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Coordinators Identify Areas to Improve After Mini-Bye

The Eagles' coordinators each identified areas that need improvement

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles' 2-4 start during what was described as a transition year by Jeffrey Lurie back in the winter has gone as well as expected from a bottom-line standpoint.

Losses to San Francisco, at Dallas, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay were hardly pearl-clutching developments but the aesthetics of the setbacks have been the problem.

Nick Sirianni was sold as an offensive innovator able to scheme up his talent, rookie defensive chief Jonathan Gannon was Belichick-ian, able to morph into multiple looks depending on the opponent that week and Michael Clay, was the real unknown with special teams, a very young coach brought in to bring energy and juice to units that drive on such traits.

Through the small sample size of six games, Clay has gotten the highest grades for what he's done with the special teams units, while Gannon has lagged behind with a vanilla defense too dependent on zone coverage while Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen have received the harshest critiques under the most high-powered microscope.

The Eagles' offense has too often looked overmatched with the chicken and the egg causality dilemma taking off. If Sirianni is trying to protect young quarterback Jalen Hurts or is he unable to put together a more complex offense that doesn't immediately default to forgetting the running game or eliminant the middle of the field.

Each coordinator got an opportunity to explain where they think they are heading into Week 7 in Las Vegas.

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Clay was the first up with the positives being coverage schemes and punter Arryn Siposs and the negatives starting the inconsistency in the return games.

"I'd like to improve in everything. Just to be more consistent in everything," Clay said. "We've had our highs in almost every aspect, and we've had our lows in almost every aspect, but that's how it's going to be. If everything was on a high, everybody would be joining to be a special teams coordinator."

Clay did not that the return games need improvement pointing to the inconsistent decision-making from Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins and the occasional penalty mucking up the works.

"I think just the whole growth process in both the return phase, we'd love to get Jalen going a little bit, he got a little taste of it in Carolina, and we tried to," Clay said. "Unfortunately, we had a penalty that negated a 34-yard net. We still want to be very good at not committing penalties, and I think the guys have done a really good job with that."

Clay was aware of the chill in the air and understands the back portion of the schedule will provide a new variable at times: the weather in the Northeast.

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"As the weather shifts, our coverage phases are really going to have to take over," he said. "The ball is not going to travel out, there's not going to be a lot of touchbacks.

"But for the most part, the first six weeks or the first third of the season, I think I'm really proud of how the guys have been competing and effort-wise, but with the ebbs and flows of the season, our return game I would like to get better and keep our coverage game going, and that's going to be a full effort from the players to myself to Joe P (Eagles Assistant Special Teams Coordinator Joe Pannunzio) and (Special Teams Quality Control Coach) Tyler Brown."

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Next up was Steichen, who highlighted early downs as the major issue bogging down the Philadelphia offense.

"Efficiency on first and second down," he said. "We had some really good conversations as an offensive staff on Friday, and, obviously, we self-scout ourselves every week, but, obviously, we had some extra time this weekend to look through some certain things on what we can get better at. 

"I think we're going to be all right. I really do. I think we have the right coaching staff. Coach (Sirianni) does a heck of a job, he's a great leader, and we've got the right players to get this thing turned."

As far as the playmakers, the lack of touches (9.5 carries per game) for Sanders has created the perception of an unbalanced offense.

Gannon pegged situation football as the aspect he's focused on.

"Learned that we need to get better in situational ball, which kind of knew that," Gannon said. "And kind of moving forward, want to hang our hat on a few things that (have) been good for us, that we've been executing at a high level and guys are making a bunch of plays in certain defenses and certain calls and we've got to utilize those calls a little more often."

The players return to the practice field Wednesday and any changes will be unveiled Sunday at the Raiders.

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.