After a close loss to the Washington Commanders, some of the Philadelphia Eagles media and fandom are showing signs of panic. I, for one, think it’s a bit overboard.
This team was going to suffer a loss eventually, and even if it were the most amazing effort, the end result would still be the same. A lot even downplay the Eagles as a contender now, which is absurd because every contender has a weak point.
There’s a narrative and talk about a “blueprint” to beat the Eagles going forward after, as upcoming opponents boast strong running games. Let’s look at both sides of the “blueprint” argument.
Why The “Eagles Blueprint” HAS Been Revealed
Everyone thinks teams can run the ball on the Eagles, control the clock, and play “keep away” from Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ offense. There is an argument to be made for this “blueprint” because Jonathan Gannon has shown signs of stubbornness.
- Even though his defense allows 18 points per game and leads the league in turnovers, he still drops his players into zone coverage when he shouldn’t.
- He still doesn’t blitz when he should.
- He has yet to come up with a solution in Jordan Davis’ absence.
- His schemes appear softer when the Eagles have a decent lead.
And if he doesn’t adjust, teams will continue to expose that run defense. They’ll do what Washington did, keep it on the ground for most of their plays, then dink and dunk passes down the field on 3rd down because they know how far back the Eagles’ defensive backs are playing.
The Eagles are about to face Jonathan Taylor and the Colts, Aaron Jones and the Packers, Derrick Henry and the Titans, and Saquon Barkley for the Giants in four consecutive weeks.
The defense has allowed 143 total rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Houston Texans and 152 total rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Washington Commanders. The Eagles stats don’t lie. If the Eagles’ defense cannot contain the run, they could have a long day against any of these four teams, especially if Jordan Davis is not back for the Titans or Giants games.
Two of those four teams (IND, NYG) have defenses that allow 20 PPG or less, so if the Eagles’ offense is contained, those teams could dominate time of possession against the Eagles. If there is a blueprint, it puts the Eagles at risk of not locking up the one seed in an NFC conference they were assumed to dominate, as multiple teams in the playoff race or contention (MIN, DAL, SF, NYG, GB) have running games that could give the Eagles fits.
You can bet that Jeff Saturday is already cooking up a scheme to unleash Jonathan Taylor on Sunday.
Why the “Eagles Blueprint” HAS Not Been Revealed
While I get the logic to the “blueprint” narrative, I think the Commanders’ game could be remedied with very simple solutions. I’d argue turnovers are the main reason the Eagles lost this game.
Although the Commanders dominated the time of possession, it could have easily been prevented if the Eagles held onto the football.
Up 14-10, the Eagles were driving with the football near midfield. Jalen Hurts threw a deep pass intended for AJ Brown that Darrick Forrest picked off.
- Brown had two hands on the football but couldn’t pull it in, resulting in the interception.
- If Brown completes that catch, it’s likely the Eagles not only get into Washington territory but hold onto the football a bit longer and take either a 21-10 or 17-10 lead.
Instead, Washington led a lengthy touchdown drive and took a 20-14 lead. The Eagles would punt on their next offensive drive with three straight pass attempts, then one rush, and two pass attempts on their offensive drive out of the half.
One would argue if the Eagles were able to establish the run on either of those drives, it’s possible THEY may have engineered longer drives and increased their time of possession.
Their second drive late in the 2nd quarter did just that, as they racked up rushing yards en route to another score. This is where the turnover argument begins. Two crucial Eagles fumbles happened on drives where the Eagles were moving the football.
- The first occurred when Dallas Goedert secured the catch but let go of the ball. Goedert was face masked on that play which arguably led to the fumble, but the face mask wasn’t called.
- Down 26-21, a deep 50-yard pass to Quez Watkins could have put the Eagles in the red zone and position for the go-ahead touchdown, but Watkins would secure the catch, get up untouched, then fumble.
Not only did the Eagles leave 6-14 points on the field with these turnovers, but they missed an opportunity to play keep away from Washington. Simple execution, establishing a run game, and protecting the football would dispel any “blueprint” and the other team dominating time of possession.
The Eagles have been good at doing these things all season, and this offense is built to win a shootout if the defense doesn’t perform.
This is the side of the argument I’m on, as I ultimately believe the “blueprint” narrative is just panic about the first loss of the season. If these losses become a pattern, then we’ll talk.
I also can’t entirely agree with the narrative that the defense played the entire game terribly. It’s pure hyperbole.
The first half was brutal, don’t get me wrong. Washington gashed Philadelphia on the ground, and Gannon’s scheme allowed Taylor Heinicke and Terry McLaurin to gain easy passing completions in 3rd down situations.
In the second half, that wasn’t the case.
Gannon sent more blitzes, and the Eagles defense only allowed six second-half points. 3 shouldn’t have even been allowed, as Washington benefited from the lack of a face mask call. The loss of Jordan Davis truly hurts in the run game, and the Linval Joseph signing hopes to remedy some of that loss until he returns.
Jordan Davis is also likely to return for the Titans game, so the Eagles run defense would only suffer for two more games, Indianapolis and Green Bay. The numbers back up week to week that even when Gannon’s defense is frustrating, it gets better as the game continues.
What do YOU think?
- What do you think?
- Do you believe there’s a blueprint for beating the Eagles, or is it all overreaction?
Let us know in the comments on our Iggles Twitter Page.