Thu. Dec 8th, 2022
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The Eagles got a win Sunday but they still seem to be a little bit broken

It’s not just that the Philadelphia Eagles, once the league’s final undefeated team at 8-0, lost to a team with a losing record in Week 10 and very nearly suffered the same fate in Week 11. It’s that they’ve looked silly in the process.

The Eagles lost to the Washington Commanders last Monday, turning the ball over multiple times and failing to drop their high octane offense into gear. The Eagles needed a last-minute touchdown drive to beat the Indianapolis Colts  on Sunday after turning the ball over multiple times and failing to drop their high octane offense into gear.

Philadelphia didn’t lead their Sunday showdown in Indiana until there were only 80 seconds left on the clock. Jalen Hurts’ offense didn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter. And while head coach Nick Sirianni trusted Hurts to dial up a 75-yard, game-winning touchdown drive in the game’s final minutes, Sunday’s win was as much about the Colts’ own failings as it was the Eagles’ ability to survive.

Some of these problems can be traced back to a failure to create big plays. Teams have taken their chances with Hurts’ running ability in order to keep two deep safeties on the field in passing downs, effectively limiting the impact of what had been one of the league’s most devastating downfield passing attacks. After averaging 16.7 yards per reception in Philly’s 8-0 start, A.J. Brown has only caught six passes for 67 yards the last two weeks (11.2 yards per catch).

Sirianni, to his credit, did try to free his WR1 with pick plays in big moments. But the execution was … lacking.

Here, on an important second half fourth-and-10, Brown is crossing at the same time as Zach Pascal, whose mission here is to get in his defender’s way without obviously altering his path so that it would offensive pass interference. But Pascal fails on both counts, Brown stays covered and, thanks to the safeties and a six-on-five defender:target advantage, Hurts can’t turn the extra time he buys scrambling into meaningful yardage.

Brown was guilty of his own brain fart three drives later when his run-after-catch fumble turned advantageous field position from a Colts turnover into another squandered opportunity.

TYVM.

: CBS pic.twitter.com/w8z9nidxty

— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) November 20, 2022

Another victim of the team’s newfound inability to execute has been the run game. The Eagles have Pro Football Focus’s top-ranked offensive line. Despite this, their running backs have gained only 121 yards on 31 carries the last two weeks with zero touchdowns. That’s a big turnaround from Weeks 1-9, where Philly’s backs averaged more than 106 yards per game on the ground.

Understandably, that’s led to more third-and-long situations, more defensive backs in Hurts’ orbit and a less efficient passing game. In their first eight games of the year, the Eagles’ expected points added (EPA) per passing play was 0.21 — fourth best in the league. In the two games since, that number is a -0.261 — second-worst among all NFL teams.

via RBSDM.com

This is all very concerning, even before you get to the outright weird stuff like Sirianni trying to get the Colts to jump offside on fourth-and-2 in the waning minutes of a 16-10 game by … barking cadences from the victory formation?

how could indianapolis possibly have known the Eagles weren’t going to run a play here pic.twitter.com/3cpdfyHv1H

— Christian D’Andrea (@TrainIsland) November 20, 2022

This nonsense forced them to burn a vital timeout that could have been the difference between one final legitimate drive and the Colts grinding the clock down to nearly nothing with the game on the line. This worked out in the end, but it also feels like the kind of thing a head coach would be excoriated for if the end result had gone the other way.

That’s kinda where the Eagles are. There appears to be some second-guessing and overthinking rather than relying on the horses that got this team to 8-0. Making adjustments in the middle of the season is vital to a franchise’s success. Fail to do that and you end up like Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona Cardinals. But Sirianni’s adjustments have yet to have the desired effect.

Fortunately for him, there’s still time to work out the kinks.

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