The Eagles are tied for first in the NFC East heading into Sunday’s home opener against the Giants. New York just lost 24-10 on Monday Night Football to the Lions and looked pretty awful doing so, now headed to town on a short week with something to prove. With Philly already topping Washington and Dallas a total mess right now, the Eagles enter Week 3 looking like the best team in the division. But at 1-1 with injuries, inconsistent line play and no running game whatsoever, they still have a ton of questions to answer. Here are seven we’re asking.
How in the world was this offensive line the top ranked OL in the NFL?
Pro Football Focus ranked every position group on every team in the NFL before the season and after two weeks, their assessment of the Eagles offensive line looks pretty silly..
The Eagles offensive line allowed six sacks against the Chiefs Sunday, the most in the Carson Wentz era. Only one quarterback — Cleveland rookie Deshone Kizer — has been sacked more times than Wentz so far this season. (Cleveland’s OL was ranked No. 2.)
We’ve mentioned the complete lack of a run game a lot this week, but the focus has to be placed on a unit that was supposed to be a strength of the Eagles’ offense this year. Through two games, it hasn’t been, and it begs the question of why the Eagles were willing to trade Allen Barbre. Yes, it was the last year of his contract, but so far his replacement has looked wholly overmatched.
Who will the starting left guard be against the Giants, and who will the starting left guard be after the Giants?
Barbre was jettisoned because the Eagles felt they had cheaper and younger options at guard. They gave Isaac Seumalo the starting gig in camp and he’s looked, in a word, bad.
Doug Pederson was asked Monday what issues he sees with Seumalo. “I think some of it is just, he can drop his head,” Pederson said. “Some linemen will drop their head. Late hands. In a loud stadium, could be a little late off the ball which is not good, but they are all fixable, correctable things. He’s smart and he knows where to go. He understands the scheme, both run and pass. He’s one that we continue to work and build with.”
It doesn’t sound like his job is in jeopardy, yet. The Eagles list Chance Warmack as the only backup at guard with Stefen Wisniewski listed as the backup center also able to play guard. Warmack has been inactive the first two weeks.
Does LeGarrette Blount care about your fantasy team?
Blount went way too high in far too many fantasy drafts — we warned you about this — and now those fantasy football owners are angry that he’s not scoring the number of touchdowns they expected him to get. Well does Blount care?
No. Blount does not care about your fantasy team.
Who is the starting running back?
Pederson has said who gets on the field at running back is based on matchups. Given the Eagles only want to throw the ball, it’s natural Darren Sproles will get more snaps than Blount or Wendell Smallwood.
“From the standpoint of game plan, defenses do focus on 43 [Sproles] when he’s in the game,” Pederson said Monday. “So there were times yesterday that we used him, quick, quick motions in and out of the backfield that opened up some throws for us. There’s a lot of attention placed on him. So yeah, we can definitely go into games knowing that and thinking that way and put him in positions to help us be more successful offensively.”
Okay, Sproles is going to be in for pass plays, but someone needs to actually carry the football. Who will that be?
“Obviously my job, Frank’s job, we’ve got to find ways to get these guys on the field,” Pederson said, referencing offensive coordinator Frank Reich. “We feel like our running backs are good running backs. They have proven that. Again, as I said last night after the game, it’s not one guy. We’ve got to focus entirely on the entire run game, quarterbacks included. They are part of it, too.”
The guy just can’t help himself can he? His run game is in shambles, people are openly questioning if the backs are good enough to play at this level and Pederson always makes it about the quarterback, even when it’s not.
The more people ask who will run the ball, the more I expect Pederson to have Wentz throw the ball 80 times Sunday with zero runs.
Who is healthy in the secondary?
Ronald Darby is still out at least another month after dislocating his ankle in Week 1. Rodney McLeod and Jaylen Watkins both left Sunday’s game early with hamstring injuries and both are listed as day-to-day, with more information coming Wednesday.
Rookie Rasul Douglas saw extended time in the game against the Chiefs and played well, so expect him to get more snaps at corner along with Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson, which will allow Malcolm Jenkins to stay at safety more often than not. Jenkins, depending on matchup, has moved to the slot corner position, but unless or until everyone is healthy, it might make sense to keep Jenkins at home. Corey Graham filled in for McLeod Sunday, so if either he or Watkins is unable to go this coming week, expect Graham to step in, then expect a lot of shuffling with the backups.
The Giants have dynamic wide receivers, but their offensive line has look atrocious, and Eli Manning looks flat scared behind them. With the amount of pressure the Eagles have been able to get on the quarterback, it may not matter if the secondary is banged up against New York.
While the Eagles offense line is clearly overrated, the defensive line might be one of the best in football. They held the Chiefs’ offense in check for much of the Week 2 loss, an impressive feat given how the Chiefs dismantled the New England Patriots to start the season. Sunday could be fun for the Eagles D-line.
Are the Eagles too predictable?
Of course Doug Pederson doesn’t think so. “We make sure that formationally, we’re mixing it up, run, pass and screen, play-pass,” Pederson said. “It’s something that we look at hard each and every Monday, not only from the first two games combined, but moving forward; that we don’t have that many tendencies.”
Carson Wentz threw the ball more than 600 times last year. So far this season he’s thrown, run or been sacked 101 times to just 33 handoffs. The Eagles have nine rushes in the second half of both games this season.
The Eagles threw seven passes to running backs Sunday. Two of those passes went to Sproles 14 and 16 yard gains, but none of the other five gained more than one yard, including the pass Wentz threw off a defender’s helmet that was intercepted. The offense had 35 first-and-10 situations Sunday (including the field goal at the end of the half and the Hail Mary at the end of the game) and called run plays just eight times. On third downs, including three short-yardage situations, the offense threw 12 times, Wentz scrambled twice and he was sacked once.
The Eagles are far too predictable on offense, and the fact Pederson either doesn’t know it or won’t admit it is a concern at this point in his tenure.
Is there any update on Jon Dorenbos?
The guy is amazing. And modern science is real magic.