Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
What to expect form the Eagles in week 2
With a disappointing week 1 in the past its time to look ahead to week 2 with the Eagles taking on the Rams at 1:00pm Sunday. Last week the Eagles struggled with injuries on both offence and defence, going into the game the Eagles were missing 8 starters; Andre Dillard(LT), Brandon Brooks (RG), Alshon Jeffrey (WR), Lane Johnson (RT), Miles Sanders (RB), Javon Hargrave (DT), Derek Barnett (DE), and Will Parks (S) he was expected to start in big nickel packages. On top of all the injuries they came into the game with, more players unfortunately suffered injury. Brandon Graham (DE) was taken out of the game and evaluated for a concussion ending his night early along with Jack Driscoll who started at right tackle for the injured Johnson, leaving the Eagles with the 3rd string option Jordan Mialata. Vinny Curry also left the game with a hamstring injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for 4 weeks. While Desean Jackson often looked injured or in pain during week 1, along with playing a limited number of snaps he said he is healthy and ready to go for week 2. Now for some good news Lane Johnson, Miles Sanders and Javon Hargrave are all expected to make their season debut this Sunday against the Rams. Brandon Graham is out of concussion protocol and expected to play Sunday, Barnett is listed as questionable but was a full participant in practice on Friday so hopes are high he will play too.
Coach Pederson said earlier today (Friday) that Nate Herbig would get the start at right guard on Sunday, creating starting offensive line that should consist of Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Nate Herbig, and Lane Johnson respectively. Driscoll will serve as the backup tackle/ guard along with Matt Pryor my assumption is Pryor will be backing up the left side while Driscoll takes care of the right having played both positions in college as well as starting at right tackle last week. The addition of Lane should instantly make the Eagles better across the board on the line, although I am still worried about Herbig having to go up against Aaron Donald. Herbig struggled last week going against a very good Washington front this week it gets even harder having to go up against the best defensive tackle in the NFL. I expect Kelce to help and double team Donald when possible but if he can create 1 on 1 matchups with either Herbig or Seumalo its going to be another long day for Wentz neither of them can block Donald alone. Last week Donald wrecked drives for the Cowboys throwing around all-pro Zack Martin, Connor Williams, and Joe Looney like they were children, Donald has the potential to do what he did last week and blow up drives he can single handedly change games. The Eagles have to make stopping Donald a priority, whether its quick passes, moving the pocket, rolling out, or the screen game the coaching staff has to do a much better job helping Wentz then they did last week. Pederson credited the lack of roll outs, and moving pockets to unsuccessful first down plays last week that is a horrible excuse, he could have changed the game plan at halftime once he seen his O-line could not keep wentz upright. Not to mention he should have already had that in his game-plan the coaches had a whole offseason to prepare for Washington knowing what they had on their D-line and failed to come up with alternative ways of keeping Wentz clean, which resulted in 8 sacks for Washington.
If the Eagles plan on winning this week the coaches need to figure out more creative ways to keep Wentz safe because he wont do it himself. This is the type of player Wentz is it comes with the good and the bad sometimes Wentz can stay alive and make a play 40 yards down field, other times he gets sacked for holding the ball to long or trying to elude every pass rusher apposed to throwing it away. You cant blame every sack on the O-line or the coaches last year Wentz has a total of 607 throws and only 10 throw aways along with 37 sacks and 9 fumbles lost showing that he threw the ball away 0.016% of his passes. Coming into his fifth year he has shown no improvement on this since his rookie year so i firmly believe this is the player you get in Carson Wentz, like it or hate it i don’t see it changing anytime soon.
On a more positive not the Eagles defence looked good against Washington, they generated a good pass rush at the start of the game which can only be improved upon now that Hargrave is coming back so they should find some success against an average interior Rams O-line. Pressure is the key to victory for the Eagles in this game Jared Goff is notorious for playing bad under pressure. Last year Goff played in seven games where he was pressured 20% or more he had a combined completion percentage of 63% in those games, throwing for 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions while only managing to win two of those games giving him a record of 2-5 when pressured more than 20%. I believe this to be an accomplishable task for the Eagles D-line considering the talent they have at that position. Last week against the Cowboys Goff was 21-30 for 275 yards with no touchdowns and 1 interception boasting a completion percentage of 64.5%. Of Goff’s 20 completions 13 came through play action accounting for 112 yards, Goff’s longest throw of the day was for 31 yards and 17 of his 20 completions all came under 10 yards, with 7 of them being behind or at the line of scrimmage. Out all those throws Goff only had 80 yards through the air meaning that his receivers accounted for 195 yards after the catch. What I am conveying to you here is that Goff will not win the game he is a good game manager but if the Eagles can stop the run and make him have to pass downfield that is a recipe for disaster when it comes to Goff. If the Eagles can pressure Goff and make tackles at the catch point there is no reason for them not to have a dominant day on defence.
The Rams two biggest threats on offence are Woods and Kupp, I expect Slay to follow Woods as he did McLaurin in week 1 with Kupp in the slot he should be matched up against Robey-Coleman who said earlier this week that he is extra pumped to play his former team. Slay found success in week 1 being targeted 6 times and only giving up 3 completions for 30 yards and no touchdowns while also having 3 total tackles. Robey-Coleman only gave up 2 completions himself for 30 yards and no touchdowns while having 2 tackles. Woods and Kupp are a much more difficult matchup for the Eagles but as I said earlier if the Eagles can pressure Goff he will be off in his accuracy, if Slay and Robey-Coleman can just do there job and not give up any big plays I think the Eagles will be fine. A main factor will be stopping the run, one of Jim Schwartz’s favourite things to say has a huge impact on the game. As stated above Goff had 112 of his 275 total yards come off play action if the Eagles stop the run they would also be eliminating the threat of play action forcing Goff to stand in the pocket and deliver throws which he has proven he is not capable of when under pressure.
In summary the Eagles should see a much improved offence with multiple starters returning, I do expect Wentz to bounce back as well as the coaches having more ways to move Wentz and keep him clean. Miles Sanders gives Wentz another dynamic option in the passing game along with a major improvement to the running attack, having Lane back will give Wentz more time in the pocket as well. The defence should also see improvements heading into week 2 with a healthy D-line they need to wreck havoc in this game and take it over for the Eagles. Doug Pederson has never started his career 0-2 and the Eagles are a resilient team that you can expect will be ready to prove all the doubters wrong, almost as if they enjoy being the underdogs. Its hard not to panic after a disappointing week 1 but we have to remember there was no preseason and it will take teams sometime to acclimate to the regular season, I can guarantee you the Eagles will look different in week 2 and most likely the Rams will too. This should be a tough game that I can see going either way, if the Eagles can stay healthy and put pressure in Goff’s face I see them winning this game, if they can’t it might not be such a fun day in Philly.