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September 20, 2019

Recalculating the Eagles' areas of concern after two weeks

Eagles NFL
092019FletcherCox Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Forget the receivers. If Fletcher Cox isn't the same beast he has always been, that's the Eagles' biggest concern.

Entering the 2019 regular season, the Philadelphia Eagles, on paper, appeared to have one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the NFL. Two games into the 2019 regular season, their performance on the field hasn't matched their paper potential.

Let's take a position-by-position look at where concerns lie with this roster.

Quarterback

On the one hand, Carson Wentz has looked very good, especially considering the left side of the offensive line has yielded unrelenting pressure. He very nearly pulled out a road win on his own Sunday despite despite a decimated receiving corps, and bad blocking upfront. There's little question about it -- he's back.

On the other hand, he is taking a lot of hits early on this season, some avoidable, some not.

Concern level: Low.

Running back

When Miles Sanders was drafted, the prevailing thought was that he would be fine as a runner immediately, but might struggle early on in pass protection. The exact opposite has been true so far. 

When given a little bit of daylight, Jordan Howard has run well, but he's not a guy who is going to create yardage out of nothing. 

Darren Sproles' usage through two games is confusing. The belief here is that Doug Pederson and/or Duce Staley are too reliant on him.

Corey Clement is hurt again.

Concern level: Moderate.

Wide receiver

Heading into the season, the Eagles' wide receivers looked like one of the better units in the league, and they didn't disappoint Week 1. And then they lost DeSean Jackson (abdomen) and Alshon Jeffery (calf) to a pair of soft tissue injuries, and the receiving corps aren't so scary anymore.

In the short term, the Eagles will have to make due with: 

  1. Nelson Agholor, who had multiple drops Week 2.
  2. Mack Hollins, who would rather be playing special teams.
  3. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who did not look ready Week 2.

In the short term, the receivers are obviously a major concern. In the long-term, does anyone feel awesome about the Eagles' ability to properly handle soft tissue injuries?

Concern level: High.

Offensive line

The right side of the line, and center, are fine.

The left side? Not so much. Isaac Seumalo had one of the worst games I've ever seen Week 2 against Atlanta. He was beaten all night by an assortment of players (not just Grady Jarrett), and it seemed like a combination of bad everything (technique, sheer ability, and most concerning, effort). Seumalo nearly wrecked that game on his own. He was that bad.

Meanwhile, Jason Peters has struggled so far as well, the Eagles don't have any reliable depth to speak of on the interior of their line.

Concern level: High.

Defensive end

The only player who has consistently generated pressure so far is Derek Barnett, who has 6 QB hits through two games, which is nice, but would be nicer if he were to hit the quarterback while he still has the ball. Brandon Graham has been great against the run, as usual, but they really need more from him as a pass rusher. The reserves have not made an impact at all.

Concern level: Moderate.

Defensive tackle

What was thought to be a very deep position isn't so much anymore with Malik Jackson done for the season and Timmy Jernigan out for at least a month.

But those concerns don't compare, in my opinion, to Fletcher Cox having been invisible the first two weeks of the season. He has 3 tackles, a couple of QB hits, and a dropped INT. Cox missed nearly the entirety of the offseason while recovering from surgery on his foot, and he appeared on the injury list this week. Not good. The team needs Cox to be the beast we have come to expect, and there should be valid fears that he is not 100 percent.

Concern level: High.

Linebacker

Meh. Nigel Bradham hasn't made many plays, but it's not as if the Eagles are getting torched in the passing game by running backs and tight ends. Plus, it appears as though Kamu Grugier-Hill will be returning soon, which should help.

Concern level: Low.

Cornerback

If the cornerbacks were fine, there would be no speculation over whether the Eagles will land Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Jim Schwartz insists that Ronald Darby has his full speed back after tearing an ACL last season, but his play on the field would suggest otherwise.

Concern level: Moderate to high.

Safety

Andrew Sendejo stinks, but a bright spot has been Rodney McLeod, who appears to be fully recovered from his knee injury of a season ago.

The Eagles are beginning to recognize that Sendejo stinks, maybe, based on his significantly decreased playing time Week 2. Still, they'll need another answer at the third safety position, assuming they do the right thing and let Sendejo go in favor of a fourth-round comp pick.

Concern level: Moderate.


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