Gut Check

22 October 2019 Opinion

Eagles fans, I will be the first to say that I had tunnel vision . What can I say; I am an optimist. The issues with this team can no longer be overlooked. The Eagles are now 3-4 after back-to-back losses in our conference and to our rivals. Burn my house, burn my car, but do not lose to the Cowboys after they got spanked by the 0-4 New York Jets. We got punched in the jaw and stayed on the mat. Now we are in the basement. Do you know what’s in the basement? Negativity. When you’re winning, things get brushed to the basement, but when you are losing, you’ll find yourself next to the radiator looking at all the problems you’ve swept to the side. Luckily, it is only week 8 and we are only a game out from the division; however, things need to change FAST.

Off Season Whiffs

  • Left tackle Peters agree to new contract: Currently Injured
  • Malik Jackson agree to 3-year contract: Currently Injured
  • Guard Isaac Seumalo agree to 3-year, 17.6 million extension: Has played ok this year
  • Center Jason Kelce one-year extension: Has been a center piece of the offense as expected
  • Defensive End Brandon Graham to 3-year extension worth $40 million: Shown flashes but not at an elite level
  • Kicker Jake Elliott re-sign with Eagles: Stick to kicking
  • Long snapper Rick Lovato re-sign with Eagles: Woo
  • Eagles and S Andrew Sendejo have agreed to terms on a one-year contract: Alright.
  • Eagles trade for WR DeSean Jackson: Where’s Dr. House?
  • Eagles trade defensive end Michael Bennett to the New England Patriots: Why trade with NE but whatever at this point
  • Nick Foles signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars: Good luck Nick.
  • Jordan Hicks signs with the Arizona Cardinals: Injury prone but dominating in Arizona.
  • Re-signed CB Ronald Darby: Burnt and broken at the moment
  • Signed Timmy Jernigan: Dr. Scholl’s
  • Signed LJ Fort: Cut and now dominating on Baltimore
  • Signed Zach Brown: Yeah…
  • Drafted Andre Dillard: Thank God.
  • Drafted Miles Sanders: Patience people, but Miles, watch some more film.
  • Drafted JJ Arcega-Whiteside: A deep threat made more sense if we went WR, but he will hopefully pan out
  • Drafted Shareef Miller: Go Penn State… that is all
  • Drafted Clayton Thorson: YIKES.

So here is my quick take on the off season since you have all already seen thousands of angry opinions since Sunday. Howie and Joe Douglas had a bad off season. On paper or on Madden with injuries set to off, this roster looked ready to roll. But this is reality and we came into the year banged up or with veteran guys who have dealt with injuries in the past. Here is my honest take, the front office and coaches were not and are not in agreement with several of our draft picks. The two picks that stick out to me are JJ Arcega-Whiteside and and Sidney Jones. Our receiving core has given us little to nothing since DeSean Jackson went down week 1 and JJ can’t even get on the field.

Now, we have CB Craig James coming in early and often as Sidney Jones stands idle on the sidelines. I understand why Doug would be frustrated in these two picks. They both were long term picks. We knew Sidney Jones would likely miss the 2017 season but since we drafted him, he’s been a shell of what the scouts saw in college. This preseason we saw flashes of greatness from JJ, now we can’t see him get any snaps while we get little to no production from Agholor and Hollins. There has to be a bigger issue if a second round WR can’t get on the field when the other guys are giving you little to nothing. I think JJ will find success; however, the Eagles should have sought out a another speed receiver to not only back DeSean up, but for the simple fact that speed is commodity in the NFL. Regardless, the coaches know our roster and need to step up as well.

No Reinforcements

Look we get it, we are banged up on both sides of the ball and lacking talent across the board. But as of now, Howie hasn’t brought in any reinforcements this year. As unfortunate as that is, it is the reality we live in. The coaches need to accept that as well make adjustments. I think one of the biggest and most overlooked issue is our lack of a blocking tight end or a third tight end in general. In 2017, we utilized Ertz, Burton, and Celek all year and thrived. In 2018, we saw Burton and Celek leave and even with the addition of Goedert, we still saw our team lose its identity. This year, we lose Richard Rodgers and Alex Ellis and still have not replaced either guy. On Sunday against Dallas, we had Agholor assigned to block defensive end! We built an entire offense on the idea that DeSean Jackson would change the way defenses play us and that is all well and good… when he’s available.

It’s been 6 weeks without DeSean and we have been sluggish and lost. It is so bizarre. If it’s broken… FIX IT! The only consistent piece of our offense is Jordan Howard and we barely utilize him. If you are getting 5+ yards a carry, keep running the ball. As much as I’d like to see Wentz put up big stats, I think Wentz and I would also like to keep establish the run, have play action run off of that, keep the chains moving, and keep pressure off of him by allowing our RBs to utilize our offense line. If the wide receivers are not getting separation and dropping the ball, then implement rub routes or just add an extra lineman and let Howard run behind them, then let Wentz pull the ball out, roll out and dump the ball over a linebacker.

