By Dylan MacKinnon
The Eagles enter the Bye Week at 6-7, which seems bad. But they are also just a half game out of the third wildcard spot, which is clearly a very good thing. They are benefiting from it being a weird year without many very good teams. But can they actually make the playoffs? Do they deserve too? What have they done well, and what are they doing poorly? Here are 5 numbers that tell the story of why they find themselves in the situation they are in.
The Eagles Run Block Win Rate, per ESPN Stats and info, is 74%. If I was going to give MVP out for the Eagles season so far, it would collectively go to their offensive line. 74% is 3rd in the NFL. And that is despite all the injury issues they had early. Lane Johnson who is among the highest performing o linemen in the NFL missed a couple games to better his mental health. Jordan Mailata dealt with a injury early. Jason Kelce has been the only steady figure in the o line. But still they have dominated, especially in the run game. Their ability to run block is the major reason they find themselves still in the playoff race. By the way, they are 6th in pass block win rate at 66%. Jordan Mailata by the way hasn’t allowed a sack or QB hit since week 7.
Jalen Hurts has played in 12 games this season. In half of them, he has finished with a completion rate under 60%. He is 28th out off 33 qualified QBS in completion percentage. His inaccuracy is one of his biggest issues, and it has at time hurt the team. Now he has certainly helped the team at times too, especially with his legs. But they need consistency out of him. Accuracy is an issue you can fix, but it does have to be fixed. Too many balls have fallen short, or sailed, and that is a recipe for a disaster. If he could be a 65% completion rate type of QB, he could be good enough to win with. But until he makes that jump, its tough to trust him game to game, half to half, or even play to play. Consistency is key. But right now, he lacks it.
Darius Slay is not just a pro bowler, he is worthy of All Pro Status. And not just because he has been a playmaker this year with 3 TDs. But because he has completely dominated in coverage. In single coverage this year, he has allowed a passer rating of just 2.8. That’s the best number in the NFL among all cornerbacks. He has allowed only 4 catches in single coverage. His PFF grade, for what it is worth, is 1st among all corners. He has been a force for the Eagles, and has helped carry a mediocre Eagles defense. If it wasn’t for him, things might be very different.
Darius Slay in single coverage:— PFF (@PFF) December 7, 2021
🔒89.1 PFF Grade (1st)
🔒4 catches allowed
🔒2.8 Passer Rating Allowed (1st) pic.twitter.com/3HUZItJITw
Jalen Reagor has been a major disappointment this season, even by the low expectations people had for him. And while it is popular to compare him too Justin Jefferson, I think only comparing him to Jefferson lets him off the hook. Because you can compare him to almost any WR taken in that draft and he comes away poorly. There are 14 players taken after him with more receiving yards. 15 with more touchdowns. There are guys who were taken in the 6th round of the same draft out producing him. And this season he is getting worse. Jalen Hurts literally performs worse when targeting him. Eagles need another option in the receiving game. Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert are great, but two options is not enough. Reagor is hurting the team and a replacement player, any replacement player, would make the Eagles a better team. Its time to let Greg Ward Jr take his snaps. And him out snapping Smith in the last game is an embarrassment for Sirianni.
The Eagles are now running the ball on 52.1% of their plays. That’s the highest rate in the NFL. And that is despite them being the polar opposite in the first several games of the year before they got to their Lions game. The question is, can a team win this way? Since 2011, only one team has won a Super Bowl while being in the top 10 in run ratio. The was the Seahawks in 2014. In that time, 6 teams have won while being in the bottom 12 of the NFL in rush attempts. The modern NFL is a passing league. Could the Eagles change that? Maybe, but other teams, see the Ravens, have tired and failed. it can have success in the regular season, but many of these run heavy teams fall short in the playoffs. Eagles have to decide if this is a viable way to build a team. I am not saying it isn’t. I am only pointing out recent history is against it.