The Eagles’ title defense has not exactly gone as planned in the early going. Not only have they already matched their loss total from a year ago, but the offense doesn’t look anything like the unit that led them to their first ever Super Bowl victory. They currently rank 25th in the league in scoring and 20th in total offense. The Eagles also lead the league in fumbles, which is a major contributor to their -4 turnover ratio (4th worst in the NFL). A year ago, they ranked 4th best in turnover ratio.
The offensive line appears to be the biggest issue. The Eagles have allowed the 7th-most sacks in the NFL. In their last two games, (both losses) the Eagles were unable to protect Carson Wentz, and this led to some key turnovers in critical moments.
On Sunday against the Vikings, Minnesota returned a fumble for a touchdown by getting to Wentz as he was throwing. On that play, right tackle Lane Johnson got beat by defensive end Stephen Weatherly on a quick move inside.
A four-man rush was able to collapse the pocket and generate defensive points. Not what you want.
Later in the game, with the Eagles trailing 20-14, Wentz took an intentional grounding penalty that knocked Philly out of field goal range. Both his tackles were beat on this play. Johnson got beat by the same move inside by the same guy. Also watch left tackle Jason Peters closely on this one.
He gets caught leaning and reaching due to his feet not getting into position quickly enough. Peters’ feet have looked a beat slower since he returned from his torn MCL and ACL. This isn’t surprising. It might take him some time to regain the form that made him arguably the best pass-blocking left tackle in the game before his injury.
Between injuries to Peters, Wentz, and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, there is understandable rust on this offense. They are just not quite clicking as a unit yet. Dropped passes, missed blocks, fumbles, and the lack of a consistent rushing attack have thwarted drives and kept the Eagles from dominating games with their offense. The loss of Jay Ajayi will only add to Philly’s issues on the ground. Unfortunately, the NFL schedule doesn’t pause to allow recovery time for injuries.
The good news for the Eagles is that Carson Wentz still looks pretty damn good, and he’s the most important part of this offense. He might not be firing on all cylinders quite yet, but he has made several throws since returning to the lineup that make you feel like the Eagles could break out of their offensive funk at any moment.
In a division where 9-7 might get the job done, Philadelphia is very much still the favorite to take home the NFC East crown. If they can get their pass protection issues ironed out, they should get back to putting up points similar to how they did in 2017. The Eagles’ Thursday Night Game against the Giants, a team that struggles to get to the quarterback (T-last in sacks), could be their first step towards breaking out of their early-season malaise.