I hate to admit it, but teams like New England and Seattle understand that their receivers and  lineman are not top notch for the most part, but they work as a unit. Brady is 42 years old. He literally stands in the pocket for 2-3 seconds, throw the ball to a guy sitting in the middle, open from a crossing pattern, or just throws it away. Russell Wilson is running for his life 80% of passing plays, so they run Chris Carson 25+ times. In today’s NFL, it’s adapt or die; and right now… we’re dying.

The fan base is sick and tired of watching the same song and dance every week. I am the biggest advocate for Carson Wentz and I can admit that he has not been great this year, but you are absolutely lost if you are blaming him or think Foles would be doing any better. This is a full team issue. Yes, Carson is not playing lights out, but we are hardly putting him in a position to succeed. He is under constant pressure and never even think to keep an extra blocker in or have someone chip block a rusher before going out for a route. We lead the NFL in drops, our defensive backs do not know their assignments or simply can’t stay  back, and we are injured all over the place. We were expecting to have one of the best defensive lines in the league and now we are rotating free agents or practice squad guys in there.

We are now in one of the most crucial periods in the history of the franchise. We are only two years removed from a Super Bowl and nearly returned to the NFC Championship. We have our franchise quarterback and he’s locked up for the long haul. But now we sit at 3-4 and are staring at the trade deadline. We standby watching other franchises replenishing their rosters with players we could certain use but at what cost? We have so many holes so it begs the question, can we afford to fork up capital when we obviously need to draft several players next year? In my opinion, a guy like Jalen Ramsey was worth the price tag. He’s a sure thing and would immediately elevate our defense and level of play across the board. On the flip side, I would not spend a 2nd round pick on a guy like Mohammed Sanu. The worry for me is that we want to hold onto these picks but quite honestly, he haven’t been hitting on these picks and that’s why we’re in this predicament. From the past 2-3 drafts, we are getting little to no production from these guys or they aren’t even on our roster.

Rasul Douglas has been our only healthy corner and in weeks 1, 6, and 7, he has been rated one of the worst corners all three weeks. Yes, we are getting healthier, but will it be too late? The often criticized Jalen Mills, came back in week 7 and personally, I was impressed. It was also sad to see that other than him, not many players were bringing any energy or effort that night. Hopefully the corners can hold the fort until Maddox and LeBlanc are back. It’s frustrating, but at this point, all we can do is believe in this team, because that’s what real fan’s do.

Keep the Faith

Being a fan of an NFL team is its own religion. You put faith in owner. You hope that the owner picks the right disciples, GM, coach, staff, players. If you believe in your team, then you put forth your money, time, and heart toward the cause. Every Sunday, you gather in a massive cement church with 60,000+ other followers and hope that your faith is rewarded. Win or lose, real fans keep the faith. It is ok to be disappointed and question, but never lose sight on what brought you all together in the first place.

There is no lower low than when the Eagles lose. It’s heartbreak. It’ll ruin your entire week or just until we get back into the win column. But I’ll tell you this there is nothing sweeter than being with other Eagles fan after a win. We are feeling so much disappointment because we have seen a glimpse of heaven after the 2017 season, then suddenly, you wake up in Kensington with a black eye, empty bottle, seeing a highlight of another dropped pass on a black and white TV, and a 3-4 record. We lack identity. Once we find out what type of team we are and who we want to be, then we’ll see results. So I will leave you with some positivity and words of inspiration.

I want you to close your eyes. Close your eyes and think back to your first memory of watching the Eagles. Whether you were at Franklin Field, the Vet, the Linc, a bar, or a basement, just picture the location. Remember how you felt. That anticipation, that eagerness to witness something truly special. Now think of all of the awful times after that, when you barely made it to school or work the next day after a loss. But listen, you kept fighting, you kept going. We deserve better as fans, I get it. But in football and in life, you deal with more adversity than highs.

Let me ask you this, would the Super Bowl have meant as much to you if we didn’t have to crawl through he mud of insults, failure, and disappointment? I hate it, I hate having to deal with these losses, they’re unacceptable. But their apart of being an Eagles fan. We actually care. We take it to heart because it’s not just a game to us. This is life. So, to the die hard fans that are still with me, we are only one game out from the division lead. This team will not go out without a fight. We have to trust the process and know that the veterans in the locker room will rally the troops. Win or lose, I will always bleed green. As Always, Fly Eagles Fly!

Photo Credits: NBC Sports