We’re not even halfway through the second month of the NFL season and the defending Super Bowl Champs already find themselves in what might be a must-win game. The Eagles, sitting at 2-3, head into the Meadowlands for a Thursday night tilt with the Giants in need of a win to keep up with the NFC’s top teams. A loss to New York would leave the division title as the team’s only realistic path to the playoffs.
Some have chalked up the Eagles’ early-season struggles to the dreaded Super Bowl Hangover. Others have pointed to an underperforming offensive line and a weak secondary as the team’s biggest issues. But the secondary wasn’t very good in 2017, and there were plenty of question marks along the line before that Super Bowl run.
So what’s really wrong with these Eagles? We’ve come up with the three biggest reasons the Super Bowl champs are struggling in 2018…
1. Bad injury luck
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Injuries just keep piling up for the Eagles, which is a problem for a team that lacks depth outside of the defensive line. Unfortunately, that’s where Philadelphia has been hit hardest by injuries. Timmy Jernigan hasn’t played in 2018 after undergoing offseason surgery. Derek Barnett and Haloti Ngata both missed the Minnesota game, forcing Fletcher Cox, Michael Bennett and something called a Destiny Vaeao to play a lot of snaps on Sunday. Being able to constantly rotate pass rushers in and out of the lineup is what made the pass rush so effective in 2017. Injuries have made that difficult to do in 2018.
There have been key injuries elsewhere, too. Rodney McLeod’s season-ending injury has left the team desperate for a free safety, a key position in Jim Schwartz defense, which heavily favors single-high safety coverages. On offense, the Eagles have no receiver who can threaten a defense with downfield speed. Mike Wallace was supposed to be that guy, but he was placed on IR after Week 2. Mack Hollins can play that role but he’s stuck on IR with Wallace. Jay Ajayi’s season ended after he suffered a torn ACL in the loss to the Vikings. Both starting offensive tackles, Jason Peters and Lane Johnson, have been dealing with knocks. Johnson has already given up more sacks this season than he did in all of 2017.
And, oh yeah, the franchise quarterback missed the first two games and is coming off a torn ACL.
Every team deals with injuries, but these injuries have directly impacted the Eagles’ ability to do the things that made them so good in 2018: Dominate in the trenches (on both sides of the ball) and hit on explosive plays in passing game.
2. Statistical regression
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