8 games into the season, the Eagles are officially at the halfway mark of the 2018 NFL season. How are the starters playing from a stat standpoint?
Let’s check out the notable 16 game pace for the offense and defense on the stat sheet.
QB Carson Wentz: 70% completion percentage 3,576 YDS 26 TD 4 INT
It didn’t seem possible that Wentz could improve from his record-breaking 2017 performance but he has. Wentz has made the same jaw-dropping plays with his arm and legs but he has improved dramatically with his accuracy.
Wentz is currently completing 70% of his throws while still averaging eight yards per attempt. He is averaging 273.7 passing yards a game and if he keeps this up with a second-half run of wins, he might be thrown into the MVP conversation.
RB Wendell Smallwood: 120 carries 514 YDS 2 TD 4.3 YPC
RB Corey Clement: 100 carries 334 YDS 4 TD 3.3 YPC
RB Josh Adams: 40 carries 214 YDS 0 TD 5.4 YPC
QB Cason Wentz: 42 carries 178 yards 0 TD
Rushing Total: 1,706 YDS 12 TD 4.1 YPC
The final stats also come from injured running backs like Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles, as well as carries from wide receivers. The main takeaway here is this backfield will continue to be a committee-type approach.
Crazy turnaround for Smallwood who went from an inactive player down the stretch last year to the lead ball carrier this year with over 100 carries.
Clement has been a disappointment so far but hopefully, he can exceed these numbers and get that 3.3 YPC number up significantly. He was expected to be a big part of the offense this year.
Expect Josh Adams to increase his yardage projection but it will be hard to sustain the 5.4 YPC he has currently. Adams has run the ball really well when he is given the opportunity. Expect the rookie to be a big part of the backfield in the final eight games.
TE Zach Ertz: 122 REC 1,288 YDS 6 TD
WR Nelson Agholor: 82 REC 744 YDS 2 TD
WR Alshon Jeffery: 58 REC 682 YDS 8 TD
WR Jordan Matthews: 20 REC 400 YDS 2 TD
TE Dallas Goedert: 36 REC 376 YDS 6 TD
RB Wendell Smallwood: 30 REC 286 YDS 4 TD
Some promising numbers here. Zach Ertz is on pace to crush the all-time receptions record for a season that was set by future HOF TE Jason Witten. He is also close to breaking Rob Gronkowski’s single-season yardage mark if he can surpass 1,300 yards. He has put up WR1 numbers which is mind-blowing. Ertz has been the best TE in football this year.
Jeffery, Ertz, and Dallas Goedert have been red-zone nightmares this year, on pace to combine for 20 touchdowns.
Nelson Agholor’s 82 receptions would be 14 more than last year’s 68 but his yardage would be down by 24. A lot of that has to do with his usage and now that Golden Tate has been added to the mix, expect Agholor to get more shots down the field which should get him close to the 800-yard mark.
7th in pass blocking efficiency
5th in run blocking efficiency
The offensive line was a huge liability in pass protection over the first five weeks of the season but ever since the Vikings loss, it has looked like the Eagles line of old.
Starting Issac Seaumalo at left guard has worked out pretty well but the line will need to overcome Lane Johnson’s MCL injury for the next few games, while Jason Peters continues to play through multiple injuries including a torn bicep.
DT Fletcher Cox: 50 TKL 8 Sacks 28 QB Hits 62 Hurries
DE Michael Bennett: 32 TKL 7 Sacks 24 QB Hits 40 Hurries
DE Brandon Graham: 44 TKL 3 Sacks 8 QB Hits 64 Hurries
DE Chris Long: 26 TKL 6 Sacks 18 QB Hits 34 Hurries
The defensive line is still a top unit against the run and pass.
Fletcher Cox is playing like a DPOY candidate, on pace for 8 sacks and over 60 QB hurries. Unreal with all the double teams he gets.
Michael Bennett has had one of the most underrated seasons of any Eagle, constantly getting to the QB. If some brutal penalties weren’t called against Bennett this year, his numbers would be even higher.
LB Jordan Hicks: 142 Tackles 6 Sacks 4 TFL 8 PD
LB Nigel Bradham 82 Tackes 4 Sacks 4 PD
Bradham and Hicks continue to be one of the best LB combos in the NFL. They are on pace for 10 sacks combined as Jim Schwartz as dialed up more blitzes this year, allowing the two athletic LBs to get after the quarterback.
