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A To-Do List For Offensive Success

Posted Jan 5, 2018

More offense? Yes, the Eagles need it when the playoffs begin next Saturday and they need it from all 11 players on the field and from the coaching staff calling the plays and making adjustments to the game plan. Here is a to-do list for the Eagles to get the offense where it needs to be to win in the postseason …

More offense? Yes, the Eagles need it when the playoffs begin next Saturday and they need it from all 11 players on the field and from the coaching staff calling the plays and making adjustments to the game plan. Here is a to-do list for the Eagles to get the offense where it needs to be to win in the postseason.

Start Fast And Finish Strong

Fostering a positive environment at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday will be of utmost importance, so the Eagles need a fast start. And it’s not just the offense needed here. The defense must get off the field. Special teams has to win field position. Keep the crowd’s energy high, higher, highest. Make the Linc rock. Play with great emotion.

It started off well enough a couple of weeks ago against Oakland when the Eagles scored a touchdown on their second possession, and the offense just did not sustain the momentum. The defense did its part and the special teams, save a missed Jake Elliott 33-yard field goal attempt at the end of the half, played well. The offense did not. Which leads to …

Cut Down On Self-Inflicted Wounds

In that Oakland game, which came after the Eagles lit up the Giants for 34 points in Foles’ first start replacing Carson Wentz, the Eagles made a ridiculous amount of mistakes offensively. They had a total of 48 snaps on first and second down, and in those snaps they committed five penalties and turned the football over twice.

Last Sunday against Dallas, the Eagles moved the football into Cowboys territory on their first possession and then wide receiver Torrey Smith couldn’t hang on to a Foles pass on a third-and-7 situation. Had he caught the football, the Eagles would have been deep in Dallas territory, at the very worst. As it turned out, the drop forced a fourth-and-7 throw that Foles, under pressure, couldn’t complete to Smith.

These are the kinds of things that are haunting the Eagles offensively the last two weeks. And let’s remember, it’s really only been the Oakland game and the first quarter of the Dallas game. So it is far from time to panic. But after seeing how easily points came when Wentz played, it’s time to correct things before it’s too late.

It would sure help if the Eagles could ...

Establish The Running Game

Starting with that Giants game, the running attack hasn’t been as prolific as it had been much of the season when the Eagles ranked among the top 2-3 teams in the league. The Eagles gained 108 yards on 27 carries in the win over New York. They had just 21 carries and 78 yards in the Oakland game. On the first drive against the Cowboys, the Eagles had a couple of plus runs, but after that penalties and mistakes marred the running game the rest of the first quarter.

You generally expect that defenses are going to stack the box with eight men and play man coverage on the outside and challenge Foles and his receivers to win in the passing game. You might see an extra offensive lineman, as the Eagles have used in the past. Maybe the Eagles overload their line. The Eagles must win there, or it’s going to be tough to back off defenses and create running lanes.

With a strong and very good offensive line and a rested and expected-to-be-the-workhorse Jay Ajayi in the backfield, the Eagles are well equipped to run the football. It’s just tough to do it when defenses are playing downhill. The offense must gash defenses in the passing game. That brings up an extremely important challenge …

Find A Comfort Zone For QB Nick Foles

The quarterback has to be on his game, right? Foles said this week that feels he’s in a good place after some excellent work in practice and that’s encouraging. The Eagles need to get Foles into a situation where he knows where to go with the football and he throws in rhythm. The idea of going with a no-huddle offense has been much discussed in the media. Maybe the Eagles mix in some of that. Maybe they get very specific with Foles on where to go with the ball. Maybe it’s a lot of three-step-drop throws. Anything is possible.

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The Foles who came out slinging in Los Angeles and then at the Giants is the Foles the Eagles need to see. The entire offense struggled against Oakland, as mentioned above, with the penalties and the giveaways. That stuff can’t happen in the postseason. Coaching, and finding weaknesses in the defense, are so important. Which brings up the idea of …

Creating Favorable Matchups And Exploiting Them

If there is balance and if the Eagles are keeping drives alive, it means they are using all of their weapons. Advance scouting is so important here. Can the Eagles, for example, match up Nelson Agholor on a team’s third cornerback and feel good about that one-on-one? Who is going to cover tight end Zach Ertz? Is the screen game a viable option? Is there a way to get Alshon Jeffery on a smaller cornerback?

Whether it’s in the running game – will the Eagles have an advantage running behind the Pro Bowl right side of the offensive line? – or in the passing game, the Eagles need to win the X’s and O’s game. That means the scouting department and the coaching staff have to win. They have to be on the same page and they have to beat the opposing sideline.

And, of course, they must ...

Play With Confidence

Expect an offensive game plan and an approach that is very confident and powerful. The Eagles know they have to win the battle of physical football and they have to play with absolute confidence. You might see head coach Doug Pederson go for it in unconventional ways. He’s had a great pulse on things – when to go for it on fourth down and when to play field position – and that needs to continue.

The Eagles must dictate to defenses that think they can attack the line of scrimmage and win. Big plays that gash the defense take away from the effectiveness of the run blitzes and the stacked boxes and the man-to-man press coverage in the passing game. Foles has to throw the ball into positions to give his receivers a chance to make plays. Nobody is coming wide, wide, wide open in the playoffs. The windows are very small.

This is going to be just as mental as it is physical next week. The Eagles have the pieces to have success offensively. They need to put them all together to win.

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