Four weeks of the NFL season have come and went. The Eagles, while in first place, haven’t looked so hot. With only one win on their resume, albeit against the reigning NFC Champions, the Eagles will need to rattle off some big wins if they want to stay in the race for the playoffs going forward. This past week against San Francisco left us with some important questions going forward. Let’s dive in and see what the FPC Eagles team thinks going forward.
How impressed were you with Jordan Mailata’s performance last Sunday?
Trevor Woodworth: This past Sunday, Mailata made his first NFL start. I was nervous about how he would hold up. His play was dominant from start to finish. He made me look foolish for even worrying about how he’d hold up. Mailata looked like a seasoned vet out there, and I couldn’t be happier for him. The writing has been on the wall for Jason Peters for a couple of years now. How great would it be to have two reliable replacement options? To put it simply, Jordan Mailata shocked me with his performance on Sunday.
Chris Boughman: The Big man finally made his first career start! Former Rugby player Jordan Mailata made his long-awaited debut and held his own at left tackle. I thought Mailata did very well. Outside of a false start penalty, he hung in there and made his presence felt in a big way. He was a man-beast out there pushing his opponents with ease. He needs to work on some mechanics, but the time is now for the former Rugby star to shine. I’m excited to see him against an excellent team Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers. What a story this will be if Jordan Mailata turns into a consistent contributor as a starter in the NFL!
Evan Tonrey: Mailata exceeded my expectations. For a prototype lineman who began playing football just a few years ago, that was an excellent performance. While he had one brutal false start that killed a drive that would have ended in some points, Mailata was a force to be reckoned with out on that field. He held firm against one of the best defensive lines in football. Although they were hurt, Mailata still faced very talented NFL players and won most of his battles. With some proper tweaking, Mailata could find himself as a real back up to Dillard and maybe even more if his future remains bright.
Kyle Starrett: To be completely honest, I didn’t even notice him. For an o-lineman, that’s a good thing. Not once did I hear Mailata’s name called out, meaning he handled his business Sunday night. I watched one play and him only, and what I saw was him stonewall the defender. Out of all the o-linemen on our team, Mailata is the one I worry about most. I frequently call him “The Rugby Player” because he’s yet to prove himself to me as a football player. However, with more performances like what we saw Sunday, that could change relatively quickly.
How sustainable was the Eagles’ performance on Sunday?
Trevor: There’s something extraordinary about Philadelphia’s win last Sunday. There is nothing from that win that can’t be replicated going forward. We all know that Carson Wentz is capable of true greatness. We’ve seen this defensive line consistently get pressure on quarterbacks, and we’ve seen the Eagles win games with their backs against the wall. So when it’s asked if it’s sustainable going forward, I honestly can’t find a reason it wouldn’t be. While it’s true, the Eagles looked like a completely different team against San Francisco. Turnovers? I was starting to think we might not force any of those this year.
Chris: This is an interesting one to dissect. Sunday was a big win for the Eagles! You can say the 49ers are beat up and didn’t have their QB, but a win is a win! It doesn’t have to be pretty either. All you have to do is grind it out and get the W. That’s what the Eagles successfully achieved on Sunday night. They went into a challenging situation traveling across the country to play a game that NOBODY had them winning, and squeezed out the win. This win was huge for the Eagles. They finally got in the win column and secured 1st place in the NFC East.
Sustainability moving forward? I think this can catapult the Eagles in the right direction. In the short term, they have a tough few weeks in front of them with games against the Steelers and Ravens. However, who are the Pittsburgh Steelers? Are they the team that just beat up on their first three opponents who have a combined record of 1-11, or are they legitimate contenders in the AFC? I think they fall somewhere in between, so we’ll see them this week at Heinz Field.
The Eagles performance on Sunday wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a positive step in the right direction. The offense still struggled a bit, but Carson Wentz came up big in clutch situations to secure the victory. Defensively, I thought they played well. I was relieved to see the defensive finally get some turnovers and make things happen in crucial spots. The Linebacker group still scares me, as George Kittle erupted for 183 receiving yards on 15 catches. As the Eagles get healthy, they should improve. With the NFC East’s state, anything is possible, and an NFC Division title is an attainable task.
