Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Things They Must Do To Turn the Season Around
They were coined the "Dream Team” before the season started after adding four former Pro Bowlers in free agency and trading for another. They were the talk of the NFL, the sexy pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The organization said they were “all in” this season and it was immediately billed as a Super Bowl or bust year. Experts were handing the Eagles 11 or 12 wins and another NFC East title.
But after an opening day win in St. Louis, the team has lost four straight games, three of which they held the lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Yet, sitting at 1-4, the Eagles actually are still alive in the weak NFC East. In any other division, the Eagles would have no shot of finishing atop the division. Philly travels to the division leading Redskins (3-1) and a win combined with a Giants loss to Buffalo would bring the Eagles to within one and a half games of the division lead.
Here are five keys for the Eagles if they want to turn around this disastrous start.
Stop Giving the Ball Away and Create More Turnovers
The Eagles lead the league with 15 giveaways, including five last week against Buffalo, and they are minus 10 in turnover differential, also worst in the league. Michael Vick already has thrown seven interceptions, compared to just six in 12 games last season. There is no way the Eagles will continue to turn the ball over at this pace but they need to protect the ball. The Eagles have committed costly turnovers late in the fourth quarter in back-to-back games and that must stop if Philly wants to get back into contention.
The Eagles defense has only created five turnovers, second worst in the NFC. They must make more plays and give the Eagles explosive offense the ball back.
Protect Michael Vick
Vick has been under intense pressure on too many of his drop backs and has already been knocked out of two games. Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg need to make protecting Vick a priority. The offensive line is starting two rookies in Jason Kelce at center and first-round pick Danny Watkins at right guard, which has led to some protection issues. Those guys are still learning and they need extra help.
Reid and Mornhinweg need to utilize more three-step drops while also leaving seven or even eight guys into block. This will allow Vick to sit back in the pocket with time to find an open receiver.
Cut Down on Missed Tackles
This is self-explanatory. The Eagles missed 13 tackles against the Bills and that can't happen if you want to win football games. Players were in position to make plays but didn't make the tackle. Safety Jarrad Page was benched in the fourth quarter after missing three or four tackles and if others continue to miss tackles, they must sit on the bench.
Improve Red-Zone Efficieny on Both Sides of the Ball
Over the last five years, the Eagles offense has had issues in the red zone and this year is no different. The offense has converted 41.67 percent of their opportunities into touchdowns, good for 23rd in the league. This killed the Eagles in Week 3 against New York when the Eagles could not punch it in from the 1-yard line and again against San Francisco the following week.
The defense is even worse, allowing teams to score a touchdown on 78.57 percent of their possessions in the red zone, dead last in the NFL.
This needs to change immediately on both sides of the ball.
Stop the Run for God's Sake
The Eagles defense has not been able to stop the run at all this season. The new "wide-nine" technique, which has the defensive ends line up outside the tackles, has garnered much criticism because it leaves the middle of the field open. The "wide-nine" puts pressure on the linebackers to get off blocks and find the ball, but the young Eagles linebackers have not been able to make plays in the run game. The rush defense is ranked 30th and is allowing five yards per carry.
The defense has got to find a way to stop the run, whether it's scheme, players or execution, they must figure it out now.