When you’re the 6-0 Eagles, you probably aren’t sweating the big details.
Offense — clicking.
Defense — check.
Special teams — meh.
By nature, football is a game of imperfections. Coaches draw up the plays. Players execute them. Other players try to blow up those carefully crafted plays. Sometimes it’s poetic; sometimes it’s chaos.
Even 6-0 teams are blemished. Why are the Eagles so great in the second quarter? Why does their offense bog down in the second half? They dominated Dallas in the first half and let them back in during the second half.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts addressed the second-half slowdown earlier in the season — meaning it has been a long-term concern.
- “I think that is something we have to be able to sustain throughout the whole entire game, regardless of the situation, and that starts with everybody,” Hurts said. “To perform at a high level and still leave so much money on the table, that’s big for us.”
Coach Nick Sirianni said his team hasn’t played a complete game yet. He was asked what a complete game would look like.
- “It’s just finishing the game,” Sirianni said. “Again, it’s not — here is what makes it hard to play a complete game. A team [Dallas] that’s really good on the other side, right? That’s a good football team, as we know.
- “So, yeah of course we were up 20-3 at the half and would’ve loved to just duplicate that and won the game 40-6, but in the grand scheme of things that’s hard to do.
- “The second half is played a little bit differently … you just want to finish the game. I think there is no doubt, right, that if we have good first halves and that the second halves, whether the defense has held them and the offense hasn’t scored or whatever it is, we haven’t played a complete game in the sense of we haven’t really blown open a game when we have had two-score leads.”
The Eagles haven’t had to play the role of the Comeback Kids in 2022. They trailed once all season — 7-0 to Detroit in first quarter of the opener. They held two-score leads in every game.
- “You want to just be able to end a game and put a game away,” Sirianni said. “I think that’s what we’re talking about, is to just really finish the game and put it away.
- “Things change the way you view things in the second half sometimes when you do have these leads but you always want to be aggressive and always want to put points on the board, and we haven’t done that.”
REMEMBER ZACH PASCAL?
The wide receiver reunited with Sirianni, his offensive coordinator in Indianapolis, when the 27-year-old signed a one-year contract in March.
On the Eagles’ website in August, it said this about the signing: envisioning him as a do-everything, tough, physical, catch-in-traffic receiver who would be depth and leadership to a young wide receiver corps while also aiding on special teams.
Pascal might be doing some of those intangibles and he has played 53 percent of the snaps on special teams. But in six games, he only has six catches on seven targets for 39 yards. He hasn’t had a catch since Week Three against Washington.
Maybe it’s cyclical. Pascal had nine offensive snaps against Dallas, 13 against Arizona. For the season, he has played 27 percent of offensive snaps.
The Eagles are getting excellent play from wide receivers DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, plus tight end Dallas Goedert. They haven’t strayed much beyond those three.
For example, Quez Watkins only has six catches on nine targets for 88 yards, while playing 56 percent of the offensive snaps.
RUNNING FOR MILES
The Eagles are the NFL’s fifth-ranked rushing team, a major factor in their 6-0 record.
Miles Sanders has 485 yards on 105 carriers, a 4.6 average. He is the league’s fourth-leading rusher. He has given Hurts a necessary running option to complement the passing attack.
- “Miles has been tremendous through this first six weeks,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said. “He’s running hard. He’s got great vision.
- “The biggest thing, too, besides that and his speed and his power and all those things that he has, the ball security is huge.
- “We’ve had no fumbles this year, knock on wood. And we’ve only had two turnovers.”
Eagles rookies continue to not get many non-special teams snaps. First-round pick Jordan Davis is the exception as he continues to get first-team snaps at defensive tackle.
Against Dallas, Davis had 22 defensive snaps. For the season, he has 135 snaps — 34.6 percent
Against Dallas, tight end Grant Calcaterra was the only other rookie to get non-special teams snaps. He had seven against the Cowboys. He has 45 snaps on the season — 10 percent of the offensive plays.