Evan: Philadelphia had a shaky game Sunday night, but it was enough to get the win. Carson Wentz played well, and I believe he will only get better from here. Sanders was quiet Sunday night, but he will get better as the offensive line learns to be with one another, and communication improves. The defense had its ups and downs. I think the linebacker core needs a rework in the offseason and will struggle the entire year. Darius Slay and others have proven they have what it takes to assemble an excellent secondary, and the fear of getting burned has gone away. I think the Eagles can only get better, and barring injuries, can sustain this performance level.
Kyle: As per usual, it all depends on Carson Wentz. We were blessed with a reliable Wentz performance Sunday night, which I credit as the reason we pulled off the upset. However, if he reverts to his early-season self, then no, that performance is in no way sustainable. The team lives or dies off the arm of Wentz. Howie and Co. paid him the big bucks, now Wentz has to step up and show why they did it.
The other key is the defense, which, as I mentioned in the first roundtable, I’ve never really seen play two good games back to back. They broke that trend with solid performances in both weeks 3 and 4, but how much longer can they keep it up? As the linebacker group is still a mess and the defensive backs are jam-packed with injuries, it’s hard to tell. If they can continue the roll their currently on, it should go a long way in helping the Eagles win ball games.
With two fumbles in five snaps, is it time for the Eagles to scrap the Hurts package?
Trevor: This question is an obvious no, but it still needed to be asked. Hurts ball handling has been a problem so far this year, but that means he fits right in with Wentz. Regardless of the fumbles so far, Hurts needs to see playing time, even if he’s just a decoy. The Eagles used a second-round pick on Jalen Hurts because they knew they could do some new things on offense with him. Let’s not overreact to his two fumbles so far.
Chris: I’ll start this off with a question: Carson Wentz has seven interceptions through 4 games. Are they going to replace him? No way. So, Jalen Hurts had two fumbles in 5 snaps. Do I think they should scrap the package entirely? Heck No! Doug needs to utilize his skill players in creative ways. They drafted Hurts in the second round. The kid needs to see the field in some capacity to get a return on their investment.
Am I hesitant in seeing Jalen Hurts take snaps considering the recent fumble problems? Absolutely. However, he doesn’t need to get snaps for him to see the field. There are many ways to utilize him on the gridiron. Of course, you could have him behind center, but Doug can put him anywhere on the field, and eyes will be drawn in that direction. Put Hurts in the backfield as an RB, split him out wide, or throw him in the slot. Doug needs to get creative with the Jalen Hurts package, and when Jalen Reagor gets back, you can rename the Hurts package to the Jalen package! That will be a ton of fun to see on the field!
Evan: Two fumbles on five snaps is terrible. I won’t lie. That is not acceptable at all for professional players who practice that formation weekly. However, the package should not and will not be scrapped. Roseman didn’t take a Taysom Hill type project player in the second round to kill the idea after five plays. Things take time. Rookie QB’s being used in a way he isn’t as familiar with. It’s all growing pains. Like the rest of the team, the package will get better with time, and once they have, it figured out it will be tons of fun to watch.
Kyle: No. No, no, no. Hurts has a skillset, one that’s not suitable for the starting quarterback role but that, when properly utilized, make him an absolute weapon on the offense. He’s a rookie QB who came into the league during the weirdest offseason in NFL history. With no OTA’s and a redesigned training camp, it’s clear that he’s still adjusting to the professional level. Let’s give him some time to marinate before we call it quits on him.
On another note, I think Doug Pederson could do a better job designing plays for Hurts. Running the ball may be Hurts’ strong suit, but some more creativity would be excellent. Pederson attempted a throwback pass with Wentz and Hurts against the 49ers, which was unfortunately snuffed out. Although the play didn’t work as planned, more plays like that would be warmly welcomed.
Going forward, how can the Eagles turn their season around?
Trevor: If Philadelphia wants to continue to turn their season around, Sunday’s performance will have to become more consistent. What exactly does that mean? Well, for starters, Carson has to continue to play within himself. We need confident Carson to be on that field every week. He’s going to make mistakes, but we can live with those. He believes in himself more than anyone else, and that’s one of the things that makes him so special.
