By: Andrew Smith
To say there are some issues with the Philadelphia Eagles to start the season would be an understatement. I don’t think anyone believed the defending Super Bowl champs would be sitting at 2-3 and tied for second in one of the weakest divisions in all of football. Considering the schedule we had to open the season, and with the Super Bowl MVP starting, I thought worst case we would start 3-1 with our regular season MVP candidate a season ago coming back.
Now granted, it is still very early in the season, and I do believe the Eagles control their own destiny to make it back into the playoffs and have a deep run into the playoffs, but if some things don’t get fixed, and soon, we may run out of time for a run to defend the title.
Only scoring 18 points to start the season against one of the worst defenses in football in the Falcons didn’t exactly send off any alarms in my head, knowing that some of our key pieces were still recovering from injuries and the chemistry of the team would have to start coming together to start regular season play.
On to Tampa Bay. No one will ever know what Ryan Fitzpatrick took to play arguably the best two games of his career to start the season, but the magic was out and in full effect against the Philadelphia secondary. When it came to the secondary, we couldn’t stop a nosebleed. This is where I started to have some serious doubts and concerns with our defense. If we couldn’t stop Ryan Fitzpatrick, one of more well-traveled players in the league, who could we stop?
Back to the Linc with a home date against the Colts. The day every Eagles fan was waiting for, the return of the golden boy Carson Wentz. And yet another close win over a below .500 team who is sitting in last in the AFC South. Now I am in no way taking credit away from our team for getting a win. Any type of win, whether a close one or a blowout, is a good win in the NFL. This game didn’t give me negative thoughts towards the team, knowing that it was Wentz’s first game back from being out a little more than half a year.
Then there was the Tennessee game. In the return of our best receiver, Alshon Jeffrey, who by the way looked damn good fresh off an injury, and with a 17-3 lead late in the game, I was already writing this one off as a win, but boy was I wrong. Marcus Mariota came alive in the fourth quarter, and literally couldn’t miss with one pass he threw through the last 15 minutes and in overtime. Watching our defense get steam rolled in overtime, giving up huge plays along with two fourth down conversions to ANOTHER below .500 team sent me through the roof. Blowing that big of a lead is just flat out inexcusable. I knew it would take some time to get everyone on the same page, but I sure as hell didn’t think it would take this long. Maybe my expectations were too high? That’s yet to be seen.
So sitting at 2-2 on the year, we have this week’s “America’s Game of the Week” against a good team in the Minnesota Vikings, despite their record. A good team that was out for revenge after we dismantled them in the NFC Championship game right before we won our first Super Bowl. But yet again, for the fifth week in a row, our offense was stagnant, and our defense couldn’t stop anything. It took Dan Bailey missing two field goals to even keep the game close. The only thing good coming from this game was Fletcher Cox getting in Jalen Mills' face for trash talking Adam Thielen, who is arguably the most underrated receiver in the NFL, and who burned Jalen all game. It was nice to see that at least one person on the team knows where they stand and has some sense.
So here we are, the defending Super Bowl champs, who a lot of people thought (especially me) would have the best chance in the history of champions to repeats this year. Unfortunately though, the Eagles are 2-3 right now. Just from a talent stand point, we are the best collective team in the NFC East and we are tied with the bum Dallas Cowboys for second place, with the Alex Smith led Washington Redskins in first place.
So, what is the Eagles biggest issue? The inefficient offense? The poor defense? Doug Pederson’s play calls? Did we rush Wentz back too quickly to play?
Personally, I think everything is in bad shape right now. On offense, I think the plays and chances are there, but we just aren’t executing them to the ability I know this team can. With the carousel of injuries not helping much, we haven’t been able to establish a strong run game, and with Wentz still getting into a rhythm after his injury, we are looking very shaky every time our offense steps on the field. On defense, and probably our whole team, the secondary is the biggest weak spot. With Rodney McCloud out for the year, and Chris Maragos still out, we are having to plug players with little experience in beside All-Pro Malcolm Jenkins. I sincerely think Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills flip a coin to see how they are going to play that certain day, that is how up and down their play at the corner position has been. Sidney Jones has been the one bright spot, who only a few games into his career, has emerged as one of the top slot corners in the league.
Do I still believe in the Eagles? Yes. Do I still think we can make the playoffs? Yes. Do I think we can repeat as Super Bowl champs? Time will tell. When we play our best football collectively as a team, I believe no one will be able to stop us. The only question is, when will we play our best football? Hopefully soon, or we could be in for a very disappointing season.
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