Panic or Not to Panic? That is Now the Question for Eagles Fans
PHILADELPHIA – Carson Wentz said nobody is panicking.
The quarterback wasn’t talking about Eagles fans, but his Eagles teammates.
Players who stepped up to the Zoom camera in the aftermath of a 37-19 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in front of several thousand cardboard cutout fans in Sunday’s home opener all put on brave faces about turning around the first 0-2 start to a season since Chip Kelly’s final year as head coach in 2015.
“It’s a long season,” said running back Miles Sanders. “It’s pretty simple. It’s not the end of the world. We still have 14 more games left.”
Added defensive end Brandon Graham, who had the only sack for either team: “We didn’t work this hard all offseason to turn our back on each other right now. We just need to stay focused, stay working hard and, you know, we are fighters and we are not going to give up. I love that about us and we need to keep that and I think we will.”
The Eagles may think that, and maybe they are right, so they get the benefit of the doubt with three reasons why it’s not time to panic. Of course, there are reasons to panic, too.
THREE REASONS NOT TO PANIC
The improving offensive line. The Eagles did not give up eight sacks like they did in the opener. In fact, they didn’t allow any, and the Rams have one of the most feared defensive linemen in the NFL in Aaron Donald, who registered only one QB hit.
“Just trying to get better, trying to do your job just a little bit better – coaches, players, everybody," said center Jason Kelce. "We did that in pass protection this week. Obviously, it was not good enough to get a win and that is the end goal for all of us. Just have to keep on watching the tape, keep on learning, keep on getting better, and we have next week coming up with the Bengals.”
Miles Sanders. The Eagles running back returned and, yes, he lost a fumble. He also had 131 yards from scrimmage and a 5-yard TD run. He wants to be great, and he could be on his way.
“I felt good,” said Sanders, who missed training camp with a hamstring injury that also forced him to miss the season opener. “I felt fresh. I didn’t take all the plays and stuff that all the other players in the league were doing during training camp. So, I felt pretty fresh, but it also hurt me at the end of the day.
“My conditioning was kind of a problem in the game. But I still just toughed it out and I’m still out there for my team. I still feel fresh, despite the fumble – I take that; that’s on me. I didn’t have a training camp or like weeks of practice. This week was my only week of practice, like full practice. That was expected. That’s on me and it won’t happen again.”
Jalen Reagor. There were no flash plays, but the rookie receiver looked better this week than last and could make the kind of strides Sanders did as a rookie last year as the season went along.
Reagor followed up his one catch for 55 yards against Washington with four catches and 41 yards (10.3 yards per catch) on Sunday with a long of 16 yards.
THREE REASONS TO PANIC
Carson Wentz. It appears as if the quarterback has regressed. OK, only two games, but his turnovers are coming at an alarming rate. He has five of the team’s six.
Sunday's game marked the firt time since Nov. 18, 2018, at New Orleans that he failed to throw a TD pass.
“The one thing that, again, we all have to take a look at, especially offense, is the turnovers,” said head Coach Doug Pederson. “We had the fumble early and of course the interceptions. That's been, I think these first two weeks of the regular season, that's been sort of the tale of the tape.”
Lack of turnovers. The defense doesn’t have one in two games. The special teams got one against the Rams, but, already, the Eagles are in a big hole in the giveaway/takeaway category at minus-5.
Inability to keep opponents out of the red zone. The Rams were four-for-five in the red zone, scoring four touchdowns once inside the Eagles’ 20. Last week, Washington was three-for-four in the red zone. Add it up, and that’s seven touchdowns in nine trips. The defense has to figure out a way to force the other team to kick field goals inside the red zone, or, better yet, come up with a turnover.
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