The defensive line will also have to continue to assert their dominance. They are currently leading the league in sacks, with 17. This is fantastic news, seeing as Howie has put a lot of money into that skill group. After a rough start to the year, the Eagles secondary has caught their breath. Darius Slay is having arguably his best season to date, through 4 games. With Slay following the best weapon, it eases the Eagles younger players’ burden in the secondary.
Last, but certainly not least, HEALTH. The Eagles have to find a way to start staying healthy. We cannot afford to keep losing so many starters every week. It feels statistically impossible to continue losing players at the rate the Eagles have for multiple years now. DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey have to get back on the field as soon as possible. Carson Wentz needs a veteran presence he can trust out wide. If the Eagles can get and STAY healthy, maybe they can be the team we all thought they were coming into the season.
Chris: This is a straightforward question. WIN FOOTBALL GAMES! The Philadelphia Eagles have no more room for error. They need to beat the teams they’re supposed to on their schedule. They need to compete with the good football teams on their schedule (Steelers, Ravens, Seahawks, Packers, Saints) and probably steal at least two of those games. The bottom line, the Eagles need to play consistent football.
The key to the Eagles turnaround will be the trenches. The Eagles need to win the battle in the trenches, on both sides of the ball, for this team to be successful. The offensive line must give Carson Wentz time to create and execute the play. On defense, the defensive line must DOMINATE to help out the back end of the defense. Also, we need to see some of the Eagles players get healthy (Alshon Jeffery, Desean Jackson, Jason Peters, Jalen Reagor, Issac Seumalo) to compete at a high level. Finally, the leaders of this team need to contribute and play to their potential. If the leaders can’t step up, buy-in, and play with max effort, this season is toast (Much like Nate Gerry in coverage).
Carson Wentz – Be a leader, and Be smart with the football.
Miles Sanders – Keep doing what you’re doing, Kid.
Zach Ertz – I don’t like this current version of Zach Ertz. He seems to be having trouble separating from defenders. Ertz is either hiding an injury, or he’s genuinely not invested in winning games with this team. We’re seeing a huge drop-off in production this season, and I hope we see a big turn around from Ertz.
Jason Kelce – Be the anchor on the Offensive line. He needs to be the glue that keeps that group performing at a high level.
Fletcher Cox – Be dominant in the trenches, and carry the defense to success.
Brandon Graham – See Fletcher Cox Above
The leaders of the Philadelphia Eagles will do their part to carry this football team. However, Doug Peterson needs to be the ultimate leader of the team. If Doug can’t get the guys to buy into his vision as a football coach, the ship will sink faster than the Titanic. I feel Doug and the coaching staff have the support of their players, and there are bright moments in the Eagles immediate future. Fingers Crossed!
Evan: The Eagles have a very, very difficult schedule ahead of them. Turning this season around will rely mainly on staying healthy, but it would be up to Carson Wentz on the offense and Jim Schwartz on the defense. Those two guys are the only ones that can turn this season around. If Carson continues to stay mobile and loose, the offense will fire and be electric even with practice squad receivers. Jim Schwartz must coach phenomenally to give the Eagles a fighting chance in every game and keep his job. I genuinely believe that if Schwartz fails to get the defense rolling, he should be fired at season’s end. It will take a tremendous effort from all involved, but those two need to shape up if the Eagles want a chance of making the playoffs.
Kyle: Like I said during question number two, Wentz has to keep his level of play at the level it was Sunday night. Whether or not the team can rebound after an atrocious start depends almost entirely on Wentz’s play. However, I want to focus on another critical group that I haven’t discussed yet, the coaching staff. Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz have a lot of weight on their shoulders. We’re hitting the part of the season now where coaches are starting to lose their jobs for not performing. Although neither are truly on the chopping block, how the team responds to the slow start is primarily on them. They have to make the necessary changes to turn the team around—the game against San Francisco was a great start, but it won’t be enough unless it can carry through week to week.
Either way you slice it, it’s make or break time for the Eagles. At the end of the day, a lot needs to change for the team to be successful, and we’ll see if they can make those necessary changes.