Well, nothing about yesterday’s game was very surprising. I mean, anyone who sincerely thought the Eagles had a chance to beat the Broncos is either delusional or just kidding himself. Even though the score was relatively close at halftime, there was no way the Eagles were going to come back and win. But while some people might blame the loss on the fact that they played the Broncos, the Eagles deserve a lot of the blame too…
Once again, the defense faltered and they gave up 52 points to the explosive offense of Peyton Manning and Co. They gave up 472 total offensive yards, including a passing efficiency that finished 31/37. The Broncos scored points all five times they got into the red zone. They had five penalties that led to Broncos first downs. And they gave up 35 first downs in all, a very high number. Something tells me the Eagles defense hasn’t improved at all since last year.
Going into the game, the Eagles had the 30th best defense in the league, so they weren’t the worst. But they made sure to fix that after yesterday’s game; they are now in last place in YPG against. They’re 31st in pass defense and 26th in run defense. Plus, they’re 31st in PPG against as well. The Eagles can only blame their poor defense on the transition to the 3-4 for a little while longer before teams are going to start to realize that their defense is just bad. No team with a defense that performs that poorly can win football games unless the game’s a shootout. But that’s where the next problem comes in.
Sure, the Eagles offense is very explosive at times, but the explosiveness of their Week 1 outing was probably a fluke. Teams have already figured out that they’re trying to do that and have adjusted their defensive schemes. The Eagles had the lowest average time of possession going into the game, and they lost the battle once again yesterday. But if the Eagles have the second best offense in terms of YPG, how did they only score 20 points against a relatively weak Denver defense? Red zone offense.
It’s not like they would drive down the field only to turn the ball over; they had 0 turnovers. It’s not like one of their top players got injured in the middle of the game and couldn’t return. The main reason for their measly 20 points is that they were 2/5 in the red zone. Their red zone play hasn’t been good in a while, and if Chip Kelly wants to squeeze more points out of his offense, then he should fix that aspect of their strategy. Whatever they’re doing just isn’t working. I don’t know if it’s the play-calling or the personnel, but he has to mix it up somewhere.
What’s nice is that the Eagles were still able to run the ball effectively against the best run defense (by far) in the league. They racked up 166 yards on 35 carries and a TD, which actually came from third-string RB Chris Polk. That’s nearly four times the amount of rushing yards that the Broncos were giving up per week…that’s impressive. And even though it doesn’t mean much, Nick Foles looked good in the little while he was running the offense yesterday, hooking up with Jeff Maehl for a nice TD at the end of the game.
But their top receivers need to start getting open. The top four WRs on the roster combined for 5 receptions for 68 yards, lower numbers than each of the top 3 receivers on the Broncos. And none of the top receivers scored for the Eagles. DeSean Jackson, who was leading the NFL in receiving yards after two weeks, looked like he was hiding out there. 2 catches on 6 targets is not enough for him.
The good news is that the Eagles schedule for the next few games looks promising. They’re next two games are the Giants and the Buccaneers, both of which are 0-4. Then they play Dallas (2-2), the Giants again, and the Raiders (1-3). So not all hope is lost here. All five of those games are winnable, but it really depends on how they decide to play defensively. You can’t win games without a solid defense, no matter how good your offense is.