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It's Time For The Eagles To ...

  • Find out as much as they can about some of the younger players on this roster. Could they work second-round draft pick Jaiquawn Jarrett into the mix a little bit at safety? How about seeing running back Dion Lewis, who has faded deep into the rotation after some early-season flashes? Maybe the most concerning young player not on the field is last year's first-round draft pick Brandon Graham, who was basically a healthy scratch, I think, against New England. He is recovering from his torn ACL from a year ago and, as I've said all along, it is hard for any player to come back to full recovery the next season after the injury, but Graham needs to play. He clearly is not showing it in practice, or the coaches would suit him up. How much would it hurt to get Graham some game reps at this point in the year?
  • It's way past time for this, but what the heck: The Eagles need an identity in the red zone offensively. They rank 24th in the league in red zone efficiency with a 44.9 percent touchdown percentage. Only one team, New England (50) has made more trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line than the Eagles (49), and if you want to see how drastic the efficiency level is, New England has scored 261 red-zone points and the Eagles have scored 202. That's 59 points in 11 games. That's huge. What is the Eagles' go-to play in the red zone? Do they have one?
  • Clearly, the defense is searching for that answer inside the 20-yard line as well. The Eagles, for the second consecutive season, rank last in the NFL in red-zone efficiency, allowing touchdowns on 71 percent of teams' visits inside the 20.
  • As disappointing as this season is, I see a good foundation on the roster. I really, honestly do. I like the constitution of the offensive line, one that features two rookies inside and two Pro Bowl-caliber tackles outside. I like the skill-position players here on offense, although DeSean Jackson's season has been troubling. I like the cornerbacks here, but I would like to see more from third-round draft pick Curtis Marsh in terms of getting him on the field. The defensive line has some talent and has been reasonably productive, but is still missing a monster, butt-kicking player. I maintain that the Eagles will be a good team for years to come, providing they draft well and hit on a few free agents ahead.
  • Not give up. Please don't give up. I'm talking to the players here. If the Eagles go out and play without any fire and intensity in Seattle, well, then I shudder to think what that means. We already know how fragile chemistry in the locker room is for every team every year. I say it is time for the young players here -- and I'm talking about Jason Kelce and LeSean McCoy and players like that -- stand up and take over the locker room. They are going to be here for the future. This is their team. Enough waiting for the veteran leadership. That ship has passed. Cullen Jenkins and Jason Avant have tried, but the locker room needs more than two leaders.
  • Can Juan Castillo tweak his scheme a bit and feature the cornerbacks in more man-to-man coverage? I mean, look, the Eagles are playing Seattle on Thursday night. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is not the kind of guy who his known for his pin-point accuracy. Make him throw the ball into tight windows. Don't sit back in a zone. Go after him with the blitz and get up on the receivers. Please. I say it's 50/50 on Nnamdi Asomugha playing with that knee injury. If he can't go, give Marsh a chance and let him get used to the speed of the NFL game.
  • The team needs to push Colt Anderson for the Pro Bowl. He is a huge, huge reason the Eagles rank second in the league in kickoff coverage, holding teams to an average start of the 20.2-yard line with a very average touchback percentage of 30.9.
  • The worst thing the Eagles can do is panic and point fingers internally and I don't think that will happen here. I would like to see some roster tweaks, if the team sees some players out there who can help. Pluck a practice squad player from one team and add him to the 53-man roster. Move some pieces around on this practice squad. Find out as much about as many players as possible.
  • I think it is time to stop whining about the amount of touches -- and I'm talking to the fans and the media -- McCoy gets each week. He has 198 carries, which is the exact same number as Matt Forte in Chicago, 21 fewer (less than 2 per game) than Michael Turner in Atlanta and one fewer than Frank Gore has with the 49ers. McCoy is averaging about 22 touches per game. That's a fine number. Forte has exactly 14 more touches this season than does McCoy. Maurice Jones-Drew has 253 touches this year to lead all running backs. Then it's Forte and then it's McCoy. He is getting as many touches as any back in the NFL.
  • Moving forward, the Eagles have to consider their approach to signing veteran free agents. Did they sign too many this season? Perhaps. There are a lot of players on one-year deals, and I am not in favor of that. Steve Smith hasn't contributed much at wide receiver. Vince Young has been a solid backup at times, but he's here only one year. Ronnie Brown has been used little at running back. Jarrad Page didn't work out at safety. Only Evan Mathis, the starting left guard, has been everything the Eagles hoped he would be. I want players who are invested in this team for the long term. I want players here who want to be Eagles.
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