Penalties on penalties, an under performing offensive line, a secondary giving up big play after big play, a defensive coordinator who is bullish on making adjustments, injuries that seem to be consistent yet different every week. The Eagles 2-2 start has been a roller coaster to say the least with all these factors putting fans on edge about the outlook on the 2018 Birds.
Even the wins have come down to red zone heroics by the defense which will lead to nerves that knock years off a fans life. It has been a rocky start to the season for the Eagles but one factor should outweigh all those fears, in hopes that this season can still include championship aspirations.
That factor is the play of Carson Wentz.
Since returning to the lineup against the Colts two weeks ago, Wentz has made the same jaw dropping, highlight reel plays that nearly won him an MVP award last season before the torn ACL ended his season.
It doesn’t look like the injury is holding back Wentz from extending plays with his legs, or standing tall in a muddy pocket and driving the ball down the field, which were key abilities that made the Eagles fall in love with the North Dakota product back in 2016. Wentz has completed 75% of his passes under pressure.
— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) September 23, 2018
Ertz has been a beast, 9 receptions for 107 yards now pic.twitter.com/bEYXLZ0sgd
— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) September 30, 2018
Sometimes when a player returns from such a serious injury, it takes some time to knock off the rust, regain confidence in their leg, and a conservative style of play forms.
That hasn’t been the case with Wentz. He is throwing with tremendous confidence and he was more accurate against the Titans than we may have seen in his career.
— Máximo Avance NFL (@NFL_MA) September 30, 2018
Wentz is completing almost 67% of his throws for 603 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 348 passing yards against Tennessee tied his season high last year that came against Seattle in week twelve. It only took him two games to put up those numbers this year.
If it wasn’t for penalties and drops around the offense, the numbers would be even more impressive.
Receivers accounted for six drops against the Titans, four of which came from Nelson Agholor who had opportunities to make big plays through the air off some spectacular throws from Wentz.
Wentz with a dime, Agholor with a drop pic.twitter.com/g5AMqrMbS9
— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) September 30, 2018
Agholor also had a chance to take one to the house on the first pass of the game from Wentz who hit him in stride off a play-action pass but he couldn’t bring it down.
Wentz hasn’t only had to overcome missed opportunities but he has been hit the third most of any quarterback throwing this year despite only playing two games.
If the Eagles were going to struggle early this season, how it is happening would be the preferred way. The entire offensive line that outside of Wisniewski (benched for Issac Seaumalo) still features an elite unit from 2017. They haven’t pass protected well at all, struggling to pick up blitzes and stunts. But that line is too talented to play the way they have for the rest of the season. The pass protection already got better from the first half to the second last Sunday.
One game of the drops shouldn’t lead to a regression for Agholor. There still have been a lot of opportunities for the fourth year receiver to make big plays down the field. Moving back to the slot on a more permanent basis should bode well for Agholor.
The secondary has given up a lot of plays down the field but even that unit is too talented to play this poorly all season.
Even with all these issues biting the Eagles this year, all of it is more preferred than an alternative situation where Wentz returned from injury and did not look like the player that set the single season passing touchdowns record just a year ago.
Wentz playing as well as he has will keep the team in every game. If the rest of the team figures it out, this team is right back to being a favorite to win it all this season.
If the offensive line was dominating, and the secondary was locking down the opposing passing games, this team still would only go as far as Wentz can take them.
Be thankful the Eagles don’t have a Raiders situation on their hand. Derek Carr has not been the same since his elite 2016 season. In just four games Carr has thrown seven interceptions this year.
Wentz, in back to back weeks drove down the field late in the game to either take the lead or tie the game. The offense couldn’t get a touchdown in overtime against the Titans but Wentz went off the field with the lead.
The way this team is struggling at 2-2 is a much easier situation to get out of than the scary alternative of a struggling franchise quarterback.
Who will the Eagles target at RB?
Le’Veon Bell? LeSean McCoy? Tevin Coleman? The Eagles are in the hunt for a running back to replace Jay Ajayi after he suffered a torn ACL in the loss against Minnesota.
Will the Eagles go in for a star or add a rotational piece alongside Corey Clement like Spener Ware or CJ Prosise.
Louie and Gino speculate on another edition of the Locked on Eagles podcast!
Another McCoy trade between the Eagles and Bills?
The Eagles, in search for a running back after starter Jay Ajayi tore his ACL on Sunday against the Vikings, reportedly contacted the Bills about a potential deal for LeSean McCoy.
Would the Bills consider giving the Eagles their all-time leading rusher back? What would it take? Has McCoy lost a step?
Louie and Kevin Massare of Locked on Bills touch on everything you need to know about the Eagles-Bills trade rumors involving LeSean McCoy.
Would the Dolphins trade the Eagles another RB?
It was just a year ago that an Eagles team dominating the NFL wanted to put the offense over the edge by dealing for a difference maker at the running back position. That difference maker turned into Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi who fell out of favor with Head Coach Adam Gase after tensions grew with Ajayi’s role shrinking as the year went on.
The Eagles swooped in giving the Dolphins a 4th round pick and Ajayi helped lead Philadelphia to their first ever Super Bowl championship, averaging 5.8 yards per carry with the Birds.
A year later the Eagles are searching for help in the backfield with the news that Ajayi is out for the season after tearing his ACL in Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Would the Dolphins consider making a second deal with the Eagles for a running back? Preferably another young, efficient runner in Kenyan Drake that hasn’t been used by Gase?
Drake was a big reason the Dolphins were OK letting Ajayi go to Philadelphia last year. The former Alabama running back averaged almost five yards a carry in the second half of the season.
However in 2018 Drake has not been used nearly as much as a year ago. Drake has just 14 carries in the last three weeks with just 53 yards on the ground.
Frank Gore meanwhile has 10+ carries in back to back weeks.
Drake is just 24 years old and doesn’t have a big cap hit like other potential trade targets for the Eagles in Le’Veon Bell or LeSean McCoy. He is a cheaper, younger option who also possesses the vision, speed, explosive play-making ability that Bell and McCoy have.
This was so sick of Kenyan Drake lol pic.twitter.com/xXOCMhZrsy
— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) August 18, 2018
He also could help solve the offense’s issues against the blitz with strong pass protection.
That run after the catch is nice, but let’s talk about Kenyan Drake killing a man on his pass pro. pic.twitter.com/MD5QPMRdVx
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) October 7, 2018
The Eagles could also call about Frank Gore, a former legend in Philadelphia but the Eagles would more likely go for a younger, faster back that can make game changing plays that Corey Clement or Wendell Smallwood just can’t make on a consistent basis.
Clement will still be a big part of this backfield but the Eagles need to add someone like Drake to keep this offense dangerous in both the pass game and run game.
Carson Wentz has thrown a lot in his first three starts this year and while the passing game should be the focal point of the offense, the Eagles need to have a legitimate run game that was extremely important in the Super Bowl win last year (Blount, Ajayi, Clement combined for over 200 scrimmage yards in the Super Bowl).
If Miami was willing to deal, Drake could be a great option.