S Malcolm Jenkins: 84 TKL 4 TFL 12 PD 2 FF 2 REC 0 INT
CB Jalen Mills: 84 TKL 2 TFL 18 PD 0 INT
CB Ronald Darby: 76 TKL 2 TFL 24 PD 2 INT
S Avonte Maddox: 38 TKL 2 TFL 2 PD 2 INT 2 FF
CB Sidney Jones: 34 TKL 4 TFL 2 PD
CB Rasul Douglas: 4 TKL 4 PD 2 INT
Jim Schwartz wants his corners to be able to tackle but it isn’t a good sign when the starting outside corners combine for over 150 tackles. It is a strong suit of Mills but the high tackle numbers come as a direct result of the soft coverage the Eagles used throughout the first half of the season.
Malcolm Jenkins continues to be a Swiss-Army knife for this Eagles defense.
Rasul Douglas hasn’t played a lot in 2018 but when he has, he makes plays when the defense needs him.
Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox have been the unsung heros of the secondary. Both have played positions that they sparingly played in college with Maddox moving to safety to replace Rodney McLeod, and Sidney Jones moving inside to replace Patrick Robinson in the slot. Both have stepped up in those areas this year.
Need. More. Turnovers.
K Jake Elliott: 12-16 FG, 4-4 20-29, 7-8 30-39, 1-2 40-49, 0-2 50+, 18-18 XP
P Cameron Johnston: Long of 68 YDS 49.9 AVG 43.7 NET IN20 11
Elliott has been up and down this season. He has struggled with longer kicks that last year he had no issue making but his short yardage kicking has been a lot better.
Johnston has been a great surprise for the Eagles in replacing Donnie Jones.
Who could the Eagles target from 49ers?
It appears the Eagles could be cooking up another trade. This time with the San Francisco 49ers.
49ers have talked to the Eagles about a trade. All I got on that.
— Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) March 16, 2019
What could Howie Roseman be looking for from San Francisco? The Eagles have already taken care of their DT, WR, and LB needs in free agency by trading for DeSean Jackson, signing Malik Jackson, and L.J. Fort.
They locked up their offensive line core keeping Jason Peters and extending both Jason Kelce and Issac Seumalo.
They even added to the log jam that is the CB position by bringing back Ronald Darby on a one-year deal.
Here are some players the 49ers could be willing to deal to the Eagles that makes sense for Philadelphia.
RB Matt Breida
With the signing of RB Tevin Coleman, the 49ers could be looking to shop one of their running backs.
Breida makes the most sense of anyone on the 49ers for the Eagles to have interest in. At just 24, Breida is young, and on an inexpensive contract which are two things Roseman loves to deal for.
After Jerick McKinnon went down last season, Breida carried the 49ers backfield finishing with 814 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
He averaged 5.3 YPC and early on in the season, he was averaging over 7.0 YPC.
That fast start included a Week 2 showing against Detroit that resulted in 138 rushing yards on just 12 carries.
Breida is explosive in short areas, and has the receiving skills Doug Pederson’s offense loves to have in the backfield.
His receiving DVOA (@fboutsiders ) was 2nd in the league behind Kareem Hunt. 44.8% is outrageous.
— Gino Cammilleri (@Gino_LOE) March 16, 2019
The third year running back surpassed 1,000 yards from scrimmage and would be an all-around weapon the Eagles desperately need at RB.
RB Jerick McKinnon
If the 49ers decide to keep Breida as Coleman’s counter-part in the backfield, that could spell the end of Jerick McKinnon in San Francisco before it even got started.
The former Viking signed with the 49ers last offseason and was expected to be Kyle Shanahan’s new version of Coleman but he tore his ACL before the season started.
McKinnon still has three years left on his contract with a $5.7 million cap hit in 2019.
He is only 26 and like Breida, McKinnon can make defenses pay on the ground and through the air.
In 2017 after Dalvin Cook suffered a season-ending injury, McKinnon became an important piece to Minnesota’s offense finishing with 570 rushing yards and 421 receiving yards.
Between 2016 and 2017, McKinnon had 94 receptions. Much like in Shanahan’s offense, Pederson’s offense is better with that kind of RB.
DE Solomon Thomas
The former third overall pick in the 2017 draft hasn’t met that potential in his first two years with the 49ers.
Thomas has just four sacks in two seasons but he could be another young (24 years old), buy-low trade target Howie Roseman takes a chance on.
