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A Little Early to Panic About the Eagles

A Little Early to Panic About the Eagles
One loss and the Eagles fans are in a major panic. Sure, there wasn’t a lot to like about Sunday’s 27-21 loss at Tampa Bay, but a few things have to be remembered.
The biggest is that the Eagles should still sleepwalk to the playoffs because the NFC East is really down. The Giants are 0-2 and their offensive line remains a major problem. The Dallas Cowboys (1-1) and Washington Redskins (1-1) look like they will have trouble scoring against even mediocre defenses.
That said, one reason the Eagles were Super Bowl champs last season is because they earned home field advantage. If they aren’t as dominant and don’t earn the home field advantage, that could be a factor.
No doubt the Eagles should get a major boost from the return of Carson Wentz at QB. Wentz has made a remarkable recovery from tearing his left ACL and LCL on Dec. 10 against the Los Angeles Rams.
Of course as much optimism as there is with Wentz returning, one must be reminded that he doesn’t play defense. And against the Bucs, the Eagles were burned for two 75-yard scoring passes to former Eagle DeSean Jackson and tight end O.J. Howard.
Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 27 of 33 for 402 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. The Eagles happened to face the journeyman quarterback in the best opening stretch of his career, a second straight game of throwing for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns.
Even with Wentz back, the Eagles need more playmakers, especially at receiver. Mike Wallace, who had been ineffective, suffered a broken fibula. Even more concerning from an Eagles standpoint, is that Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles top receiving threat remains out following offseason rotator cuff surgery. Jeffery courageously played all last season with an injured shoulder and had a huge touchdown in the Super Bowl. The Eagles wouldn’t have been Super Bowl champs without him and they miss his big-play ability, especially in the red zone.
Right now Nelson Agholor is the top receiving threat and while he is vastly improved, Agholor is more suited to be a No. 2 or even No. 3 receiver.
Zach Ertz remains among the top tight ends in the NFL and look for him to have an even bigger role in the offense with Wentz’s return and the receiving corps depleted.
The Eagles have to be concerned about the health of future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters. He was dominant in the opening win over Atlanta, returning from a torn ACL and MCL last year.
Peters left the Tampa game in the first quarter with a quadriceps injury and there is a steep drop-off when his replacement Halapoulivaati Vaitai is in the game.
At 36, the health of Peters has to be monitored closely. As he showed against Atlanta, when on the field, he remains among the elite tackles in the NFL.
Darren Sproles (hamstring) also missed the Tampa Bay game and the Eagles missed his big-play ability.
Running back Jay Ajayi has proven to be a strong weapon, but his durability is always a concern. He missed a good portion of the game on Sunday while being treated for a back injury.
The Eagles have to hope that the game was an aberration for the defense. The unit looked so strong in the opening week against a potential future Hall of Famer Matt Ryan. Against Fitzpatrick, they had no answers.
With only 16 regular season games, any loss or win is scrutinized so closely in the NFL. It was surely a bad loss to a Tampa Bay team that doesn’t figure to continue playing at this level, but the Eagles still look like one of the top teams in the NFL.

 

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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