What the Philadelphia Eagles are going through is out of the ordinary for a team considered a Super Bowl contender. The Eagles are the first team to start 10-1 and lose three straight games since the New York Jets in 1986 as their knack for winning close games and coming from behind to win has caught up with them.
The victories masked internal problems within the organization. The defensive coordinator was Sean Desaiin favor of Matt Patricia, while many players in the team give each other praise for the betterment of the organization. Jaylen Hurts after Monday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks speaks volumes about where the locker room is right now.
Are the Eagles’ problems at a point of no return? Can Philadelphia fix this in time for the playoffs or will this be one of the most disappointing seasons in Eagles history? Addressing the issues going on with this team is a start.
Locker room issues
Tracking locker room issues is the first thing the Eagles have to deal with. Darius Slay came out and said he played well in the loss to the Dallas Cowboys, even though the defense played poorly in every way. James Bradbury hinted at the defensive play-caller when he gave up the game-winning touchdown (Matt Patricia’s first game as a play-caller), while AJ Brown took to social media to shut down the narrative that he’s in Jalen Hurts’ head and Hearts forced the ball to him.
The dysfunction in the locker room is real and it doesn’t look good when two captains (Hearts and Slay) have different approaches to it. Other issues were also growing in the locker room that weren’t a cause for concern when the team was 10-1 and atop the NFC.
The best way to deal with what happens in the locker room? Players probably shouldn’t go on social media and address the issues. Eagles like to keep things internal, and for good reason.
A change in defensive play
There have been communication issues with the defense all season, especially at the back end. The pass defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks to have a 98.2 passer rating this season (29th in the NFL) and 30 passing touchdowns (31st in the NFL).
Scheme complications and communication issues led to a change in defensive play from Desai to Patricia. The Eagles were the worst defense in the NFL from Weeks 8-14, ranking last in several categories. A change had to be made on that side if the Eagles were going to salvage the season.
In Patricia’s debut, the Eagles gave up 92 yards with less than two minutes to play in a 20-17 loss to the Seahawks. Even with backup quarterback Drew Lock’s late collapse, the Eagles gave up 20 points, 297 yards, 5.0 yards per play and held the Seahawks to 6 of 14 on third down.
The staff is the same and the treatment is still bad. Bradberry is one of the worst cover corners in the league this year, depth at linebacker remains an issue and the pass rush has yet to come home.
The defense should be better based on the competition of teams (and quarterbacks) it has played over the last three games (Giants, Cardinals, Giants). Will it be better by the end of the season? With the personnel issues the Eagles have at key positions, a short-term solution won’t solve the long-term problem.
The Jalen Hurts game
Hurts is not the elite quarterback the Eagles have become accustomed to over the last three games, all losses. During that three-game stretch, Hurts has completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 638 yards with one touchdown to two interceptions for a 72.4 passer rating (29th in the NFL). He also failed in two of those three races.
Hurts doesn’t pass the ball well and turns it over at an alarming rate with three turnovers in their last three games (also has three rushing touchdowns in that stretch). He is also tied for the NFL lead with 17 turnovers this season, averaging 1.13 turnovers per game.
Despite a recent stretch of poor play and passing issues, Hurts is on pace for 4,708 total yards and 40 touchdowns this season. He hasn’t forgotten how to play football, though he needs to start taking what he’s given instead of forcing the deep pass. On passes that have traveled more than 25 yards in the last three games, Hurts is 1 of 11 for 30 yards with zero touchdowns to two interceptions for a 0.0 passer rating.
Hurts is one of the best deep-ball quarterbacks in the league, recording seven touchdown passes that traveled more than 25 yards (second in the NFL) and a 97.2 passer rating (10th in the NFL) on such passes . The Eagles need to take what the defense gives them instead of forcing what they don’t have.
Turnovers will decrease and the offense will move the ball more efficiently. This can be easily fixed.