The first week of the Eagles season has passed, which means everyone has their own overreaction about how the season is going to go. Some think the season is doomed, some think the Eagles are now poised for a Super Bowl run. Every Tuesday after the game, we are going to look at some of these over-reactions fans of the Eagles have, and decide whether they are valid.
Overreaction 1: Doug Pederson Can’t Coach.
The day after the game was full of people arguing that the game proved Doug Pederson can’t coach. Despite the Eagles winning by 13 points. Some of their concerns have merits. After balancing the run vs pass well in the first quarter, it got away from him and the Eagles ended up passing on 67% of their snaps.
However, the fans biggest concern seemed to all revolve around one play. The lateral pass to Agholor that resulted in a fumble. Ignoring the fact that fans are making a huge deal about one play, this just wasn’t a bad play call in general. Go back, and look at how the play was set up. Agholor had space to run if the players execute this play call. The problems were, one, Carson Wentz made a bad throw, and two, Smith not only missed a block but didn’t try to make a play on the ball after the fumble. If Smith makes that block, and Wentz makes that throw, Agholor is going for at least a first down, if not more depending on how the Washington defense was set up downfield.
No one even gives Pederson for the great play call on the Eagles second touchdown. No one on the Washington side was anticipating a pass to LeGarrette Blount there. The play worked perfectly and they got a touchdown. Was Pederson perfect? No, he ran the fake reverse with Agholor multiple times and it never fooled anyone, but acting like they won in spite of him is crazy. He called a decent game for the most part.
Verdict: Major Overreaction. Peoples past biases of Pederson have influenced them, and they are nitpicking a couple bad play calls.
Overreaction 2: Eagles Running Game is Awful
Not really much to say about this one. The longest run of the game for the Eagles was 7 yards. Eagles averaged 2.5 yards per rush, 2.6 if you don’t count Carson Wentz. Blount rushed 14 times for 46 yards. Wendell Smallwood rushed 4 times for 4 yards, and Darren Sproles 2 times for 2 yards.
Blount isn’t going to be a workhorse. He is in his 30’s and is coming off a year where he rushed 299 times. Smallwood has yet to show anything worthwhile and isn’t a good enough blocker to stay on the field. Sproles is a great weapon in the passing game, but as a rusher is very limited with how many carries he can get.
Some fans may want to see Corey Clement, but they shouldn’t expect the quality they got from his in the preseason. He performed well, but his history, his size, and his speed project him as a dime a dozen running back. If running backs continue to struggle, he should get a chance, but don’t expect him to come in and blow people away. Fans tend to over react to average players in the preseason over performing. Maybe Clement will break the mold. Maybe he can turn into a solid running back, but don’t hold your breath.
Verdict: Valid Reaction: RB is going to be an issue for the Eagles. They lack a workhorse at the moment, and the chances of them finding one now are slim. Their best hope is for Smallwood to find his groove.
Overreaction 3: Wentz Can’t Throw the Deep Ball
Wentz missed on a couple chances to find his new target Torrey Smith a couple times in the game. This combined with him rarely getting a chance to throw it last year has some fans concerned he can’t throw a deep ball. However, he threw a perfect deep ball to Nelson Agholor after his magical scramble out of pressure. Wentz did not get a lot of time to work with Smith and Alshon Jeffery in the preseason. He was mostly on target when throwing to Zack Ertz, Agholor, and Sproles. He just doesn’t have the chemistry and timing down with Smith and Jeffery yet. Plus, he did have one nice ball to Jeffery deeper down the field, that Jeffrey just couldn’t come down with.
Verdict: Overreaction: If this continues into the season, it can be a concern, but for now, chalk it up not having enough time to develop chemistry with his new weapons.
Overreaction 4: The Eagles Cornerbacks Will Be Fine
The Eagles Cornerbacks looked like a disaster before the preseason. It was every fan’s number one concern and for good reason. Then, the Eagles traded for Ronald Darby, and some of those concerns were alleviated. However, when Darby went down with what at the time, appeared to be a nasty ankle injury, it was panic time. Much to the Eagles fans surprise though, the floor didn’t come out from under them.
Washington failed to adequately capitalize on the Eagles secondary woes, only earning 240 yards through the air. Eagles secondary, at first look, looked surprisingly good without Darby. But look a little deeper, there is some reason for concern.
Jalen Mills battled all day and should be commended for holding in. But the talks about him having this amazing day are wildly over blown. He was targeted 15 times and gave up 10 catches for 108 yards. Yes, he gave the keys a big interception that possibly saved the game, and yes he didn’t give up any big plays, but amazing he was not.
If anyone deserves credit, it should be Patrick Robinson in the slot, who made Jamison Crowder a near non-factor. They threw at him 6 times, and he only gave up 3 catches for 22 yards. I doubt he would be successful on the outside, but it seems like the Eagles agree and will keep inside even with Darby out for 4 weeks.
Eagles also got lucky a few times in coverage. There were multiple times where Washington had a man open downfield, but Kirk Cousins just missed, or the receiver couldn’t make the catch. The Eagles corners performed better than expected, but since not much was expected out of them, that isn’t saying much.
Verdict: Eh, too soon to tell: There isn’t enough information to tell if Mills and company will hold up without Darby. Mills is scrappy and will give whomever he is covering a fight, but he is still beatable. Watkins on the other side is a bigger question mark. We will see how they hold up in KC against Tyreek Hill.
Overreaction 5: Eagles Have an Offensive Line Problem
There is no doubt that the Eagles OL struggled in week 1. At times they maintained a clean pocket, but too many times they put Wentz in a position where he had to make magic happen to make a play. The run blocking was even worse, with first-year starter Issac Seumalo especially struggling in run blocking.
Let’s pump the breaks on the panic button though. For one, Washington has a good pass rush. More importantly though, this, like the deep ball issue, can potentially be chalked up to a lack of seasoning in the preseason. This front 5 barely played together in the preseason.
Verdict: Calm Down, the Offensive Line will be Fine
Overreaction 6: Eagles Defensive Line is One of the Best in the League
Yep, sounds about right. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and Timmy Jernigan dominated in this game. Graham had two sacks, and a forced fumble. Cox and Jernigan each registered one sack, with the former adding a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown.
Even beyond those stats, Eagles were getting pressure on Cousins all day. The interception Cousins threw, wasn’t Jalen Mills making a great play, it was the Eagles pass rush pressuring Cousins to throw the ball poorly.
They performed well against the run as well. They allowed only 64 yards on the ground on 17 carries, 30 of which were from Cousins scrambling after being pressured out of the pocket. They only allowed 34 yards to the Washington running backs, for only 2.6 yards a carry. The Eagles defensive line, and their linebackers, dominated that game. Eagles would love to see more pout of Vinny Curry, who was possibly the least productive person in the front 7, but they won’t need it if the rest of the players keep this play up.
Verdict: Completely Valid: Opposing QB’s should be afraid, very afraid.