The Seattle Seahawks’ mini bye week is almost over, and when they return to the field they’ll be on the road to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in their sole Monday Night Football appearance this season. Both teams are in a tight divisional race, but one team is in the best division in football while the other is in what is shaping up to be historically the worst one ever. Seattle is 7-3 and the upcoming schedule looks favorable, whereas the Eagles are 3-6-1 and still have to play the Saints and Packers over the next few weeks. Not fun, is it?
Philadelphia’s incredible run to the Super Bowl seems so long ago, when in reality it’s only been three years. The Seahawks missed the playoffs in 2017 and were certainly written off by many as heading for irrelevance, whereas the Eagles triumphed over the New England Patriots even with Nick Foles replacing the injured Carson Wentz late in the season. I don’t need to tell you how things have gone since then.
So as for this game, what do we have in store? Well that’s where Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation comes in to talk about Wentz, the Eagles defense, the outlook on their season, and more.
1.) Carson Wentz looks like one of the worst QBs in the NFL just three years after having an MVP caliber season. How much of this is Wentz and how much do you believe is on personnel and coaching?
There’s blame to share, for sure.
Howie Roseman deserves to be fired in part for failing to adequately help Wentz with an ideal supporting cast.
Doug Pederson and his coaching staff haven’t done the greatest job of making Wentz’s life easier this season.
With all that said, Wentz ultimately needs to be held accountable for his struggles. He’s been awful. Accuracy has always been an issue and that’s no different this year considering he ranks third to last in “on-target throw percentage.” He’s not getting the ball out quickly enough and that indecision is contributing to sacks and turnovers.
Wentz is playing so poorly that he unquestionably deserves to be benched. (Apparently DK Metcalf agrees.) It doesn’t seem like the Eagles are ready to make that move yet but maybe more struggles against the Seahawks will change their minds.
It’ll be interesting to see if the offense looks just as bad with Jalen Hurts playing. It’s very possible that it does! But Hurts having some success would further prove that Wentz deserves a lot of blame.
2.) Doug Pederson is pretty adamant that Wentz won’t be benched, and indicated that benching him would tell the team that the season is over. The Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts in the 2nd round and have used him mostly as a gadget player. Do you believe it’s time to pull the plug on Wentz and see what Hurts can provide as an actual starting quarterback?
Ha, nice follow-up! I touched on this above before reading this second question. But, yeah, it’s time.
And I don’t think it necessarily has to mean the Eagles are pulling the plug on Wentz for good. I mean, they can’t really move on from him in 2021 anyway because they’re stuck with his contract.
In addition to wanting to see what Hurts can do, I want to see how Wentz responds to being held accountable. It’s my understanding that he has way too much power in the organization and that includes considerable influence over the offense. He could stand to benefit from being humbled.
I also think you have to consider the message that benching Wentz sends to the rest of the team. Pederson keeps saying that such a maneuver would signal the Eagles are giving up on the season. I don’t see it that way. I think it’s about upholding the idea of meritocracy. Wentz’s contract is really the only reason he hasn’t been benched to this point.
3.) We hear a lot about the Eagles offense because of their injuries and Wentz’s struggles, but how has the Philadelphia defense fared over the course of this season? Would it be fair to say their pass rush remains the strength of the team?
The defense has fared better than the offense. Philly ranks tied for sixth in opponent yards per play, 13th in defensive DVOA, and 18th in opponent offensive points per game. And they’ve often been put in tough spots with the Eagles ranking third in giveaways.
Their most recent performance was good. They only allowed 13 offensive points to the Browns and they generated a turnover that directly set up a 19-yard touchdown drive. They also should’ve had a red zone takeaway that was negated by the refs blowing the whistle too soon on a Baker Mayfield fumble.
This isn’t to suggest it’s a lockdown unit. They have some of the worst linebackers in the NFL. The No. 2 cornerback spot across from Darius Slay is a big weakness. Avonte Maddox hasn’t proved to be an ideal starter on the outside. The Seahawks should know this well from seeing Metcalf burn him in the playoffs earlier this year. That could easily happen again in this game.
And, yeah, that’s fair to say about the pass rush. The Eagles rank second in sacks per game and first in PFF’s pass rush grade. But their success in that regard obviously doesn’t have them playing like an elite defense.
4.) Are there any breakout Eagles players the Seahawks should know about? And which of them could even make a significant impact on Monday night’s game?
Given how bad Seattle’s pass defense has been, it’ll be interesting to see if the Eagles can get Travis Fulgham back on track. He was actually leading the NFL in receiving (yes, seriously) from Week 4 through Week 9. He’s cooled off recently, though, with just two receptions for 16 yards over the past two games.
On defense, watch out for Josh Sweat. He was active last week with two tackles for loss, one sack, and one quarterback hit. He has the athleticism to chase Russell Wilson around. Maybe he comes up with a strip-sack at one point.
5.) Seahawks fans were in a spot ten years ago where some of us were not all that enthused about getting to the playoffs and missing out on a top-15 draft pick. Seattle won the NFC West at 7-9, Beastquake happened, and the rest is history. What’s the sense from Eagles fans right now? Are you Team Tank or Team Win NFC East so that the Cowboys don’t get in?
Having to watch the Eagles play an extra game this season sounds awful. They’re miserable and exhausting. Not fun at all.
Winning the division would only be a false positive. I’m all for them losing and realizing that significant changes need to be made.
Thanks to Brandon for answering my questions. You can read my Q&A over at Bleeding Green Nation in the link below.