by Jeb Kush
The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the most poorly run organizations in football. Flat out. Their problems run the gauntlet from top to bottom. The first and most obvious of these problems is that the Eagles are one of the least talented teams in the NFL, especially on offense. The Eagles are the only team in the NFL that does not have one single playmaker on offense. Even the pitiful Browns have Terrell Pryor. Nothing exemplifies this lack of playmaking ability more than the pass that fell incomplete that was intended for Jordan Matthews against the Giants on 4th down with the game on the line. Let’s examine this play for a moment.
It is 4th and 10 with 1:28 left in the game, the Eagles have no timeouts, and they are currently losing 23 to 28. Effectively, this play determines the outcome of the game. The 3 receivers who go out for a pass on this play are Dorial Green-Beckham (who has never caught 40 passes in a season), Nelson Agholor (who has also never caught 40 passes in a season), and Jordan Matthews who actually has turned into a serviceable NFL starter but has never done anything making him worthy of being called a “playmaker”.
Matthews has never had a 1,000 yard season, never caught more than 85 passes in a season, and has never caught double digit touchdowns in a season. Once the ball is snapped on this play the Giants blitz everyone with the exception of safety Landon Collins who is playing over the top, and the 3 defensive backs playing man coverage on the Eagles’ 3 receivers. This leaves all 3 receivers with one on one matchups that at least one of them must win in order to convert on this 4th down, and because none of them are playmakers none of them execute properly.
Green-Backham runs straight up-field into Janoris Jenkins, takes too long to get off the jam, and seems to demonstrate no discernable technique for fighting off the jam other than attempting to run straight through it. Even high school wide receivers would have tried a number of different and more effective techniques to break the jam.
On the other side of the field, Agholor runs a simple drag route at the line of scrimmage, literally ten yards short of the first down. This effectively takes him out of the play entirely. He may as well have not been on the field at all.
The intended receiver on the play, Jordan Matthews, executes so terribly that I legitimately am unsure of what he was running. Matthews lines up in the slot and appears to run either a corner route or a straight fade route, and whichever one he ran he executed so poorly that I question if he even wanted the ball to be thrown to him. The end result is that he runs kind of a half fade half corner route that he tries to catch over the wrong shoulder.
If he was running a fade then he should have expected the back-shoulder pass to his outside that it appears Wentz may have tried to throw because the defensive back covering him was running with him on his inside shoulder the entire time, was multiple yards ahead of Matthews until the very end of the play, and was not even playing the ball but instead staring directly at Matthews. If on the other hand Matthews had on option route where he could have run a corner route then he read the play wrong, did not drop his hips into the route to make any kind of break sharp enough to beat man coverage, and did not flip his hips or look over his outside shoulder at all. In short, if it was a corner route then it was actually the worst corner route I have ever seen. See here for yourself:
In sum, on this play with the game on the line, the Eagles had to rely on 3 wide receivers, the best of whom is merely a serviceable receiver, and all of them executed their routes poorly. This lack of execution and the play overall shows many of the other problems with the Eagles. Let’s start with the play calling and overall unimaginative nature of this offense. With the two best teams in the NFL competing in the Super Bowl right now (Falcons and Patriots) so much of what makes their offenses great is using a variety of different, creative formations and motion plays to create mismatches, as well as to confuse the defense. The Eagles do none of that, and did not do any of it on this play when the game was on the line.
On this play, the Eagles lined up in one of the most standard formations in the NFL today. They lined up in a simple shotgun with one running back, one tight end, and 3 receivers. No one was put in motion and the offense was not in hurry up. The Eagles simply lined up in a standard formation and hiked the ball which virtually guaranteed that no mismatches would be created and the defense would not be confused whatsoever.
The Eagles did this all despite the fact that they actually had mismatches on the field on this play. As you can see, the Giants only have 4 defensive backs to cover the 3 receivers previously mentioned, Zach Ertz, and Darren sproles. Zach Ertz’s athleticism and route-running ability is a mismatch on most linebackers. Darren Sproles’ acceleration and speed are also a mismatch for most linebackers. Yet, neither one of these guys were put in motion nor lined up in a position that would allowed them to go out for a pass.
Now, back to the Eagles’ total lack of talent and playmaking ability. This problem is rampant and runs all the way from scouts, to football operation executives, to Howie Roseman, to Jeffrey Laurie himself. The Eagles have very few skill position players (non-lineman) that would even start on any team that was remotely good. Rodney McLeod, Malcolm Jenkins, and Zach Ertz are the only skill position players who could start for NFL teams with a record of at least .500. This fact stands because the talent evaluators within the Eagles organization are themselves devoid of talent (there’s some irony if I’ve ever heard it). This is proven true by many Eagles castoffs flourishing in other circumstances.
Take a look at the Patriots for instance, a roster which contains former Eagles castoffs who have been instrumental to this latest Super Bowl run. Former Eagles wide receiver Danny Amendola will be starting at slot receiver and punt returner for the Patriots on Sunday. Another former Eagles castoff, corner Eric Rowe, will be starting at nickel corner for the Patriots this Sunday. Oh, and he had an interception in the AFC championship game to seal the win. Former Eagles safety Patrick Chung has been starting for the Patriots ever since the Eagles cut him, and will be starting for the Pats at strong safety this Sunday. Finally, former Eagles running back Dion Lewis will be starting at running back and kick returner during the Super Bowl. By the way, Dion Lewis scored 3 touchdowns in the Divisional round against the Texans and became the first player in post-season history to score a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown, and kick return touchdown in the same game. If Dion Lewis suddenly got traded to the Eagles today, he would instantly become their best offensive player, and the ONLY playmaker on their team.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, well how does this relate to owner Jeffrey Laurie? Here’s how: one major reason the Eagles are so devoid of talent is because Jeffrey Laurie got rid of plenty of good players simply because Chip Kelly didn’t get along with them, and the Eagles organization is so poorly run that years later those roster holes have still yet to be filled. Jeffrey Laurie gave away Jeremy Maclin, Lesean McCoy, and Desean Jackson for practically nothing.
Granted, Maclin and Jackson are not the same players they were in their prime in Philadelphia, but they are both still starting wide receivers. Lesean McCoy is still one of the best running backs in the NFL. If all 3 of these players were on the Eagle’s today they would all be starters. Instead, here the Eagles are years later still looking for two wide receivers and a running back. To put this all in perspective, imagine of Jason Garret went to Jerry Jones and said he wasn’t getting along with Dak, Zeke, and Dez so they should either cut them or trade them away. Jerry Jones would tell him to get the fuck out of his office. Instead, in this scenario, Eagles owner Jeffrey Laurie would trade or release them all for a couple of 7th round draft picks.