Hopefully, by now, you’ve calmed down. The pressure that comes with the discussion of an undefeated season is gone, but that isn’t important… not now. What is important is the Philadelphia Eagles have a game to play on Sunday in Week 11 versus the Indianapolis Colts.
As far as the loss versus the Washington Commanders is concerned, though it taught us a lot, upsets in the NFL aren’t uncommon, especially in Philly. More often than not, each Eagles season carries with it, an unexplainable loss, one that often comes when we least expect it.
Okay, in 2020, the Eagles weren’t that good, but that tie versus the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 was a little peculiar, as was the 2019 Week 13 loss to the Miami Dolphins and the Cam Newton-led come-from-behind Carolina Panthers victory over the Birds during Week 7 of the 2018 season.
The point in all of that is this. Good teams lose to bad teams sometimes, but Philadelphia is still a great football team. Have you watched the Buffalo Bills these past two weeks? Every good NFL team is flawed, but the Eagles have a lot more winning to do, especially if they don’t beat themselves. All they have to do is prevent one loss from spiraling into two.
Steadying the ship may be an easier proposition than you realize.
Here are five easy adjustments that will get the Eagles back in the winner’s circle.
Truthfully, there are about 20 reasons we can give you that strengthen the argument that this team will be okay, but here is a handful of some of the easy fixes.
Jonathan Gannon has to be flexible.
There’s really no way to prove this, but trust us when we tell you that there’s a theory floating around that Jonathan Gannon might be a tad stubborn. While playing to your players’ strengths is important, it’s equally so to recognize where they are deficient and adjust.
J.G.’s scheme leaves much to be desired, but this defense was never built to stop the run. It was built to attack the quarterback assuming the offense had already constructed a lead. Now, that we know that, it would be unwise to stick by one’s guns regardless of what’s taking place on the field, which brings us to another theory.
Understand that every game has its own personality.
Versus Washington, once Shane Steichen realized that Philly’s defense was getting its arse handed to them, it probably would have been wise to abandon the pass-happy game plan earlier. After all, it was the Eagles’ running game that led to the first score of the game after the defense forced an early turnover.
In the second quarter, a turnover and punt put Philly’s defense back on the field to endure more of the bludgeoning for much longer than it should have. A second-half adjustment was made. The Eagles employed the running game and seized some of the momenta, but they should have done so earlier.
While preparation is important, every game has its own personality, and once Philly realized they were in a fistfight, they shouldn’t have waited so long to counterpunch. Hopefully, they have learned their lesson.
Put an extra linebacker on the field in obvious running situations.
Speaking of adjustments, this might be one of the easier ones. The Eagles have seven linebackers on the roster. It may be time to give them some more playing time, especially that Nakobe Dean fellow. Sink or swim, it may be time to see what he has.
Rather than keep the additional cornerback on the field with two linebackers in obvious running situations, it might behoove the Birds to throw another linebacker on the field to stop the bleeding in what’s been a porous first and second level.
Fletcher Cox isn’t built to play 70 snaps, and he and Javon Hargrave are better pass rushers than run defenders.
Get Zach Pascal more involved in the passing game with Dallas Goedert injured.
Zach Pascal is a much more accomplished receiving threat than he’s given credit for being. We know he’s physical. If Philly is looking for the guy to get tough yards and be an additional weapon in the red zone and on third down, this is the guy that they need to rely on, not Tyree Jackson.
The Eagles must maintain balance on offense.
We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again! Run the ball! The Eagles have the best offensive line in football. Even after a loss, Pro Football Focus still grades them as number one. Let them lean on people.
The Eagles have been inconsistent in all three phases of the game except for the one involving handing the ball off to their tailbacks and letting them find the holes created by the five guys standing in front of them. If they employ a more balanced offensive attack, good things will happen. They always do.
Bonus: Find another returner for the Eagles’ special teams unit.
Britain Covey isn’t an NFL player. The special teams unit has been awful. What was going on with the rugby-style punt by Arryn Siposs? The penalty removed the advantage that the Eagles had in knowing they had the two-minute warning by the way.
No, the special teams unit’s struggles aren’t all on Covey, but it is worth noting that the return game is an area we all can agree needs a tuneup. Step number one, replace the little guy that gets crushed on every return and never improves field position. That won’t fix everything, but it will definitely help this team as a whole.