The Eagles (and legions of their fans) traveled to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans. After 30 minutes of football, the Birds lead, 10-3, thanks to a 56-yard touchdown pass and Avante Maddox's first career interception. Here's what we saw in the first half of today's game:
- Michael Bennett Arrives. Bennett was the Eagles' biggest addition this offseason and the veteran made his presence felt in a big way early in the game. In addition to his sack that ended the Titans' second drive, Bennett had a half-dozen pressures on Marcus Mariota and dominating any lineman he lined up against. On a day where the Eagles defense looked mediocre, Bennett has been a huge bright spot.
- A healthy offense. Despite looking out of sorts at times, the Eagles offense looks healthy for the first time all year. The return of Alshon Jeffery seems to have opened things up for Zach Ertz over the middle and Jordan Matthews was able to sneak up the seam for a 56-yard touchdown. After grinding for points and yards in the first few weeks, it looks like the Eagles offense finally has some explosiveness.
- Protection problems. The Eagles' first drive was derailed by the Titans pass rush, which got to Carson Wentz twice, hitting the QB and forcing a pair of incompletions. Tennessee employs a complex, amoeba-style defensive front that can bring a variety of exotic looks. The Eagles need to think about keeping in a tight end or running back to keep Wentz off the ground.
- Coverage woes. The Titans came into today's game with the reputation as a team that could run the ball and do nothing else offensively. But Tennessee has run a lot of play action and taken advantage of the Eagles' undermanned secondary and overeager defensive front. We've written about the Eagles defensive struggles on the road, but despite only giving up 3 points, Mariota has carved up the Eagles defense and there have been a lot of easy throws down the field for the former Oregon Duck.
The Eagles offensive line needs to figure out how to keep up with the Titans' defensive line stunts. Wentz was knocked around and completed just 5 of his first 12 pass attempts due to the consistent pressure in his face. Jeff Stoutland and the offensive line needs to neutralize the Titans' pass rush and give Wentz a chance to push the ball down the field like he did on that TD pass to Matthews.
Second Half X-Factor: Jalen Mills
The much-maligned corner has been isolated on Corey Davis a lot today and he's been beat for a pair of deep passes and it could've been worse if Davis didn't drop a would-be touchdown on the game's opening drive. If Mills can keep up with the Western Michigan product and limit the big plays, the Eagles' lead should be safe in the second half.