After a strong Week 1 performance, hopes were high for the Philadelphia Eagles going into the 2021-2022 season. However, since then, things have been spiraling downward. After taking another loss last week (to the Dallas Cowboys), the Eagles are now 1-2 as they prepare for a busy month ahead.
This Sunday, Philadelphia will host two-time defending AFC champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, and if they want to stay afloat, the Eagles would be wise to make some changes.
5 MISTAKES THE EAGLES NEED TO FIX
1. A lack of running the ball
Last Monday night’s run game was bad. In total, the Eagles ran the ball three times, with only two carries (27 yards) going to running back Miles Sanders. It became the fewest carries by a team’s running back in any NFL game.
The Eagles ran just three running plays for RBs yesterday. That's the fewest carries by a team's RBs in any game in our database
— ProFootballReference (@pfref) September 28, 2021
Head coach Nick Sirianni stated, “Does he [Sanders] need more than five touches? Of course. The way the game went, he didn’t get that. There’s no doubt we’ve got to get our playmakers the ball. He’s a playmaker. He’s shown that he’s a playmaker, whether it’s in the screen game, whether it’s out of the backfield.”
Playing devil’s advocate, the Eagles only had a total of 18 offensive plays in the first half with significantly less time of possession. Little time means little carries.
However, if the Eagles want to succeed this coming Sunday, they must run the ball. Philadelphia is currently ranked fifth in rushing yards per game (129.3), despite last week. Going into Week 4, the Chiefs have the worst run defense in the entire NFL, giving up 160.3 rushing yards and 2.3 rushing touchdowns thus far.
What needs to be done seems like a no-brainer.
2. An absurd number of penalties
Simply put, the penalties have got to stop.
After Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, penalties were supposed to be addressed; instead, they have progressively gotten worse. The Eagles finished Monday’s game with 13 penalties, totaling 35 penalties in their first three games — a new franchise record.
In fact, the Eagles are actually on pace for 198 penalties.
During Philadelphia’s matchup against Dallas, Nick Sirianni was caught on tape, mouthing the words, “It’s always him” in reference to Derek Barnett.
Sirianni stated, “I was frustrated with the pre-snap penalties, regardless of (whether) it was Derek or anybody. We had them on offense, and we had them on defense. I don’t think we had any pre-snap penalties on special teams. It was just my frustration with our team as a whole, and it starts with me. It’s my responsibility to get the penalty thing right. I don’t blame any player for that. We’ve just got to get better at it.”
3. Hurts’ inability to get the ball down the middle
The Eagles have done an excellent job eliminating passes down the middle of the field for second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts; however, eventually, he will need to learn to adapt.
Prior to Week 3, Sirianni stated, “In our first two games, that’s where we wanted to attack on the defensive side. And so, that’s just a product of who we’re playing and what routes we have in for that week.”
While that may be true, defenses will focus on outside coverage as the weeks progress, forcing Hurts to pass down the middle. If he’s unable to do so, sacks and turnovers will rack up, creating an even larger problem for Philadelphia.
4. Hurts gives away his intended targets
This is a tag-along to the previous mistake.
Since Hurts has difficulty passing down the center, his intended targets remain on the outside. This is an advantage for the defense, and even more so because Hurts tends to give up his targets. On Monday against the Cowboys, Hurts did just this, and Dallas was able to capitalize on this, intercepting the ball in the third quarter.
5. “New” Eagles’ players aren’t living up to their potential
While it makes complete sense that veteran players would be more successful, there are many players who are new to Philadelphia that came with an impressive resume but haven’t lived up to it.
Eric Wilson has seen less time on the field each week, and though his strength is supposed to be tackles, he has one of the highest missed tackle rates in the NFL. Pro Football Focus currently has Wilson ranked as one of the worst-graded linebackers.
The same can be said for Ryan Kerrigan. The defensive end who came from Washington has a ridiculous number of career tackles (454); however, in 94 snaps, he’s logged zero.
The offense has also struggled. With three out of five starters injured, rookie Landon Dickerson has replaced Brandon Brooks and has not done well. He’s allowed nine pressures on 73 pass-block snaps in the last three games and has the worst pass-blocking efficiency in the league.
The Eagles’ next few weeks are rough, and the reality is, changes are going to take time. The problem with Philadelphia beating Atlanta was that it provided fans with unlikely expectations. The Eagles are new, the coaching staff is new, and though Jalen Hurts is a second-year quarterback, he’s a first-year starter.