While teams across the NFL prepare for Sunday Football, the Philadelphia Eagles are on their bye week. Typically reserved for visiting family or friends, this year had something else in mind.
COVID-19 protocols have forced the Eagles to remain in Philadelphia for daily testing, allowing head coach Doug Pederson is to take advantage of the team’s time here.
A LITTLE MORE PRACTICE NEVER HURT ANYONE
On Wednesday, Pederson brought the players into the NovaCare Complex for some extra work.
He stated, “This is the time where we can look at the first eight games and really self-scout and evaluate and find ways to improve all three areas of our team. It’s also a chance to get some guys healthy and prepare”.
Improvement is much needed, indeed. Despite the protocols put into place due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Eagles should have the whole week off. However, given their most recent play against the Dallas Cowboys, this week should serve as an eye-opener for the team.
Last week, quarterback Carson Wentz had four turnovers against Dallas. While he seemed to be trending upward after Week 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the slope certainly took a tumble. He now has 16 turnovers in eight games.
The team went through the tapes this week to correct the errors made.
Wentz stated, “Too many turnovers. I have to be better… that stuff [fumbles] I can keep cleaning up, and obviously, it’s stuff that, individually I can get better at”.
Aside from Wentz, the remainder of the team should also take a good look at themselves throughout the first eight weeks. The offensive line is missing key opportunities to prevent sacks, and the defense has allowed the most rushing yards since defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz came to Philly. The Eagles’ defense is now ranked 24th; in 2019 they had the third-fewest opponent rushing attempts in the entire league.
Injuries have led to backups filling in as starters, and many holes now need to be filled going into the second half of the season.
The Eagles continue to lead the NFC East with a 3-4-1 record. Although they have not played well as a team, there are positives that Philly needs to focus on to get through the remainder of the season.
Wide Receivers: Now that Jalen Reagor has returned after a thumb injury, the Eagles must focus on coordinating game play between Reagor and newest wide receiver Travis Fulgham. Reagor scored his first career touchdown last week against Dallas, and Fulgham has the most receiving yards in the NFL since Week 4.
Most Receiving Yards (@NFL Players Since Week 4)
435 – Travis Fulgham (4 TD)
430 – George Kittle (2 TD)
413 – Tee Higgins (1 TD)
410 – Robby Anderson (0 TD)
407 – Stefon Diggs (1 TD)#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/fpE0fGIDuu
— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) November 2, 2020
Since DeSean Jackson is out with another injury and we haven’t heard from Alshon Jeffery all season, Reagor and Fulgham will be the pair to watch out for.
Linebacker: T.J. Edwards played a good game last Sunday. He had 13 total tackles, one sack, and one fumble for the Eagles. Edwards became the Eagles’ first linebacker to force a fumble that the Eagles recovered for a touchdown. Since Nate Gerry’s injury, Edwards’ role has expanded, and it seems as if he’s up to the challenge.
Injuries: Philadelphia’s bye week will grant the Eagles with time. Time for players to recover. Lane Johnson and Miles Sanders are predicted to return in Week 10, adding more power to the offense.
Zach Ertz is eligible to return in Week 11, and in Week 12, DeSean Jackson, Nate Gerry, and Genard Avery may also make their way back to the field.
Marcus Epps, who tested positive for the coronavirus also gets the chance to miss one less game given the fortunate timing of the Eagles’ schedule.
On Monday, Pederson stated, “Are we where we want to be? Yeah, we’re first place in the NFC East, but at 3-4-1, it could easily be the other way, right? It could be 4-3-1 or 5-3 or whatever it could be. But there’s a lot of positive that we see as coaches on the inside that give us the encouragement and the opportunity to get better as a team”.
REST AND RETURN
Following Wednesday’s practice, the Philadelphia Eagles had four straight days off. They meet the New York Giants next Sunday at 1 pm at MetLife Stadium. A tough string of games awaits the Eagles.