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Big Question: Who Will Carry The Load In The Run Game?

Dave Spadaro: What’s going on is the Eagles are an inconsistent, 2-3 football team, very similar to most of the NFL. Last year’s nine-game winning streak, all of those points scored, the big wins ... a thing of the past. Glad you enjoyed it. That’s the kind of season that rarely comes along. What’s happening here is that the Eagles are riddled with injuries and self-inflicted mistakes. This team needs a spark. This team needs to find some confidence. A win tonight would be a nice start.

Fran Duffy: The Eagles are just struggling to be consistent right now. When one unit picks it up, another drops the ball. It’s been sloppy across the board. You can’t point at one player or one position group. Whether it’s bad tackling, lost contain or blown coverages on defense, or penalties, drops, and missed assignments on offense, it’s been a very up and down start. The good news is that all of it is fixable. They’re all things within the players' control. It’s just a matter of getting it right.

Chris McPherson: It's not just one thing. The offense ranks second in time of possession, but 18th in red zone and 23rd on third down. Execution in clutch situations is not there. Then there are the penalties. The Eagles have had 43 accepted penalties called against them. Only two teams have had more, ironically the 5-0 Chiefs are one of them.

In contrast to tonight's game, only two teams have had fewer accepted penalties than the Giants. Statistically, the defense is doing a lot of things right. However, a lack of turnovers – just five so far – and explosive plays (not so much the frequency, but the timing of them) have hurt the defense. And another thing on those takeaways, going back to the offense, they've resulted in just three TOTAL points.

Fran Duffy: I have to think Corey Clement will be the starter and I’m excited to see him in this role. You could have made a case for him as the MVP of Super Bowl LII in February. He’s the best third-down back on the roster. He’s physical between the tackles. If he can stay healthy, I think he can be productive for this team.

Dave Spadaro: This one is simple: Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood are going to get the majority of the touches in the running game for the present. Hopefully, they can stay healthy and stay on point with their assignments. Clement is a solid player, very responsible, and technically sound. I look for him to get 15-18 carries tonight.

Chris McPherson: It's been a meteoric rise for Clement who, I agree, will be the feature back moving forward. Wendell Smallwood has earned reps. I'm sure Josh Adams will get a few as well. But Clement is the most complete back here. I think Clement being the main guy could have been the plan a year from now, so the Eagles are getting a head start to see how he shoulders the load. Darren Sproles was used extensively in the season opener and hasn't played since after injuring his hamstring in practice leading up to the Tampa Bay game. It'll be nice to get him back in the mix from a pass game standpoint.

Chris McPherson: I put the slow starts on the defense. Five games. Defense started on field each time. They've given up 10 points, but easily could/should have been at least six more. Let's look at those drives.

  • Atlanta: 10 plays, 78 yards, turnover on downs at the goal line.
  • Tampa Bay: DeSean Jackson 75-yard touchdown.
  • Indianapolis: The one exception! A three-and-out followed by an Eagles opening drive touchdown.
  • Tennessee: Eight plays, 51 yards, Titans get a field goal.
  • Minnesota: 12 plays, 65 yards, missed field goal.

In the Atlanta case, the offense got bad field position. The momentum has been with the opponent in each game to start except Indianapolis.

Dave Spadaro: In 2017, the Eagles scored 105 points in the first quarters of games. This season, they’ve scored seven points. And that touchdown and extra point came against Indianapolis on quarterback Carson Wentz’s first drive of the season. The Eagles went with their "Turbo Tempo" offense and Wentz found an early rhythm. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit to see some of that no-huddle, pace offense tonight. The weather is a factor and the injuries are as well. Doug Pederson is evaluating the 15-play script. The whole process is under review. The Eagles can’t afford to continue to start so slowly offensively. It’s enormously taxing on everyone. What can they do? Find a go-to staple in the offense. They haven’t found one through five games. What does this team well offensively? Tight end Zach Ertz has been the focal point of the passing game. Maybe the Eagles can build something around him early on and open up the outside for some down-the-field shots.

Fran Duffy: It comes down to execution. Similar to the first question, different things have led to these slow starts. They may get things going and then the drive stalls. It comes down to execution and I believe a lot of the issues they’ve had are fixable.

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