Philadelphia Eagles Week 3 Overview
The Eagles are coming off their first win in 2015 and I feel much better than I did a week ago. I didn’t expect a huge offensive explosion against the Jets, and I don’t think Chip Kelly did either. The game plan seemed to be a methodical one, which is strange to see from Chip Kelly. The narrative on Chip is he runs things his way and refuses to adjust. The game against New York on Sunday was the ultimate rebuttal to that argument as the Eagles moved at the slowest pace I remember seeing under Chip Kelly. After the Eagles defense was on the field for over 40 minutes against the Cowboys Chip realized he needed to change some things, and he did. It just feels good to have a win in our back pocket the day after an Eagles game. It’s been too long.
Some things I think:
DeMarco Murray is still the staring running back.
Ryan Mathews ran the ball really, really well against the Jets. The offensive line played its best game since the start of the season, which isn’t saying much. There are some that feel Mathews is a better fit than Murray. I’m not sure how this assessment was made seeing how bad the offensive line blocked in the first two games. DeMarco Murray is an absolute stud, he may take some time to adjust to running in shotgun majority of the time, but don’t discredit his talent.
I think Ryan Mathews is a really good running back as well, but there’s a reason Murray got a $40 million dollar contract in the offseason. The Eagles want to feed him. If you don’t think contracts impact a players playing time, someone explain why Riley Cooper still sees the field. It isn’t because he can block.
Sam Bradford worries me:
The biggest misconception through the first three weeks of the season is because the offensive line has struggled in the run game, it has struggled in pass protection as well. No, it hasn’t, it has actually been pretty darn good in that regard. Sam Bradford has plenty of time to drop back, set his feet and deliver in a nice pocket. He’s just failed to do anything special with it. I get it, being away from not just the game, but film study, and game preparation for two years can make a quarterback rusty. Sam Bradford is still adjusting to what defenses are doing to him. But man, has he been underwhelming.
The preseason game against Green Bay really sent my expectations through the roof with bradford. He was accurate, decisive and threw the ball with confidence. Since the regular season began, it seems Bradford is locking into his first option, throwing inaccurate balls and can’t seem to get into rhythm. It’s still early, but if this offense and team as a whole is going to take the next step, Sam Bradford is the biggest factor.
Nelson Agholor is the real deal:
Through three games, Nelson Agholor has 4 catches for 12 yards. Statistically, that is unimpressive, especially for a 1st round draft pick. I know it’s easy to judge a player by stats, but for a receiver in the situation that Agholor is in, don’t. Sam Bradford is still adjusting to the system, and you can tell that the connection simply isn’t there between Agholor and Bradford. But you can’t judge a rookie by stats. Agholor has faced Desmond Trufant and Darrelle Revis in two of his first three games and yet I’ve still seen him create separation and get open. Watching Agholor run routes is really impressive. His lack of stats are more on the QB play and lack of offensive output, than lack of talent. Agholor is a special player and I expect him to play well by season’s end.
Walter Thurmond and Malcolm Jenkins are the MVP’s so far this season:
The thinnest position across the entire league is the safety position. There are just a handful of good safeties and the Eagles have two very quality starters. Jenkins and Thurmond have played lights out this season and a lot of it has to do with their playing style being a perfect match for the scheme. Jenkins and Thurmond aren’t the best in run support, but when you have a front seven like the Eagles do, you don’t need Kam Chancellor’s in your secondary. The Eagles can stay in their base defense and have Jenkins slide down to defend the slot receiver while Thurmond is a single high safety, or vice versa. In a passing league, having two safeties that can cover is a huge advantage for the Eagles. In the preseason, I predicted Walter Thurmond would lead the team in interceptions. I stand by this prediction.
Byron Maxwell will never live up to his contract:
If Byron Maxwell ends this season with six interceptions, fans still won’t be thrilled about the contract given to him. The $63 million dollar contract Maxwell received in the offseason was huge. The fact of the matter is, no matter what, he won’t play to that level of money. Good cornerbacks are hard to come by in this league and when one hits the free agent market, you have to hand a blank check to the player’s agent. That’s what the Eagles did in the offseason.
The Eagles opening up against the best receiver in the league in Julio Jones caused an overreaction from fans. Maxwell struggled, and so has everyone else that’s played against Julio. Let me say there is one cornerback in the NFL that can maybe, just maybe contain Julio Jones. That’s Darelle Revis. I think fans, including myself, saw the contract given to Maxwell and expected him to be a shut down cornerback. In reality, Maxwell is a good cornerback, but shut down? Probably not. I still have a ton of confidence in him being the Eagles’ number one corner and have no issues with his play so far.
Although, I doubted it a few times after a long first two weeks of the season, my standpoint hasn’t changed; I think this team can and will be really good. The defense has been playing really good football, and the offense is slowly, but surely coming together. Sam Bradford’s play will ultimately decide whether or not this team can compete for a championship.