Ranking who’s to blame for Eagles disastrous start

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It’s time to start pointing fingers.

The Eagles are 0-2 for the first time since 2015, and it’s no fluke. This team has been outscored by 28 points through two weeks, leads the sport in turnovers and ranks last in turnover differential. This isn’t some sort of dream. It’s bad football.

So how did it get this bad? Why is this happening?

Let’s assign blame rankings to the 0-2 Eagles, starting with the most culpable person in the franchise right now.

1. Carson Wentz

It starts and ends here.

The Eagles are getting bad quarterback play. No, not top 10. Not almost top 10. Awful. Wentz’s play is alarmingly bad, and no overreaction is too harsh right now. Want him benched for Jalen Hurts? Don’t be bashful. Re-thinking that whole long-term deal the Eagles handed him before the 2019 season? Join the club. Questioning if we’ll ever see a return to top-level play from this quarterback? You are not alone.

Wentz’s mechanics are regressing. His ball placement is horrendous, not just inconsistent. Watch the entire NFL and ask yourself this question: How many quarterbacks is Wentz actually more talented than right now? Almost every starter can make big throws. Most are either off-the-charts athletic (Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray) or have special accuracy when the pocket is clean (Jared Goff, Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins). Wentz is not in either category.

The excuses (Frank Reich isn’t here, the offensive isn’t creative enough, the wide receivers are bad) are getting old. Wentz is playing bad football, and dragging the team down. In the first two weeks of the season, Wentz has been outplayed head-to-head by Dwayne Haskins and Goff.
Think about that for a minute, and then re-think what you may have thought about this quarterback. Wentz needs to improve ASAP or the Eagles season is sunk.

2. Howie Roseman

Some of this is by design.
Some of that design is the residue of past mistakes.

Roseman knew this team’s Super Bowl window was closed when the 2019 season ended. He basically said it. He (mostly) acted like it during the offseason. It was smart. The page needed to be turned. It’s a big part of the season why the Eagles look so green (as in young, not the color of their jerseys) in so many areas. It’s why more veteran help wasn’t delivered across the offensive line or wide receiver group. It’s why Hurts was selected in the second round.

Of course, it didn’t have to be this way.

We can spend all day listing missed draft pick after missed draft pick since Roseman re-took power in 2016. But it might be easier just to jot down a quick list of players drafted since 2016 that inspire long-term confidence right now: Issac Seumalo, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders. That’s all I have. You can squint and list Avonte Maddox, Josh Sweat or Derek Barnett if you want. But that would require way more faith than I’m willing to put in those players.

The Eagles are in a rebuild without calling it a rebuild. It’s the smart thing, but it’s Roseman’s fault that we needed to get here in 2020.

3. Jim Schwartz

I thought Schwartz’s defense played mostly well in Week 1, only to be dealt an awful hand by Wentz and the offense. That was not the case in Week 2. Sean McVay embarrassed the Eagles defensive coordinator. Every route combination seemed to work. Every misdirection (including a Robert Woods touchdown run) was a hit. Goff had time, and we know how accurate he can be with a clean pocket. Tyler Higbee was made to look like prime Antonio Gates. The final numbers (191 yards rushing, 142.1 passer rating allowed) were ugly, and the eye test backed it up.

But the issue stems beyond one bad game. It’s clear that Schwartz has at least some power over defensive personnel. This isn’t the case of a coordinator being dealt a bad hand. Schwartz wants his defense built with major resources poured in the defensive line and little-to-none at linebacker.
When the defensive line is invisible and linebackers are being picked on, that’s on the philosophy more than anything.

4. Doug Pederson

Ranking the head coach any higher wouldn’t be fair. I didn’t think Pederson had a good Week 1. But that wasn’t the case yesterday. The offensive line (zero sacks allowed, only three quarterback hits) was more than solid, and neutralized Aaron Donald all day. The run game (121 yards) was effective and Pederson didn’t abandon it. The pocket moved (go re-watch the design of Wentz’s interception in the end zone) to create time, space and throwing lanes for Wentz. Twenty-five first downs and 363 yards were racked up.

Was the call to kick the field goal instead of taking the 4th and three after a Rams penalty less aggressive than we normally see from Pederson? Yes. But without faith in the quarterback, it was a defensible decision. We can chide Pederson for slow starts and begin to start to wonder if this team is still giving him its collective best effort, but this coach has one main job: Design the offense, call the plays and put his team in the best position to win. I still see an offensive-minded head coach that does that.

5. Jeff Lurie

I’m not letting the owner off the hook.

Lurie meddles too much, as evidenced by the bizarre end-of-season offensive coordinator dance done by Pederson last January. I appreciate Lurie’s commitment to his team and franchise, but get out of the way. Once you undercut the ability of the head coach to pick and lead his staff, the seeds of doubt are planted inside the building.

And don’t get me started on Jason Peters and the free money Lurie has handed the Eagles “leader” over the last few years. If you don’t think that resonates with other players, check out Zach Ertz’s demeanor this season. There’s bad juju with this franchise right now, and the owner deserves some of the blame.

6. The entire defensive line

Let’s keep the last one short and simple: No team in the NFL is paying its defensive front more than the Eagles. They are supposed to wreck games. Outside of quarterback, it’s the biggest disappointment on the team through two weeks.