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No Rhythm, No Rhyme For Eagles' Offense

Posted Sep 17, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It is already a theme two weeks into the season: The Eagles need help in the running game. They haven’t had much of one in two games this season, got almost nothing going on Sunday in a 27-20 loss to Kansas City, and the lack of a ground game is dragging down the entire offense ...

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It is already a theme two weeks into the season: The Eagles need help in the running game. They haven’t had much of one in two games this season, got almost nothing going on Sunday in a 27-20 loss to Kansas City, and the lack of a ground game is dragging down the entire offense.

There is no rhythm in this offense through two games. The Eagles are relying on quarterback Carson Wentz to carry the load and he just wasn’t able to do it against a very good Chiefs defense. Wentz completed 25-of-46 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns, but also had three passes deflected at the line of scrimmage and the interception he threw in the fourth quarter trying to get a pass to Darren Sproles on a screen play was converted into a Chiefs touchdown as Kansas City took the lead for good.

Through two games, the Eagles haven’t come to any kind of rotation in the backfield. LeGarrette Blount, signed in the offseason, carried 14 times for 46 yards at Washington, and then slid to the back of the three-man running back committee on Sunday with zero touches in the running game and one reception. Darren Sproles was the main factor in the backfield, and he had 10 carries for 48 yards.

The running backs contributed 52 ground yards at Washington and only 52 on Sunday.

“It’s just how the game went,” Blount said, surrounded by reporters in the locker room after the loss. “That wasn’t the game plan going in, but the game wasn’t going the way we wanted it to, so we had to make some changes.

“We’ve just got to ride the wave, man. When you’re number’s called, your number’s called.”

So without a running game to set anything up, the Eagles are throwing the ball more than they want. And Wentz is under pressure far more than desired. He was sacked six times on Sunday and hit another handful of times. Wentz has done a magnificent job of evading pressure, but the point is that there is too much of it and Wentz needs a pocket.

The Eagles weren’t able to take advantage of the absence of Kansas City safety Eric Berry. The offensive line did not play with consistency and left guard Isaac Seumalo was critical of himself after the game.

Kansas City was able to generate pressure with its base pass rush and then mixed in blitzes that were effective.

“Give credit to them, but I know I need to be better all the way around,” Seumalo said. “I've got to play better, no doubt about it. That’s kind of where I started. That’s all I focused on.”

The Eagles tried to counter with some screens and a short-passing game, but neither had much impact. The screen game has not been nearly as productive as the team wants or needs. The down-the-field passing game was non-existent on Sunday, save for a pass that deflected off cornerback Terrance Mitchell into the hands of tight end Zach Ertz, who gained 53 yards on a catch-and-run.

Where is the offense? What can the Eagles do to get things going, especially with a very good Giants defense coming to town on Sunday followed by a trip to Los Angeles to play the Chargers.

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The offense needs to step up.

“Pretty much they played man on a man, so it’s hard to say what else happened,” right tackle Lane Johnson said. “It’s tough. We needed to run the ball better, execute better. We could have won this game. The Chiefs are a good football team, but we were right there with them. We’ve got to get our offense functioning on all cylinders.

“We’re not proud of this. But we’re going to get it fixed. We have the right guys out there, good guys. We just aren’t executing like we know we can. To win games in this league you have to be able to run the ball and we’re not doing it well enough right now.”

The Eagles face an interesting early-season moment for an offense that seemingly added big-time playmakers in the offseason to get over the hump. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, who had seven catches for 92 yards and a score, and Torrey Smith, who had four catches and 66 yards and nearly had a back-shoulder catch for a touchdown on the Eagles’ first offensive possession, have been fine. Nelson Agholor has been good in the slot. Mack Hollins showed up on Sunday with three catches for 32 yards. The numbers say the Eagles are doing pretty well on offense. Geez, they gained 406 total net yards and converted 8-of-15 third downs on Sunday. So there were some good things, Wentz once again among them.

And then you scan down the statistics sheet and pause at the running game: 13 carries and 52 yards for Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. No touches for Blount. Wentz scrambled because he had to and gained 55 yards on four rushes.

An offensive line with high expectations has not yet clicked, and the offense is suffering for it both in the run game and in the screen game, which has so much potential with Sproles in the open field.

The offense needs some tweaking, then. A little early-season fine tuning. It’s a big week ahead for the offense, for the Eagles. They had the Chiefs all tied up 13-13 early in the fourth quarter. Unlike the week before, when Philadelphia outscored Washington 11-0 to win the final stanza, the Eagles went the other way this time and Kansas City took over the game.

These are the kinds of games the Eagles lost last year – on the road in one-score outcomes. These are the kinds of games the Eagles need to learn to win on a consistent basis to take the next step forward as a team.

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