Brandon Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation runs the show for SB Nation’s Eagles’ site and answered five questions ahead of tonight’s game. You’ll notice the difference in tone between the Giants and the Eagles while reading this. Enjoy.
The confidence for Eagles fans seems to be down in the dumps after starting the season winless. How are you all feeling heading into a primetime game against the 49ers?
Well, it’s hard to feel good about the Eagles when Carson Wentz is playing like the worst quarterback in the NFL. The coaching staff isn’t inspiring a ton of confidence. The roster is expensive, old, and poor. Injury issues are piling up for the billionth season in a row. The team could easily be 0-5-1 after their next three games (at SF, at PIT, vs. BAL). So, I’d say everyone is feeling pretty bad. Personally, though, I don’t think the way this season is trending is actually the worst-case scenario for the Eagles.
My greatest fear is that they rally and win a very crappy NFC East at something like 8-7-1. I worry that they’ll talk themselves into running it back for another year instead of making necessary changes. I’ve been saying for some time now that the Eagles haven’t been totally honest with themselves. They took rallying from poor starts to make the playoffs the past two years as these great points of pride as opposed to realizing they were barely a postseason caliber team. They thought they were so much closer to legitimately contending for a Super Bowl than they actually were. The struggles so far should be serving as a wake-up call. So, while it sucks to see the Eagles lose in the short-term, it might actually be what’s best for the organization in the long-term. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s where my mind is at.
What in the world is going on with Carson Wentz, and do you think we’ll see Jalen Hurts sooner than later if this keeps up?
The simple answer is everything is wrong with Carson Wentz right now. BGN’s Benjamin Solak broke it down well in this piece.
My biggest gripe is that he’s wildly inaccurate right now. He ranks second in “poor throws” as defined by Pro Football Reference. His 68.9 passer rating from a clean pocket ranks dead last in the NFL. It’s just incredibly frustrating and demoralizing to watch a quarterback miss open targets all game long. He’s either leaving a lot of plays on the field or turning the ball over. It’s hard to imagine he’ll continue to be THIS bad because we’ve obviously seen him play better than this.
But it’s hard to assume it’s going to happen quickly until we see it. The Eagles are probably best served to try to see if Wentz can break out of his funk. They’re tied to him for the 2021 season, so it’s not like they can easily move on. At some point, though, I just don’t see how the team can justify putting him out there if he’s going to continue to be this bad. I hardly think Hurts is going to be the solution to all of the Eagles’ issues, but I do believe the offense could have some more life with him running the show. It just feels so hopeless right now with Wentz.
But, again, I don’t see the Eagles benching Wentz in the near future. Could (and should) be different when they’re officially eliminated from playoff contention.
General manager John Lynch said to keep an eye on the line of scrimmage and see if the 49ers offensive line matches the Eagles defensive line’s intensity. Philly’s sacks seem to come in bunches. Is this the best part of their team and the biggest chance for them to pull off an upset?
Yeah, that’s a good assessment. The Eagles’ pass rush came to life last week with eight sacks and 18 quarterback hits. Pretty good! Now, that performance came against a Cincinnati Bengals team that was allowing the third-most pressures heading into Week 3. Pro Football Focus has Cincy ranked 26th in pass blocking, whereas the 49ers are 15th. So, some of that performance was about the Bengals being bad. We had just seen the Eagles only manage sack Jared Goff once and hit him twice in Week 2.I do expect the Eagles’ pass rush to give the 49ers some issues. I don’t think it’ll be enough to where San Fran can’t overcome it, though.
How has your outlook changed on the Eagles from the beginning of the season to now, and do you think they should blow it up (fire Doug/move on from Wentz) if the losing keeps up?
Heading into the season, I was concerned about Howie Roseman as the Eagles’ general manager. There’s no question he did an incredible job of building them into a Super Bowl champion in 2017. But that year continues to look like the outlier for his career. He can’t just rely on hitting on every veteran free agent acquisition like he did that season. He also needs to draft well, and that’s something the Eagles just haven’t done. Philly has the NFL’s second most expensive roster in part because they’ve struggled to build through means of acquiring inexpensive rookies.
Of the Roseman, Pederson, and Wentz power trio, I believe Roseman is most to blame for the Eagles’ struggles. Unfortunately, I also think he’s the least likely to go since Jeffrey Lurie has always been smitten with him. I fear that Pederson is going to be scapegoated after this season. This isn’t to suggest Doug is blameless, but I’d like to see him have some more talent to work with. As for Wentz, again, the Eagles are pretty much stuck with him.
Score prediction. Who wins, and why?
No one in their right mind should be picking the Eagles to win this game. They look awful, and they’re banged up. The 49ers just won by 27 points despite being injured, and they’re getting George Kittle back. He’s absolutely going to victimize Nathan Gerry on Sunday night. With that said, if there’s one thing working in the Eagles’ favor, it might be that Jim Schwartz seems to have Kyle Shanahan’s number? In six meetings since 2009, Schwartz’s defenses have held Shanahan’s offenses to an average of 15.5 points per game. Schwartz has been on the winning side five times, with the one loss being a 13 to 12 defeat. But even if the Eagles’ defense comes to play, I don’t think the Eagles’ struggling and undermanned offense has the juice to outscore the 49ers.
49ers win this game, 28 to 10.