The Detroit Lions take on the Philadelphia Eagles this week, in what should be a great match up. In order to learn more about the matchup this week, we got a hold of Brandon Lee Gowton of our SB Nation sister site Bleeding Green Nation to give us a few reasons why the Lions might be able to win this weekend
Nearly 25 percent of the Eagles’ 53-man roster is listed on the injury report this week. That’s not ideal!
The Eagles could realistically be without the following players on Sunday: DeSean Jackson (confirmed out), Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert, Timmy Jernigan (confirmed out), Kamu Grugier-Hill, Corey Clement, Johnathan Cyprien, and Jordan Mailata.
Doug Pederson is holding out hope that Jeffery and Goedert might be able to suit up. Even if they do, though, they’re clearly not going to be 100 percent. And if they DON’T play against the Lions, well, the Eagles will be without an offensive trio (Jackson, Jeffery, Goedert) who combined for 15 receptions, 221 yards, and four touchdowns in Week 1.
The Eagle are currently heading into Sunday’s matchup with …
Three healthy receivers: Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, JJ Arcega-Whiteside.
Two healthy tight ends: Zach Ertz, Alex Ellis.
Agholor, a first-round pick in 2015, offers talent and experience. He entered the 2019 season as the Eagles’ starter in the slot. He logged eight receptions for 107 yards and one touchdown against the Falcons. But he also reminded us that his hands can be inconsistent as he dropped the potential game-winning touchdown in Week 2. One would also imagine the Lions will look to get Darius Slay on Agholor in order to take Philly’s best healthy receiver away.
Hollins missed the entirety of the 2018 season and a good chunk of the 2019 offseason as he recovered from a lingering groin injury. He entered this season as the team’s fourth or fifth receiver. Now he’s thrust into the starting lineup. Hollins has some ability; I’m optimistic he could be a nice role player. Not sure about him as a full-time starter, though.
Arcega-Whiteside logged just one reception for four yards on 75 snaps last week. His inexperience was on display as he didn’t even know where to line up at times. The rookie receiver showed some promise in the preseason but he has everything to prove in regular season action.
Not much needs to be said about Ertz, who broke the single-season record for tight end receptions last year. Wentz will be looking his way early and often.
Ellis was promoted from the practice squad earlier this week. He showed some ability to make you believe he could be a solid third tight end. He’s obviously a big downgrade from what Goedert offers, though.
The good news for the Eagles is they’ll have time to prepare for the absences of key players, unlike last week when multiple starters got hurt in pregame warmups. The bad news is Carson Wentz’s supporting cast is severely undermanned. He’ll need to be on his A-game because it’s not like those guys will be dragging him to a win.
Defensively, Jernigan’s absence is big because he was starting in place of injured starter Malik Jackson. Now the Eagles — who like to heavily rotate their defensive lineman — are down to just their No. 1, No. 4, and No. 5 defensive tackles.
Grugier-Hill being out also hurts given the emergence of Lions first-round draft pick T.J. Hockenson. It would be nice for the Eagles to have Grugier-Hill to help out in coverage on him. Instead the Eagles could have to designate Malcolm Jenkins to the rookie tight end.
2. Slow starts
The Eagles were the NFL’s slowest starting offense in 2018; they only scored a mere 2.6 first quarter points per game.
But 2019 is here now and everything is fixed, right? Wrong!
Through two games, the Eagles have amassed a whopping ZERO first quarter points. They’ve combined for just 10 total first half points.
That’s not good enough. The Eagles MUST start faster instead of playing from behind. Playing with a lead should allow the defense to tee off on the quarterback a little bit more. A lead should also get fans excited instead of having the energy drained out of Lincoln Financial Field.
There was already concern about the Eagles starting fast when the team was at full strength. Now the offense is even worse off following the injuries to Jackson, Jeffery, and Goedert. It wouldn’t be a shock if the Eagles get off to another slow start on Sunday.
3. Struggling pass defense
The Eagles’ pass defense isn’t faring so well right now. Jim Schwartz’s unit has allowed the second most passing yardage through the first two games in franchise history.
There’s blame to share when it comes to the defensive line and the secondary.
Eagles defensive ends have generated exactly zero sacks through two games. Sacks aren’t always *everything* but that’s just not gonna cut it. This defenses needs to get more pressure to help out a leaky secondary.
The Eagles’ pass rush woes might not be solved in Week 3. The Lions’ offensive line didn’t allow a sack and ceded just one quarterback hit in Week 2 and that was going up against Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa.
If the Eagles can’t generate pressure, it could be a long day for a secondary that’s been getting torched early on in 2019. Ronald Darby is an especially concerning weak point in the defense. He got burned multiple times in Week 2; the Falcons showed no reluctance to go right after him. Darby is just 10 months removed from the ACL injury he suffered in November 2018 so he might not have his top speed back.
As an added bonus for the Lions, Matthew Stafford has played well against the Eagles in the past. He’s thrown for nine touchdowns, one interception, and a 101.0 passer rating in four career starts. Sunday’s game could be another nice outing for Stafford.