With eight games completed, the Eagles are sporting a 3-5 record, after their offensive and defensive lines dominated the 0-8 Detroit Lions. Their domination of the Detroit Lions was a breath of fresh air for a football team that was having trouble finding their identity on offense and defense.
Head coach Nick Sirianni and his staff had been running more than 80% of their offense through second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts. He’s been their leading passer, ball carrier and touchdown scorer through the first eight games of the season and that’s too much to ask.
On Sunday against Detroit, they put the ball in the hands of some of their players not named Jalen Hurts. They leaned on their running backs and ran the ball down the throats of the Lions defense for 236 yards. The Birds gave their offensive line a chance to come out and established their dominance in the game. They didn’t run as many RPO’s, which was Sirianni’s way of taking some of the weight of the offense off the back of Hurts. They handed the ball to running backs, Boston Scott and Jordan Howard, and they both ran with passion.
Going forward, Sirianni and his staff must make running plays a constant part of the Eagles offense. I’m not saying that they should become a run dominant team, but it should be 30 to 40% of the offense in each game.
As for the passing game going forward, Hurts needs to be more accurate with his throws. One of the most important goals of the rest of the season is to see if Hurts is the long time answer for this football team at the quarterback position. Can he successfully operate the entire pass offense from the pocket? Can he stand in there and make all of the reads (decisions) and throws?
Tight end Dallas Goedert be a significant part of the passing offense. I think he will put up big numbers in the final nine games of the season. He’s one of the most talented tight ends in the game and all they need to do is give him opportunities to show it.
Wide receivers Davonte’ Smith and Quez Watkins have the talent to be quality receivers in this league, but they need to grow. Smith needs to do a better job of catching passes that are contested and Watkins needs to improve his route running.
Defensively, I expect the Birds defensive line to step up their game. Javon Hargrave has been their best player. Fletcher Cox can play better than he has in the first eight games. We’re starting to see Josh Sweat come into his own. I think he can be a Pro Bowler. Derek Barnett gives maximum effort and plays both the run and the pass. I want to see this group dominate some of the games down the stretch.
I thought we got a good performance out of T.J. Edwards against the Lions. He was attacking the line of scrimmage, which is something I want to see more of out of our linebackers. Our backers must make more tackles at and behind the line of scrimmage.
Cornerback Darius Slay is trying to earn himself another trip to the Pro Bowl with his interceptions and return for a touchdown. We saw another good game from Avante Maddox with that great forced fumble. He’s getting better and better as a player.
The Eagles have a number of very important goals during the rest of the season. One of them is finding out if Sirianni is a legitimate NFL head coach. This was a big win over the winless Lions, but we’ll see where things go from here.
Another goal the Birds have is finding players who are currently on the roster, who will help them build a playoff football team.
In addition, the Eagles have a very easy schedule the rest of the way. If the Birds play well, it wouldn’t be a miracle for them to have a 6-3 record in the final nine games.
Could a 9-8 record put them in the playoffs? I doubt it, but 10-7 could get them in there, so stay tuned.