Eagles Evaluation: Eagles Survive Bears Second-Half Surge

Embed from Getty Images

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Eagles were on their way to a totally dominant win, but the brakes fell off at the half.

The team defense pitched a shutout in the first half and then gave up huge drives in the second. The offense cruised at times and then would suddenly cease to function.

The team has plenty to address in their upcoming bye week before they host two of the leagues best teams following that.

Personnel Changes

Sidney Jones was actually inactive in this game while Craig James was not. His time is over in Philadelphia. If he isn’t traded in the offseason, I’d be totally shocked.

Darren Sproles retook the punt return and third-running back snaps from Boston Scott even though he muffed the best punt to return and dropped a pass that should have gone for over 20 yards.

Tim Jernigan retook the starting spot next to Cox, but Albert Huggins and Anthony Rush also played some snaps on the inside.

Newly-acquired DE/LB Genard Avery got his chance to play in this one and seems to have overtaken both Hall and Miller.

Stock Evaluations

Buy: Jalen Mills

Mills was again impressive and he appears to be playing better than he ever has. Arguably Trubisky’s best through of the game was a deep ball to Allen Robinson that was going to be an huge gain after Robinson high-pointed the ball at a spot Mills, who was close in coverage, couldn’t make a play. Not low on confidence, Mills stuck with the play and got his hand in there to force the ball out of a top receiver’s hands. He is now PFF’s 18th best corner this season and the Eagles would be crazy to let him walk away from this team.

His coverage this week was good enough that he needed only make two tackles and didn’t give up a big play.

Sell: Malcolm Jenkins

Jenkins is the party responsible for the big play that many may blame on Mills. Mills was covering outside on the Gabriel 50-yard reception while Jenkins was supposed to be playing inside. Instead, Jenkins stood still as Gabriel blew by and he didn’t move back to cover the position he was supposed to until the receiver had at least 10 yards on him.

Jenkins has been a disappointment and he would certainly not seem to be in line to get that deal he wanted before training camp from any team unless he picks up his play.

Buy: Genard Avery

Avery played just three defensive snaps in his first game with the Eagles. His stats in this game? Three tackles (one solo) and half a sack. He got pressure and was around the ball as much as he could be. If he can continue to play like that as he learns the system and his snap counts increase, the Eagles front seven will be much better off for the next few seasons.

Sell: Mack Hollins

Backpack Mack got his name called on Sunday! Unfortunately, it was by a referee who was calling back a big play because Hollins committed a hold. There is really no reason for him to be on the team.

Buy: Miles Sanders

Sanders has been big in the passing game already, but in this one he had just 31 yards on three receptions. That’s great for the team, but the reason to buy stock in Sanders now is his improvement in the ground game as he carried the ball 10 times for 42 yards. What is most encouraging about that is that his longest run that wasn’t called back for a hold was 11 yards. Even without a massive run this week, Sanders was able to put together a good day rushing as he becomes a more complete back by the week.

Sell: Alshon Jeffery

Alshon made a nice grab on the Eagles final offensive drive to extend the drive. Overall, that drive ate up eight and a half minutes of the clock. That would have been good had he not dropped three other third and fourth down conversions throughout the rest of the game.

The Eagles did a nice job of getting him open in those 10 to 20-yard routes that made them successful at Buffalo, but it means nothing if he doesn’t catch the ball. This could have been another excellent game for Jeffery, who would have been around 75 yards in this game without the drops and the Eagles would have controlled the clock even more than they already did. Instead, the Eagles lead the league in drops and Jeffery was embarrassing to watch as the Eagles top receiver routinely dropping the ball, literally, in clutch situations.

Buy: Zach Ertz

The Eagles finally got Zach Ertz involved in the passing game and they should do the same against a defense with weaker coverage linebackers next week. When the ball wasn’t being dropped by Alshon Jeffery on important downs, it seemed like Ertz was wide open on so many of them, leaking through coverage to convert for the Eagles. Ertz turned 11 targets into nine catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Wentz must have been thrilled to have a receiving target who could actually catch the ball.

And for all the haters, Ertz even decided to break a tackle in this one and gain some extra yardage.

Sell: Darren Sproles

Sproles retook the third running back position as well as the punt return duties. The best punt he had to return, he fumbled the ball out of bounds. He had two returns for a total of two yards. He added one catch for three yards and two carries for seven yards. Most importantly, he dropped a third-down pass that would have easily converted for a first down and could have gone for an easy 20 yards or more had he not dropped the ball.

Sproles was average at best for the few touches he made and on the two plays he got to change the game, he fumbled or dropped the ball. Not a great return to the lineup.

Buy: Jake Elliot

The Eagles have had shocking consistency at kicker for years despite players like Cody Parkey and Caleb Sturgis sticking around for just one full season a piece. Jake Elliot had shown he was clutch and could kick far before, but his consistency this season has been on a new level, though he did miss his second kick of the season this week (another extra point).

Jake Elliot also kicked a squib that the Eagles recovered to win the game this week. Excellent idea by the great Dave Fipp and great execution by Elliot.

Plus, what kickers have the swagger Elliot does?

Sell: Desean Jackson

DeSean’s return did nothing more than make sure he is still tied for a new low in “games played” in a regular season instead of below it when in reality he has played a handful of snaps across week two and week nine in order to register a “game played”. Maybe he’s a good receiver, but right now, his contract looks even worse than Alshon Jeffrey’s restructure with millions wasted to play one game against the lowly Redskins.

Editor’s Note: This article was written prior to the news that DeSean Jackson would be having surgery was released.

Sideline Chatter

  • Zach Ertz had his biggest game of the season and, if he can keep that up, the Eagles offense will be much better off.
  • Andrew Sendejo contributed to this one by having a personal foul called against him. The Eagles have player nine games and if they cut him before he plays 10, the Eagles could recoup a comp pick in the 2020 draft. The pick would be a fourth-rounder or a fifth-rounder.
  • Duke Riley had a couple of big plays in this one, including a goal-line stop and the recovery on the squib kick to end the game. His development, along with that of TJ Edwards is going to make the Eagles future much brighter than it would have been with Johnathan Cyprien playing a couple snaps each game.
  • Rasul Douglas continues to be an elite backup corner. He always seems to make plays when he is in in relief of a starter but not so much when he himself is starting.

Team Focus

The Eagles have an extra week to game plan for hosting the New England Patriots in a game that could further define this team along with the wins over both the Bills and Packers.

The Ravens just gave the Eagles a game plan to beat the Patriots and it would seem to be one the Eagles could execute – an offense predicated on targeting tight ends and running backs in the passing game and running the ball with two backs and a mobile QB. Take away the turnovers, and Baltimore would have had an even more convincing win in terms of both time of possession and score.

Go to top button