had 3.5 sacks all of last season. The last time Vernon had a game with 3 sacks was week 12 of the 2013 season. His 6 sacks + TFL equaled a career-best. I remember when receivers were almost guaranteed that they would set personal bests against the Eagles secondary. Now it would seem that opposing pass rushers have the same guarantee. The Eagles should bench Jason Peters (although he may ask for more money to move to the bench), but they won’t. Doug Pederson has already announced he will be the starter next week against the Seahawks. 

Third Down Conversions

After going 0-9 on third down a week ago, the Eagles went to the tape and found their problems executing on 3rd down. They put extensive work into their third-down efficiency and were rewarded by going 2-12 this week. That is a woeful 9.5% 3rd down conversion rate in the last 2 weeks combined. Even good teams won’t win doing that.

Greg Ward

Last week I felt that I clearly explained how punt returns work when I wrote:

In case you are new to the game of football, I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that despite what we saw on Sunday, the NFL does in fact allow for punt returners to catch a punt. I’m not really sure why Greg Ward was confused about this, but I wanted to make sure you weren’t.

It would seem that Greg Ward does not read my column and is still confused about how punts work. That’s too bad, because had he read it the Eagles would have avoided a costly safety.

Alshon Jeffrey

Alshon, do you want to know why Carson doesn’t throw you the ball much? This is why. Now, how about you go cry about it to Josina Anderson again.

In the 2 games since Alshon has returned, he has been targeted 3 times in the passing game. The first target was a drop, the 2nd was an incompletion, and the 3rd was an interception where Alshon miss-timed the jump so badly that he was already on the ground before Ward jumped to intercept it. This is a guy that the Eagles wasted a roster spot on all season.  

The Defense After a Score

Overall, the defense played pretty well on Sunday, only allowing 13 points. But it is when they allow points that continues to be maddening. After the Eagles scored a touchdown to tie the game, the defense immediately folded and allowed a Browns FG drive. Later, the Eagles kicked a FG to pull it back to a 2 point game and the Eagles defense surrendered a quick TD drive to the Browns offense to blow the game back open. I can’t even remember the last time the defense didn’t allow points immediately following an offensive score.

Doug Pederson

Doug is incompetent or not in control. There is no other option. If he is incompetent he should be fired. If he is not in control then he hasn’t been given control because he isn’t trusted. You can’t run a team with a head coach you can’t trust. As much as I have defended Doug in the past, I simply can’t see a scenario where he retains his job in 2021.  

Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz is not THE problem with the 2020 Eagles. However, he is a major problem that the team is unable to overcome. Wentz has continued to compound mistakes as the season goes on. He is in the 5th year of his NFL career and yet he is playing worse than he did as a rookie. A rookie who was coming from an FCS school and who was named starter only weeks before the season when the intended starter was traded. It’s inexcusable how poorly he is playing. Yes, the receivers are bad. Yes, the pass protection is bad. And yes, the playcalling is bad. But Wentz is even worse. 

 

Even on plays where Wentz is given protection he still doesn’t make plays. It is time for the Eagles to sit Wentz down and let Hurts play.  I’m not saying it is a long term move, but playing through the struggles is only making things worse for Wentz. Let Hurts play and evaluate him as a QB. Maybe he provides a spark and drives up his value for an offseason trade. Maybe he plays well and you realize that Wentz is the biggest problem. More than likely he flounders too, but it at least lets you eliminate a variable and gives the illusion that you are trying to do something different.  

Jalen Hurts

If Jalen Hurts was worth the 53rd overall pick he would be starting by now. He obviously wasn’t worth that pick if he can’t wrestle the job away from Wentz who is the worst starting QB in the NFL this season. Or, maybe he was worth the pick and should be starting but the Eagles refuse to make the move and Hurts will ultimately be a 4 time MVP for another team that can actually evaluate talent. As bad as the Eagles are at this means that that remains a distinct possibility.  

Travis Fulgham

Does he still play for the Eagles?  

Playing for the Future

The Eagles are dead set on playing bad, old players over young players with potential. Jason Peters playing over Jordan Mailata is a travesty. Nate Gerry playing over Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley was malpractice. Carson Wentz playing over Jalen Hurts is becoming increasingly indefensible. Jalen Mills playing over K’Von Wallace is absurd. The Eagles season is over. The least they can do is try to get a look at some of the younger players.

That said, the Eagles are in for a difficult task rebuilding. This roster was constructed to win now (lol) which makes rebuilding even more difficult. There is virtually no one on this team that the Eagles can move to save cap space, and even if they could move players for picks, do you really trust Howie Roseman to oversee the rebuild? The Eagles are facing a rebuild with a GM I don’t trust, a head coach who actively puts his players in a position to fail, and a defensive coordinator who has built a defense with the exact personnel he wants, and yet it still stinks. I don’t even know where to start.

Stock Up

The Defensive Line

Fletcher Cox had a strip sack. Josh Sweat had a sack and 2 TFL. Brandon Graham recorded 2 TFL. Facing the best rushing attack in the NFL, the Eagles held the Browns to 83 yards on 39 carries (2.1 yards per carry) if you can take away the 54 yard Nick Chubb run. Obviously, you can’t take that run away, but it never would have happened if there were any linebackers on this team that knew how to play the position. The defensive line played great on Sunday but it wasn’t enough.

Alex Singleton

Singleton had 12 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit, and 1 fumble recovery. I have no idea if he is actually a good player in coverage but he knows how to show up on a box score. 

The 2021 Draft

If the season ended today, the Eagles would be in the playoffs where they would likely lose in the first round by 30+ points. That would leave them with the 19th overall draft pick. However, if the Eagles were not a division winner, their draft pick would be 7th overall. The Eagles have the 5th toughest schedule remaining with games against the Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Cardinals, Cowboys, and Football Team. How many of those games can the Eagles win? It’s entirely possible that they will lose every single one of them. Even if they do win a few, can they outpace the Cowboys and Giants who have the 26th and 22nd most difficult schedules respectively? It seems very likely that the Eagles will be sitting on a top 5 pick in next year’s draft.

Liquor Stores in Philly 

I can’t imagine many people will continue to watch this team play in the next few weeks. Those that do will almost certainly be drinking heavily to dull the pain. Rumor has it that another great way to dull the pain is to join the live streams on the TPL YouTube channel! At least there you can suffer with friends.

Overrated Talking Points

This doesn’t fit into Stock Up/Stock Down but I have to mention it. Can we stop talking about the run-pass balance already? The Eagles package a run and pass play together at a higher frequency than almost any other team in the league. Then they make the call at the line based on the defensive alignment. In the most simple terms possible, a single high safety means you call the pass (because the other safety is in the box so the defense has an advantage against the run), and split field safeties means you call the run (because the offense has the advantage in the box). Single high? Let it fly.

So, put yourselves in the shoes of an opposing defensive coordinator. If you wanted to stop the Eagles, would you load the box to stop the run or would you sit back and play coverage? You would load the box nearly every play and dare Carson Wentz to beat you, knowing that the offensive line can’t pass block (and neither can the running backs). If the pressure is somehow picked up, you can always fall back on the fact that Carson Wentz is the worst QB in the NFL from a clean pocket. Win-win. 

All of that aside, the Eagles had the 2nd lowest passing rate in neutral game script situations last week. There are a lot of problems with how this offensive gameplan works, but run/pass ratio isn’t in the top 10.

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