The Eagles can still make the playoffs. Blah, blah, blah.
No team can lose to the Dolphins and think about a legitimate title run. There has to be wholesale (read: drastic) changes next season. In the meantime, there are a few minor tweaks the organization can look at. Immediacy is the key word.
The Eagles have pass-catchers who can’t catch. They have tight ends who can’t hold onto the football. And a quarterback who still seems shell-shocked from a myriad of season-ending injuries. That’s just on offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, they have cornerbacks who can’t cover and linebackers who can’t tackle. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham may be the only two players exempt from blame in this disappointing season.
Top 5 Ways to Save Eagles Tragic Season
Run the Ball. Feed Miles Sanders.
It looks like Jordan Howard’s enigmatic “stinger” isn’t healing anytime soon. In fact, there are reports that the injury may be related to an AC joint and could require shoulder surgery in the offseason. That means more carries for new bellcow Miles Sanders.
The rookie running back has been one of the lone bright spots for the Eagles. He carried 17 times for 83 yards versus Miami and has accumulated 1,193 all-purpose yards. He should be getting the ball at least 25 times a game, in a variety of ways.
Fire Mike Groh. Let Duce Staley Call Plays.
Head coach Doug Pederson said he wasn’t going to make any in-season changes to his coaching staff. He needs to, just to shake things up and send a message. Is offensive coordinator Mike Groh the whole problem? No. But sometimes there has to be a fall guy (see: Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator in 2012).
Duce Staley owns the title of “Associate Head Coach/Running Backs Coach” yet no one seems to know what he does. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is the run-game coordinator and Groh is the pass-game coordinator. Pederson has been fond of relying on his assistants to put the gameplan together, so let’s see what Staley can do with it.
Bench Ronald Darby. Start Cre’Von LeBlanc.
Ronald Darby has been shaky all year — minus four decent games versus teams with bad vertical attacks (Buffalo, Chicago, New England, Seattle). When matched up against a stud receiver — yes, Miami’s DeVante Parker is a stud — Darby was exposed. None worse than on a crucial 4th-and-4 where he got beat for a 43-yard touchdown. Parker made several highlight-reel plays.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s passer rating was 109.7 against him. Throw Cre’Von LeBlanc into the fire and see what he can do. The fourth-year corner flashed big-play ability last season and the Eagles need a spark. The team should stick with Jalen Mills, for stability’s sake. For now. But if he continues to struggle, then Rasul Douglas is next man up.
Switch to No-Huddle. Turn Carson Wentz Loose.
No, not the Chip Kelly offense. That never needs to come back. However, Carson Wentz needs to take on a bigger role in calling plays at the line of scrimmage. Let the quarterback break the huddle and diagnose match-up problems on the fly, without ticking the play clock all the way down. This is a tactic that Eli Manning made famous when the Giants were winning Super Bowls.
Don’t overthink it. On to the next play. The coaching staff needs to take the training wheels off Wentz. He is at his best when he’s scrambling outside the pocket and making throws on the run anyway. Wentz isn’t a pocket passer and shouldn’t be treated like one.
Switch Up the Receivers. It’s Long Overdue.
We can go back and forth all day about the receivers the Eagles should have signed or traded for, guys like Josh Gordon and Emmanuel Sanders and even Deon Cain and Dontrelle Inman. It’s over. They didn’t make any moves.
However, they did bring in Marken Michel for a tryout and continue to give Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside more snaps. Let’s see what Michel can do. Promote Robert Davis from the practice squad, too.
The Eagles need to slowly phase out the old-timers (and locker-room cancers) like Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. It’s a simple matter of addition by subtraction. Look no further than across the state in Pittsburgh where the Steelers are making an unexpected playoff run with James Washington and Diontae Johnson catching passes. Meanwhile, Antonio Brown remains unemployed.
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