The Eagles sit at 0-2-1 ahead of their Week Four matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. Losses to both the Washington Football Team, the LA Rams and an Overtime tie to the Cincinnati Bengals have put Eagles fans in an all out frenzy. To call Sunday nights prime time game a must win is an understatement. As Philly approaches Levi’s stadium, they do so down an all to familiar road. A road that has lead the Eagles to some frustrating and unbelievable outcomes.
Philadelphia has had its share of injuries to start the season. Losing a total of twelve players to some form of Injured Reserve between the end of training camp until now. Down three starting Offensive Linemen, a promising backup Tight End and it’s top three Wide Receivers, the Eagles Offense is a shell of itself for this game. Pair this with “stale” play-calling and innovation, plus a struggling Quarterback and you get exactly what the record above shows. So, how does Philly pull things together and keep this 2020 season from completely unraveling?
Carson’s Time to Shine
We know the Quarterback play has been below average. We also know that to have any sort of sustained success this season, the Quarterback play must improve. Carson Wentz enters Sunday Nights matchup having thrown six interceptions in three games, carrying a measly 63.9 passer rating and a 35.8 QBR, second worst in the NFL.
When the pressure is on, Wentz usually delivers. During the 2019 season, the Eagles found themselves at 5-7. Wentz, and his below average pass catchers, rallied to win four straight and clinch the NFC East. Wide Receivers Desean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery both landed on IR, along with RBs Corey Clement and Darren Sproles. With that being said, Wentz finished with a stat line of: 117-173 with 1,119 yards, 7 TDs and 0 INTs. Wentz will have to turn his play around and lead this team to victories for the foreseeable future, as once again this Eagles offense has been decimated by injuries.
Light on Passing Targets Once Again
We’ve seen this before. Philly heads into Santa Clara with just four healthy receivers. Greg Ward, John Hightower, Travis Fulgham and Deontay Burnett. Not quite the list most fans wanted to see as they get set to play the 49ers on the road. Not to mention Dallas Goedert is on IR with an injured ankle. The question is, which if these receivers is ready to step up?
Greg Ward is the most experienced of the four mentioned above. Having been a part of this Eagles team in some form or fashion since 2017, he knows this offense. What is fascinating about Ward is his ability to get open. A former college Quarterback for the University of Houston, Ward understands the concept of spacing during route running. This past Sunday against the Bengals, Ward put up 8 catches for 92 Yards and a Touchdown. He certainly is not a flashy player, but Wards ability to get open is huge for this offense. Greg Ward plays a major role this Sunday in being the veteran of this receiver group.
John Hightower, a rookie out of Boise State, will start opposite Ward. After a great offseason, Hightower has struggled in his first three games as a Eagle. With no offseason or preseason games, a fourth round pick like Hightower was primed for a slow start regardless. Hightower has three catches for seventeen yards on seven targets. These numbers will have to drastically improve with so many receivers out for Sunday’s game.
Rounding out the receiver group we have Travis Fulgham and Deontay Burnett. Fulgham was signed to the active roster followed by the corresponding move of Burnett being a Practice Squad call up:
Roster Moves: #Eagles have signed WR Travis Fulgham, C Luke Juriga, and RB Adrian Killins from the practice squad to the active roster.#Eagles have placed T Jason Peters and CB Trevor Williams on Reserve/Injured. pic.twitter.com/OJuFEa9Bmp— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 3, 2020
Fulgham, a 2018 6th round draft pick of the Detroit Lions, has also spent time with the Green Bay Packers. He brings a nice combo of size and speed to this receiver group. As for Deontay Burnett, he’s been with the Eagles before. Last season he caught two passes for 48 yards during a Week 17 win over the New York Giants. Look for Burnett to play a role this Sunday, as the Eagles are depleted at the receiver position.
Sanders + Ertz = Security Blankets
Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz should dominate the target share this Sunday. For Sanders, he comes off back to back 100 total yards performances. Week One against the Washington Football Team, Sanders put up 95 rushing yards and added three catches for 36 yards. He followed that up with another 95 yards in the ground and twelve receiving. As highlighted above, the Eagles head into SF down on available receivers. Sanders should eclipse twenty touches tonight. Doing so on the ground and through the air, Miles should get plenty of opportunities to create big plays.
Zach Ertz has been Carson’s go to receiver for years now, and Sunday will be no different. Ertz has been the reliable Tight End the Eagles have needed once again this season. Fifteen catches for 130 yards and a Touchdown this year, including seven for seventy last week against the Bengals, look for Ertz to get plenty of passes thrown his way on Sunday. With backup Tight End Dallas Goedert out, Ertz will have to provide even more snaps as a blocker as well.
The Philadelphia Eagles once again find themselves on grooved pavement. The woes of a terrible start, paired with a cluster of injuries to the offensive side of the ball have made for quite the season. Fans of this team have seen their patience grow thin with the lack of creativeness promised before the season began. The road to success form here on out looks to have a few detours along the way. This Offense will need to put things together to avoid a total reconstruction and closure of the path to the Playoffs in Philadelphia.