What Problems Need to Be Fixed For the Eagles to Clinch the NFC East?
Coming off an uninspiring victory against the Dallas Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles are standing on top of the NFC (L)East at 3-4-1. This week they are finally able to rest on their bye week and figure out how to turn things around.
We’re halfway through the season, so with that being said, what can this team do to stay on top of the division? The final eight games of the season include some of the toughest teams in the league, so the Eagles need to use this bye week smartly.
Carson Needs to Stop Turning the Ball Over
We can all agree Carson Wentz has not been performing the way we would have wanted or expected. With a career-high in interceptions (12) in just eight games, Wentz needs to reevaluate his decisions and not always try to make a play out of nothing. He had four turnovers last game alone against a historically bad Cowboys defense. His 16 turnovers this season are more than 30 teams' turnover totals. It should be an easy decision if he’s getting pressured to just throw it away, but that has not been the case. If Wentz wants to lead his team to the playoffs, he’s going to have to stop playing "hero ball", play smarter, and stop turning the ball over.
Run Defense Needs to Be Adjusted
In 2017 and 2018, the Eagles' run defense was pretty difficult to get past, but this season it’s a little different. In their first eight games, opponents have averaged 29.9 rush attempts per game against the Eagles. The only other team that has been run on more is the Cowboys. This run defense just isn't as trustworthy as the ones in years past -- if my grandmother was given a handoff she could probably run through this defense for a touchdown (of course not including Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox).
My solution to this issue would simply give other players a chance. Players like Nate Gerry, Nickell Robey-Coleman, and Cre'Von LeBlanc have not been performing at a high-level, so I believe it is time for someone else to get a chance and show what they got. The team drafted linebackers Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley, so why not through them into the mix to see what they can offer? It can't possibly be worse than what Gerry is doing on the field. The same thing goes for K'Von Wallace -- he's a safety, but can perform as a slot cornerback as well. Why not get him on the field and see if we have any sparks that fly. The Eagles found players like Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward after they were thrown into the fire, so it could potentially work for the defense if Jim Schwartz is willing to try it.
Go Back to Having a Reliable Kicker
Even though he has not been making a lot of his kicks in recent games, it's hard to blame just Jake Elliott for the special teams' woes. There could be a lot of factors going into those kicking problems that can't be seen by a fan's naked eye (bad holds, unpredictable wind gusts, etc). Through eight games, Elliot is 8/12 on field goals, and just 1/4 on 50+ field goal attempts (something he was previously known to be clutch at). Whatever he’s been dealing with needs to be fixed, and if he can't work things out it might be time for the Eagles to move on to another kicker. Doug Pederson can't continue to keep going for two-point conversions, especially when the other team is expecting it and is fully prepared for whatever is called against them.
There are eight games left in the season, it’s time for this team to show up and give us everything they’ve got.