The 49ers would likely be more willing to deal Thomas after trading and extending DE Dee Ford. San Francisco also holds the second overall pick in a draft class that even Roseman labeled “historic” when it comes to pass rushers.
With Chris Long’s future up in the air, Thomas could be someone the Eagles bring in to compete with Josh Sweat and a rookie if Long doesn’t think more playing time is coming his way for the 2019 season.
If the Eagles do make a trade with the 49ers, San Francisco’s loaded backfield is likely where Philadelphia would like to grab a play-maker from. Expect a deal to involve a draft pick but don’t be surprised if someone like Jalen Mills is also involved.
The CB group is now six-deep after re-signing Darby. With four other young, promising corners to develop and Mills hitting free agency in 2020, it seems likely Philadelphia could look to get some value for him now.
The 49ers already have Richard Sherman and signed former Chargers CB Jason Verrett this offseason but Mills has the versatility to play outside, in the slot, or even at safety.
Mills or a late pick for McKinnon/Breida could make sense for both sides.
T.J. Yeldon fits in Philadelphia
It doesn’t appear the Eagles were in on big names at running back in free agency. Le’Veon Bell signed with the Jets. Tevin Coleman signed with the 49ers. Mark Ingram signed with the Ravens.
Seeing Ingram and Coleman’s deal both in the $5 million a year range has many scratching their heads about why the Eagles potentially didn’t pursue those two on inexpensive contracts.
While Philadelphia could have been in the hunt for both, a lack of interest would certainly concern fans that want to see the organization invest legitimate resources into the position. It is certainly something to keep a closer eye on.
Howie Roseman can be lackadaisical when it comes to RB including last year, failing to replace Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. However, there is no need to panic just yet. The NFL Draft has talent across all seven rounds.
There are also some intriguing options still out there through trades and free agency that fit what the Eagles want to spend, and how they want to use their backs. Former Jacksonville Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon is perhaps the most interesting option. And he would be a great fit in Doug Pederson’s offense.
An even cheaper option than Coleman and Ingram
It was a bit surprising seeing Coleman and Ingram get less than expected. If the Eagles weren’t players for either, it could be as a result of their serious interest in the draft class, or their plans to spend even less at the position.
Yeldon could be a cheaper option.
If Coleman and Ingram both got $5 million, it seems evident that Yeldon, a less proven player than the other two, would get less.
The Eagles have not spent significant dollars for a running back since Chip Kelly signed DeMarco Murray in 2015. They have targeted younger, cheaper players.
At 25 years old, Yeldon fits that mold.
The perfect complementary RB
If Yeldon and Corey Clement were the compliments to a rookie the front office invests in, it would be hard to do much better.
The former Alabama prospect has the receiving skills this Eagles offense has valued since the days of Brian Westbrook.
Yeldon has 135 catches in the last three seasons, with a career-high 55 receptions for 487 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 2018.
He can make some impressive plays with his hands.
The production is there but he isn’t built like other receiving-backs. At 6’2 218 pounds, Yeldon is a few inches taller, and only two pounds lighter than Jay Ajayi. The majority would agree that Ajayi’s label is that of a power runner.
That allows him to be an option in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
Chunk plays are abundant
Yeldon has the ability to turn a four-yard hole, or a three-yard check down into a 15-30 yard play. He is extremely explosive for his size and he isn’t easy to bring down when he is caught. At Alabama, Yeldon forced 54 tackles in his final collegiate season.
Having that kind of weapon with the five dangerous pass-catchers the Eagles already have could be deadly. Wendell Smallwood isn’t that weapon.
In 2018, Yeldon finished with eight receptions of 15+ yards. Four of which were above 20 yards. Tevin Coleman only had five receptions of 15+ yards.
Compared to Alvin Kamara, an elite pass-catching running back, Yeldon only had seven fewer receptions that went past 15 yards.
Moves the chains on third down
In short and long situations on third down, Yeldon was a focal point for the Jaguars.
Whether it was a passing play or a running play, he was effective in moving the chains.
Being capable of converting through the air and ground with just one running back helps make an offense less predictable.
The Eagles still have quality options if they want to add an RB before the draft. The Browns and Bears are actively shopping Duke Johnson and Jordan Howard. If the front office wants to keep their draft capital however, T.J. Yeldon could be their guy.
On today’s Locked on Eagles:
Analyzing the Eagles signing LB L.J. Fort
DeSean Jackson’s press conference was encouraging
The Giants continue their blueprint of not having a blueprint signing Golden Tate