The offensive line is a major liability
Coming into the season, many NFL experts labeled the Eagles’ offensive line as one of their greatest strengths. Pro Football Focus even ranked the Eagles’ offensive line as the best offensive line in the NFL before the season began. After watching the Eagles’ offensive line against the Chiefs, it is safe to say that all of these ‘experts’ were grossly incorrect. The offensive line is not a strength and an asset, but rather a major weakness and a massive liability.
Quarterback Carson Wentz was sacked a whopping six times on Sunday afternoon, thanks to this disaster of an offensive line. On plays when he was not sacked, Wentz often had little time to throw the ball, causing him to throw the ball away in order to avoid losing yardage. Additionally, Wentz’s interception was mainly the fault of the offensive line, as he lacked a sufficient amount of time to make a good pass. Furthermore, the Eagles’ run game was nonexistent, partially due to lack of sufficient blocking. In fact, Wentz was also the Eagles’ leading rusher, finishing the game with 55 yards on the ground.
The main weak link on the O-line was second-year guard Isaac Seumalo. Seumalo was incapable of making blocks during the entire game and made life quite easy for the Kansas City defensive line. The Chiefs’ pass rushers feasted on Seumalo’s mistakes and lack of effort. If the Eagles want to remain competitive and have a shot at winning games against the league’s top teams, then the O-line needs to get it together soon. Perhaps the Eagles should take a look at some of their other guards, given Seumalo’s struggles and poor play.
The running game is nonexistent
Prized offseason acquisition LeGarrette Blount was nowhere to be found Sunday afternoon, as he did not receive any carries against the Chiefs. Blount has looked nothing like the player he was for the Patriots last season when he ran for over 1,100 yards and scored 18 rushing touchdowns.
Blount was not the only running back to struggle for the Eagles on Sunday. In fact, the Eagles’ running game was downright dreadful, as quarterback Carson Wentz was the team’s leading rusher, finishing with 55 rushing yards. Darren Sproles ran for 48 yards on ten carries. Sproles was not bad, but it is never a good idea for a team to rely on a 5’6″, 34-year-old rusher to be its workhorse back. Second-year back Wendell Smallwood was also pretty bad, compiling just four yards on three carries.
Having your quarterback throw over 40 passes in a game is a recipe for disaster. All good teams must have at least a solid run game in order to win. Perhaps the Eagles should look for some outside help at the position. Former Vikings star Adrian Peterson does not appear too happy in New Orleans. Perhaps a change of scenery could save his career and the Eagles’ season. The Eagles have a huge problem on their hands that must be fixed quickly if they hope to make a playoff run and compete in a very tight NFC East.
The offseason moves at wide receiver have greatly paid off
This year’s receiving corps is night and day when compared to last year’s receiving corps. Zach Ertz is back and better than ever. He finished Sunday’s game with five catches for 97 yards. Prized offseason acquisition Alshon Jeffery is the #1 receiver the Eagles desperately needed. Jeffery was quite impressive, finishing with seven catches for 92 yards and his first touchdown as an Eagle.
The other big offseason acquisition, Torrey Smith, bounced back from a couple of early drops, finishing the day with four catches for 66 yards. Rookie fourth-round pick Mack Hollins made some impressive catches, finishing with three catches for 32 yards. Lastly, a rejuvenated Nelson Agholor continued his impressive resurgence, as he hauled in a nine-yard touchdown catch with nine seconds remaining in the game, to put the game within reach for the Eagles.
The Eagles’ receiving corps, or lack thereof, was a major reason why the team finished 2016 with a 7-9 record. Thanks to the changes the Eagles made in the offseason, they look like a brand new team on offense and Carson Wentz is finally starting to live up to his potential. Wentz looks much improved compared to last season, and his revamped receiving corps has played a major role in his development.
Injuries plagued the defense
The Eagles’ secondary was already a cause for concern to begin the season, and it is even more concerning after Sunday’s game. The Eagles were already without star cornerback Ronald Darby before Sunday’s game, but they finished Sunday’s game without safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Jaylen Watkins as well. McLeod and Watkins both suffered injuries against the Chiefs and were unable to return to the game.
Rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas actually played pretty well in Watkins’ absence. Douglas made some key tackles and did a solid job covering receivers. However, safety Corey Graham struggled when filling in for Rodney McLeod, as he missed some tackles and was late on some pass coverage. Furthermore, the Eagles’ defense seemed to lose a lot of steam in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs took advantage of this and scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, which allowed them to pull away with the victory.
The Eagles need Darby and McLeod to recover as quickly as possible. McLeod is a top-tier safety who is impossible to replace, and Jalen Mills struggled when tasked with taking over number one cornerback duties. Additionally, Watkins seemed to struggle before he was knocked out of the game. The Eagles have a very talented front seven, but they are going to need better play from their secondary, especially when they play their NFC East opponents. Covering Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr., Terrelle Pryor Sr., and all of the other talented NFC East receivers is no easy task, so the Eagles’ secondary must be ready to answer the challenge.
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