Jordan Sernoff ‘20, Staff Writer

Ever since the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018 it seems as if they put things on cruise control. Things have changed a lot since that glorious year. However, there are no excuses this year. The offensive line was rated as one of if not the best by every polling this offseason. The wide receiver core was rated as one of the highest. Carson Wentz was an early MVP favorite and was coming into this season fully recovered from his terrible knee injury that shredded his ACL and PCL.

Expectations for this Eagles team were very high. They made a miracle run to end the season that led to an iconic playoff double doink off the uprights to win a playoff road game in Chicago. Unfortunately, a very untimely drop from Alshon Jeffery against the Saints (similar to some of the seven that occured against the Lions) would end the game and the Eagles hopes of another Superbowl run. This Eagles team is not working together right now and they need to right the ship before Dallas takes complete control of the division.

All of the blame for the offensive woes so far this season will be put on Carson Wentz. Unfortunately, this is just the nature of the NFL and the Quarterback position. All of the blame when things go wrong but all of the glory when they go right. Carson has not been great so far this year but has been much better than his record and stats show. He is making bad reads on plays where he should be looking underneath or to the more open receiver five yards downfield instead of the receiver who may be open 20 yards down field. He also has terrible pocket presence at times and even worse footwork that has dated back to last season as well.

This compounded with the fact that this offensive line is not only looking awful at times but is now beginning to deal with injuries with 2019 first round pick Andre Dillard going down with a knee injury against the Lions, though he would practice later that week. Not to mention the reason Dillard came in in the first place with Jason Peters having to leave the Lions game as well, though he was not listed on the injury report.

However, these injuries are minor in comparison to the major losses of Desean Jackson in the week two game against the Atlanta Falcons. With Nelson Agholor as the top receiver for the last two games he has shown just how little depth the Eagles have at wide receiver as opposed to what was believed before the season. Back to back games have ended with a wide receiver (JJ Archeiga-Whiteside and Nelson Agholor) dropping a potential game winning touchdown along with overall terrible play from everyone else on offense not named Zach Ertz (who has still not scored a TD on the season).

However, on thursday night Alshon Jeffery would return and score a touchdown and provide crucial third down plays. Jordan Howard would get minimal carries in the first three games but would burst out against the packers with 15 carries for 87 yards on 5.8 yards per carry. He was a beast in the red zone with three total touchdowns, two on the ground and one through the air. Miles sanders would also play a big role providing big runs with 72 yards on 11 carries. He would also provide a  66 yard return on the eagles first scoring drive. The running game finally looks to be getting on track. Finally, as most have seen by now the offensive line is struggling to open the season. Against the lions on one specific play the line would allow a terrible sack on a three man rush.

What makes this sack different is that every lineman would stop blocking mid-play only to turn around to see Carson Wentz get flattened by three lions. Its is early in the season and with the returns of Jackson the drops should come less often and the offensive tempo should ramp up.

The defense presents a whole new set of problems and solutions. As a surprise to absolutely no one the secondary looks weak and is continually beaten by double moves by pretty much all of its opponents. This is a problem that has been around since last year when Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby were constantly left multiple steps behind as their assignments ran wide open across the middle of the field. Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, and others are doing their best but are in desperate need of reinforcements. A trade for Jacksonville Jaguars star cornerback Jalen Ramsey is hopefully in the works but is very doubtful at this point.

The front seven has been good but not playing at the level expected of them. Stars Brandon Graham (who signed a massive new contract in the offseason) and Fletcher Cox have a combined zero sacks and the team has a combined three on the season so far with one each from Andrew Sendejo, Tim Jernigan, and a huge strip sack of Aaron Rodgers from Derek Barnett. A defense that has prided itself on generating pressure with four linemen is generating nothing, and the secondary will continue to suffer because of it.

The Eagles have been able to get by for years with a subpar secondary by being one of the top sack producing defenses of the past couple years. Now the lack of upfront production is exposing the weaknesses that have not been addressed over the past couple years. There is a lot of hope however, even with all the defensive struggles the Eagles have been in the game till the very end of all of their games. With their losses being easily avoided with timely catches for touchdowns. This defense has been very bend but do not break and has been able to hold offenses to field goals once in the red zone. Injuries have also reared their ugly heads in defensive tackle Tim Jernigan and Malik Jackson, who have both been lost to injury leaving Fletcher Cox as the main man in the middle by himself.

Once the offense is able to consistently put points on the board some pressure will be lifted from the defense. Unfortunately, unless the defensive line starts to step up and produce the defense will continue to be a problem.

There is room for a lot of optimism for the Philadelphia Eagles. Carson Wentz has looked good and looks to be fully recovered from his injuries from past seasons. He still has a lot to work on with his reads and footwork which will not help the struggling offense. As players return from injury the team should continue to get stronger and stronger. The upcoming schedule offers games that could easily be traps, upsets, and glorious victories. The Jets provide what should be an easy opponent but with a potential return of QB Sam Darnold in that game things could go either way especially if the Eagles play does not improve. Games against the Vikings, Bears, and the Cowboys will be true tests against other NFC contenders and possible playoff foes. A game against the Bills will prove to be a challenge as they bring a strong defense and a QB with potential to break open games in multiple ways.

Games against the Seahawks and Patriots round out the October and November games and can go either way with Seattle always proving to be a possible playoff team no matter their conditions and the Patriots carrying a belief that they may go undefeated this year. With one more gimme game against the Dolphins (who may become the third team ever to go 0-16) the schedule finishes up with four straight division games two of which against the lowly Giants who have recently decided to start their rookie Quarterback Daniel Jones. The bulk of this team is still heavily made up of winners of the 2018 Super Bowl and has experienced veterans at every position. Things are looking very ugly right now but it is not too late to right things and get on a strong roll that can end up with a strong playoff showing.

Source: Bismark Tribune