Good Morning! The Eagles have traveled across the pond to London to square off against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. After 30 minutes of action, the Birds are trailing, 10-6. Here's what we saw in the first half:
- Whoa Nelly! With the exception of the Giants game, Nelson Agholor had struggled to make big plays in 2018, averaging just 8.5 yards per catch heading into today. Agholor had just 20 yards last week, but he surpassed that number on his first catch of the day, a 39-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter. The Eagles offense is at its best when Agholor is stressing defenses down the field and as a runner.
- Rookie playmakers. Avante Maddox has come up with a pair of big plays in the first half. The rookie fourth-round pick had a huge TFL in the first quarter on third-and-short to force a punt and later forced a fumble late in the second half to give the Eagles a short field on their final drive of the half. Maddox has been dealt a tough hand this year, being forced learn a new position mid-season, but he has shown he can play. Howie Roseman may have struck gold with this kid. Dallas Goedert made a nice run after the catch on his touchdown.
- Another slow start. The Eagles' first drive was a perfect microcosm of the Birds season so far. Carson Wentz made a pair of unbelievable plays, catching a 4-yard pass from himself and later eluding the pass rush and hitting Jordan Matthews for a 31-yard completion on third-and-long. However, Wentz fumbled on the next play. The Jaguars had forced just 5 turnovers all season, but Wentz's fumbles have been his biggest issue in his young career.
- Too conservative. Jim Schwartz's ultra-conservative defense on third-and-long situations has been very successful for the Eagles over the last three years, but allowing 15 yards late in the second quarter allowed 15 yards, and gave the Jaguars a chance to kick a 57-yard field goal, which gave them a 6-3. Understandably, Schwartz doesn't want to get too aggressive and allow a big play that moves the chains, but the Eagles' situational awareness has to be better in that situation.
The Eagles' red zone offense has been terrible in recent weeks. We talked a few weeks ago about how things weren't as bad as they seem, but if the offense can't score on big plays, it needs to turn these red zone opportunities into touchdowns. The Eagles settled for a 31-yard field on their first red zone try and have yet to show any creativity near the end zone all year.
The loss of Frank Reich and John Defilippo have been a big reason for the offense's struggles, but nowhere is that more apparent than in the red zone.
Second-Half X-Factor: Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Lane Johnson left the game at the end of the first drive with a knee injury and Big V replaced him at right tackle, but the second-year lineman has now shifted to left tackle after Jason Peters' injury. Wentz has struggled mightily today and the Eagles offensive line has been allowing a lot of pressure. Wentz has been sacked twice and hit 6 times. Vaitai and the rest of the line needs to protect Wentz and give him a chance to make plays.