It’s week 10 of the NFL season and the 4-5 Washington Commanders will be facing a 8-0 Eagles team in Philadelphia.
The teams meet up for the second time this year, with Philadelphia getting close to locking up a playoff spot, and Washington just looking to keep the hopes of a Wild Card berth alive. The last time these two teams met, Carson Wentz was sacked 9 times and the Eagles rolled 24-8. This time, a 2-1 Taylor Heinicke, just off a backbreaking late game loss to the Vikings, leads a Washington team hoping to spoil Philly’s perfect season.
To learn more about these and other issues, I asked Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation five questions about the state of the Eagles and what to look for in this game.
1) At 8-0, the Eagles are on an incredible roll. They have one of the most productive offenses in the league and one of the stingiest defenses. What would you say their biggest weakness is at this point?
Eagles fans are fairly concerned with the team’s run defense. Philadelphia has allowed the fourth-most yards per rush attempt this season.
The Eagles are not good at making tackles. This much is apparent by the eye test but the numbers also back it up. Pro Football Focus’s grading has Philly ranked as THE worst tackling team in the NFL.
Their vulnerability in this regard was on display during the Eagles’ Week 9 win over the Houston Texans. Dameon Pierce was able to rumble his way for 139 yards on 27 carries (5.1 average). This was despite the fact the Texans were missing their top two receiving options; it wasn’t like there was a huge passing threat to account for.
The Commanders might want to try pounding the rock and forcing the Eagles to make good tackles.
2) The Eagles health this year has been amazing. It looks to me like Derek Barnett is the only starting caliber player who has gone down for any length of time. What do you think accounts for Philly’s relative dearth of injuries?
Though he’s not a full-time starter, Jordan Davis being on injured reserve is significant. Davis is one of the team’s best run defenders and the Eagles’ rushing defense clearly didn’t look so hot in their first game without him.
But, yes, to your point, the Eagles have been good at staying healthy. Some of that is just luck. But some of it can probably be attributed to how they’ve revamped their medical staff and taken a lighter approach to practicing. Their training camp schedule this year was less intense than it’s been since I started attending practices in 2013. They never practiced for more than two days in a row and their sessions were often only an hour long or so. They also never tackled to the ground.
Of course, the downside to the Eagles’ relative lack of physicality might explain their tackling issues. But that’s a trade off they’ll take.
3) After the Carson Wentz experiment went south, and draft picks like Andre Dillard, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and Jalen Reagor bombed out, the public opinion of Howie Roseman appeared to dim significantly. In the last year or two, however, Howie seems to be back in the good graces of the NFL’s chattering class. What’s the opinion of Roseman in Philly these days?
Howie has done an excellent job cleaning up the mess that he made. He deserves a ton of credit when it comes to the Eagles’ 8-0 start. He seemingly has identified a franchise quarterback in Jalen Hurts and he’s surrounded him with a loaded roster. Oh, and the Eagles still own the New Orleans Saints’ first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. A selection that is currently set to be made at No. 6 overall.
Howie has been at his best when he’s been doubted. Many questioned the decision to reinstate him to a power position in 2016. He silenced the doubters by building a Super Bowl winner. But his mismanagement unquestionably contributed to their downfall prior to the reset in 2021. During that time, the Eagles seemed to get a little too full of themselves and operate like they were above reproach.
Humble Howie is much better than Hubris Howie. The Eagles’ general manager has earned his spot back in the good graces of fans.
4) The hope from many in DC is that the front office and coaching staff will be completely rebooted this offseason with a change in ownership. Eagles’ Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen has caught my eye as an interesting head coaching prospect. Can you tell us more about him, and his role in this team’s offensive success?
I was a bit skeptical of the Steichen hire. After consulting with some Los Angeles Chargers fans, they pointed to Justin Herbert’s rookie success being more attributable to QB coach Pep Hamilton. I also noticed that Steichen had a high run rate on 2nd-and-long situations, which was troubling.
But Steichen has clearly succeeded in Philly. He took over play-calling duties during the Eagles’ turnaround in 2021. The Eagles were very run-heavy during that time. But they haven’t had to rely on their ground game as a crutch in 2022. The Eagles have a much more capable passing attack than last year. Overall, Philly ranks second in success rate and third in EPA per play.
Part of the Eagles’ offensive success is that they just have a lot of very good players. But it’s fair to say the coaching staff is maximizing what they’ve been given to work with.
At this point in time, I do buy Steichen as an offensive mind. I’m not so sure I buy him as a head coach. He hasn’t been particularly impressive during his press conferences. One doesn’t necessarily need to be the best in that regard to be a good coach. But I don’t have the easiest time imagining him being in control of a big group of players. Might just be a better OC than HC. Perhaps I am underestimating him once again, however.
5) What are you expecting the final score of the game to be this week? DraftKings Sportsbook has the over/under set at 45. How many points do you expect to be scored overall?
The Eagles will win this game by a final score of 28 to 14.
Jalen Hurts lit up the Commanders’ secondary the last time these two teams met. He’s playing at a high level right now and I don’t see that stopping.
Taylor Heinicke probably won’t be getting sacked nine times like Carson Wentz did back in Week 3 but he’ll still face some pressure that will lead to turnover(s).
Thanks again to Brandon for taking time out of his day to answer our questions about the Eagles.
As of right now, Vegas has Philadelphia as 10.5 point favorites over Washington. How would you bet?
This poll is closed
Philly wins by 11 points or more.
Philly wins by 10 points or less, or it’s a tie.
As of now, Vegas has the over/under for this game at 45 points. Which would you bet?
This poll is closed
46 or more total points are scored.
44 points or fewer are scored.