Eagles' issues might not be easy to fix

Eliot Shorr-Parks
December 02, 2019 - 7:49 am
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The Eagles went all in on this season, put together a team that was considered by some to be the best roster in the NFL and were a Super Bowl favorite. 

The Miami Dolphins went into this season trying to lose and fielded a team on Sunday that was made up of 42% undrafted players. 

One team was an elite franchise. The other was a joke. 

It sure didn’t look that way on Sunday. 

Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins was just another example of what a mess the Eagles currently are. They now have five wins on the season, only two more than a team actively trying to lose. 

The scary truth is that Eagles have quickly become a team that others no longer have to fear. 

Since the start of the 2018 season, they have lost just as much as they have won. They have been more likely to lose than win with Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz at quarterback, going 10-13. In a league built on offense, a team with an offensive-minded head coach and a franchise quarterback have struggled to score consistently. 

With each week that passes, it becomes more-and-more clear that their climb back to being one of the elite teams, and not losing to the ones like they did on Sunday, is not going to be an easy or short one. 

On Sunday they lost because of the defense, but with Jim Schwartz as the defensive coordinator, they have been a top-10 defense each season despite some clunkers — like against Miami — along the way. The true concern long-term is on offense. A quick look at the Eagles’ offense for next season shows that it is possible every single starter from this season will be a starter next season. That isn’t a good thing. 

DeSean Jackson will be a year older and coming off of major surgery. Alshon Jeffery has looked a step slower this season and it is hard imagine that getting better in 2020. Rookie receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has been non-existent, and at this point, it is hard to envision him even giving the Eagles next season what Nelson Agholor has this year. At tight end, Dallas Goedert has not lived up to the expectations of a second-round pick, but even if he had been, he is still a backup to Zach Ertz. 

On the offensive line, it is possible that Andre Dillard will be an upgrade over Jason Peters — but the offensive line has not been an issue this year. The Eagles would be happy if they got the same play out of their offensive linemen next season they have this season, and the offense is still a mess. 

The main concern on offense both short-and-long term is, of course, at quarterback. 

Sunday was the full Carson Wentz experience. He made some great plays that will make the highlights, he missed some easy throws he should have made, he dealt with some drops, and ultimately, his team lost. 

Yes, the defense struggled, but the offense did nothing to help them, scoring zero points in the 22 minutes between their touchdown to start the third quarter and the field goal at the very end of the game. Take away the gift-of-a-touchdown the defense handed the offense to start the game, and Wentz took the offense down the field for touchdowns on two of the other nine drives. 

That kind of output is unacceptable any week, but it is definitely unacceptable against a defense that was dead-last in the NFL in points allowed this season. Yes, 31 should be enough points to win most weeks, but it wasn’t on Sunday — and it isn’t an outrageous request to ask the franchise quarterback to help stop the bleeding in the third quarter by leading his offense down the field for a score. 

Instead, the same issues that plagued Wentz this season plagued him on Sunday, as he missed open throws, didn’t see open receivers and couldn’t move the offense. None of those things are new — they have been issues for close to two full seasons now. Wentz is a hard worker, and can still make some special plays occasionally, but his inability to throw a consistently accurate ball has prevented this offense from being a special unit. Instead, it has been like the quarterback — a few nice plays here-and-there, but overall just not good enough. 

That last part should terrify the Eagles. If Wentz isn’t what the team expected him to be, it is hard to find much reason to be optimistic about the future. Who on this team can the front office honestly look at and say they know will be an elite-level player in two seasons? Is there really a single one? Maybe Derek Barnett, maybe Miles Sanders, maybe Lane Johnson or Brandon Brooks — but none, like Wentz, are a sure thing. 

It isn’t random drops or short-term issues keeping the Eagles in the funk they are in. Stumbling into the playoffs, which is still possible, won’t change it either. 

To change it, the Eagles will need a complete overhaul of the roster with young elite talent, or for their franchise quarterback to live up to expectations. 

The way things look right now, it is hard to feel optimistic about either thing happening. 

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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