The Buffalo Bills will have another home game this week when the Philadelphia Eagles come to town. Buffalo is coming off a hard-fought victory against the Miami Dolphins while the Eagles seemed over matched by the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. To preview this match-up we talked to Brandon Gowton at Bleeding Green Nation to get the scoop on the Eagles.
1) What are fans thinking after the performance against the Cowboys?
Eagles fans are rightfully frustrated. Sunday night was a big opportunity for the Eagles to seize first in the NFC East. Instead, the team no-showed for a critical game. The Eagles stunk in every phase and dropped to 0-4 in their last four games against Dallas.
The Eagles have lost their last two games by a combined score of 75 to 30. That’s just not good enough. This team should be more competitive than that.
It’s obviously too early to give up on the season entirely. If the Eagles can manage to win their week, they’ll be 4-4 at the halfway point. Their schedule also gets easier towards the end of the year.
But it’s hard to really feel great about this team right now. They have an aging, injured roster. The coaching staff isn’t doing much to inspire confidence. Carson Wentz is coming off his worst game of the year and even when he’s played well he hasn’t been able to get any freaking help from his skill guys. Howie Roseman’s assembled an extremely non-threatening cast of slow, plodding offensive “weapons.” The Eagles continue to start slow every week; they’re the only team in the NFL this season that’s allowed 20+ points in the first half of five games. The Eagles are far from an enjoyable watch since they constantly have to play from behind.
So, yeah, fans aren’t feeling so great.
2) People may not understand how much this team has been impacted by injuries, which ones have had the greatest impact?
The DeSean Jackson injury has really killed the Eagles. Prior to the season, BGN wrote an article titled: “Why DeSean Jackson is the most important Eagle not named Carson Wentz.”
Jackson’s ability to stretch the field is crucial for this offense. Without him, the Eagles don’t have much speed on offense. Defenses don’t have to worry about getting beat deep with Jackson missing from the lineup. The Eagles have to rely on methodically moving the ball down the field instead of hitting on some chunk plays.
Pairing the absence of Jackson with regular slow starts is a recipe for failure. The Eagles got down 20-7 in to Washington in Week 1 but they were easily able to come back thanks to Jackson’s big play ability. Now the Eagles get down and there’s no one that can really be counted on to make a big play.
It’s unclear if/when Jackson will return to the lineup. I wouldn’t expect him to play against the Bills this week.
Defensively, the Eagles have had terrible luck at defensive tackle. That spot was looking like a position of strength heading into the season. Then the Eagles lost free agent signing Malik Jackson to a season-ending injury in Week 1. Then fill-in starter Timmy Jernigan suffered a broken foot in Week 2. And now fourth defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, who had been playing well, is also on injured reserve.
This means the Eagles are down to just Fletcher Cox, Anthony Rush, and Albert Huggins at defensive tackle. Cox is obviously a special talent when healthy but he hasn’t looked like himself this season as he’s been coming off a foot injury suffered in January. Cox didn’t have his first sack until last week. Rush and Huggins are undrafted rookie free agents who’ve never appeared in an NFL regular season game and only signed to the Eagles’ 53-man roster earlier this week.
3) Carson Wentz has had his good games and his bad games, do fans believe in him as the future?
I think most do. And they should.
Wentz is not even near the top of the list when it comes to the problems with this team. Wentz is actually the third-highest-graded quarterback by Pro Football Focus, which suggests he’s playing much better than his traditional stats show.
Wentz has been really hurt by the absence of Jackson. Again, there’s just no player on the team who can be relied on to make an explosive play. Nelson Agholor is the best candidate but he’s demonstrated that he struggles to track the deep ball. And even when he *has* tracked it, he’s dropped it, as he did with a potential game-winning touchdown pass in Week 2.
This isn’t to suggest Wentz could be playing better. He could afford to get the ball out quicker and improve upon his accuracy. But it feels like Wentz has to play perfect just for the Eagles to even have a chance each week. And if he’s anything less than stellar, the Eagles are just going to get blown out. Wentz’s teammates need to do a better job of helping him out.
4) How can the Eagles get back on track?
Great question. I don’t know.
Not stinking in all three phases — offense, defense, special teams — should help. Getting off to some fast starts would be great. Playing with urgency could be cool.
They just need to be smarter and better. #Analysis.
5) Predictions for Sunday and why?
This is a tough spot for the Eagles. It’s never easy to win on the road. Winning on the road in your third straight road game played is even tougher. Not to mention the Bills are 9-1 straight up as home favorites in the Sean McDermott era.
There’s every reason to not feel so great about the Eagles right now. And yet, one thing that makes me think they stand a chance this week is how this team has fought for Doug Pederson in the past. Pederson’s found a way to motivate his players coming off some really bad losses. That could be the case this week.
I’m not quite sure how the Eagles’ sluggish offense will manage to score much against Buffalo’s tough defense. But I do think the Eagles’ defense might be able to hold up against Josh Allen.
I expect a low scoring game that the Eagles barely win, 17 to 16.