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October 15, 2023

Eagles future headlines: Far from perfect and injuries everywhere

Here's what they'll be saying on talk radio tomorrow.

The Eagles were completely embarrassed by the Jets on Sunday.

Does it feel like the Eagles were a bad interception away from being perfect 6-0? With the Phillies grabbing most of the headlines this week — kicking off the NLCS on Monday night — the Eagles will take a rare back seat on local talk ratio this week. But that doesn't mean there won't be a ton of banter and chatter about the squad as it prepares for a huge primetime match up against the Dolphins next weekend.

Here's a look at three things we expect to hear from pundits across the Eagles media landscape over the next six days:

Seeing red

The Eagles are one of the worst teams in the NFL in the red zone and it makes almost no sense. Jalen Hurts was an absolute dynamo last season, running for 13 touchdowns — many of them in the red zone. Hurts may have the best targets in football around the goal line in Dallas Goedert, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. The offensive line is also one of the best units in the game.

And yet, heading into Week 6, the Eagles had converted just 42.1% of their red zone tries into touchdowns. That rate is 27th of 32 teams. This comes on the seventh most red zone opportunities in football.

It's led to a lot of Jake Elliott field goals — but also will bite them in the butt eventually. They need to convert their "four-point plays."

The Eagles were extremely bold early against the Jets, going for it on fourth and seven at the seven-yard line, and a Hurts QB keeper just barely broke the plain. A second trip to the red zone in the next quarter saw D'Andre Swift find the end zone on a 10-yard catch and scamper.

The third trip inside the 20 ended with a missed Elliott field goal from short range — something that almost never happens. There is no way the Birds win the Super Bowl converting less than 50% of their red zone trips into touchdowns.

It's worth mentioning that the Jets are 31st in red zone touchdown rate (just over 30%) and settled for four field goals inside the 20 — kudos to the Philly defense on those "four-point plays." 

Undeserving of unbeaten

The Eagles were the last remaining perfect team in football but the Jets embarrassed them on a night that should have anointed them as the top contender in the entire NFL. It's honestly remarkable they even had a chance to beat the Jets, with so many unforced errors at MetLife Stadium. 

A great case of this was in the third quarter, when an offsides jump by Brandon Graham gave Zack Wilson a free play and he connected with Garrett Wilson for a near touchdown. Philly was bailed out by a blindside block from a Jet, and the defense recovered to force a punt. The Jets also dropped a ton of catchable passes — though so did the Eagles for that matter. And Philadelphia's three turnovers Sunday led to no touchdowns scored by New York.

Philly has done a lot of things good over their first six games, but nothing has been great. Hurts has been, maybe 75% as good as his 2022 MVP campaign. The running game has been inconsistent, as has the play-calling. The defense does enough to win but it doesn't dominate.

But the team's superstar quarterback throwing three interceptions is simply unacceptable. 

The Eagles' infirmary

Already entering Week 6 with Darius Slay and Jalen Carter — two of their best defensive players — the Eagles lost Lane Johnson to an ankle injury in the first quarter Sunday, as he awkwardly went down on what many complain is the worst turf in the NFL. He wasn't the only wounded Bird Sunday:

Excuses aside, the Eagles have yet to really play their best football, nor have they been healthy yet. Nakobe Dean fought his way back from an injury to return against the Jets. Players like Quez Watkins and Avonte Maddox remain out, and the next man up Birds are somehow still undefeated.

If this team wants any hope of handling the big boys — the Dolphins are next on the schedule eventually followed by the Cowboys twice, 49ers, Chiefs, Bills and Seahawks (yes, that's really their schedule) — they will need to find a way to get and stay healthy.

Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

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