Behind Enemy Lines with Eagles Maven Ed Kracz
Ed Kracz of the Eagles Maven offered to answer five of my most burning questions about the Eagles, who host the Giants on Monday Night Football.
The Eagles are very much int he thick of the NFC East playoff race. With Dallas losing to the Bears on Thursday Night Football, if the Eagles can beat the Giants Monday night, they’ll be just a half-game out of the NFC lead (this due to the earlier matchup against the Cowboys which the Eagles lost).
In our five-question segment, I asked about the big picture--Carson Wentz, the Eagles' struggles, the defense, and the biggest X-factor in the upcoming game against the Giants.
Let’s see what Ed had to say...and don't forget to check out the Eagles Maven to see what I had to say in response to Ed's questions.
1. Are you surprised the Eagles have struggled so much since winning their Super Bowl?
Very much so, yes. This looked like a team whose Super Bowl window would be open for the next several years, with key players under contract through the early part of the next decade.
Looking at the situation now, I will say that the one key ingredient that may be missing is the hunger. When the Eagles won it all, they played the underdog role to its fullest extent. They were a motivated and determined team and a very hungry one.
Having won it all, the hunger that drove them to such lofty heights is missing.
2. What do you see as being the most significant reason behind Carson Wentz’s inconsistency?
A lot of people will say that it is because he is missing two members of the coaching staff that fueled him in 2017 – his offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterback coach John DeFilippo. I have resisted that train of thought through 2018 and early into this season, but I am starting to believe there is something to that.
I think another component is he was stung by anonymous sources who took shots at him last year and this year. Many assume the anonymous player was Alshon Jeffery, so some locker room issues have affected him.
Finally, I’m not sure head coach Doug Pederson has done him many favors in game-planning these past three weeks – all losses. The game plan has been pass-heavy, with just 19 rushing attempts last week, 21 against the Patriots, and 23 against Seattle.
3. How much has losing Frank Reich hurt the Eagles?
I think Doug Pederson misses him plenty. He and Reich were the final two coaches to view the game plan the night before games. The two of them would go over it with a fine-tooth comb to be sure it has a chance to succeed.
Reich was, in a sense, a father figure to Pederson and the players. That sort of touch is something that is missing with current offensive coordinator Mike Groh, who is 11 years younger than Reich and far less experienced in the role.
4. After playing so solid against teams like the Seahawks and Patriots, what changed with the defense against Miami?
That’s the million-dollar question. They certainly came back to earth. Maybe it was the players reading their so-called “press clippings.”
They were asked all week about only allowing 17 or fewer points in four straight games and if they were aware that the pass defense had climbed to 9 in the league. That’s just speculation.
Facts are the Dolphins receivers – DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki – out-leaped the Eagles corners, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a trend or the Eagles rediscover the identity they showed in those games against Seattle and New England.
5. Historically the Eagles have had the Giants’ number. That being said, what’s the one matchup or X-factor about this game that has you most concerned?
Eli Manning could be the X-factor. He is finally being given the farewell tour that he probably deserves.
That sort of motivation, coupled with gaining a new perspective on the game while watching from the sidelines the past two months, makes him, in my opinion, dangerous.