The Philadelphia Eagles resemble the Detroit Lions in many ways. Like Detroit, the Eagles are in Year 1 of a new head coach, and they had to spend most of the offseason selling their off parts for draft picks and cap space. But the feelings in the two cities couldn’t be more different. While Lions head coach Dan Campbell is receiving wild praise and appears to have the full support of his players, Nick Sirianni is getting calls for his job and has players openly criticizing game plans.
As a result, we’re looking at this Week 8 matchup between two teams with a combined two wins.
The Lions are getting a much-needed break on their tough schedule. So it this the week Detroit finally notches their first win under Campbell?
Let’s take a closer look at the Lions’ Week 8 opponent.
- 4-11-1 record (4th in NFC East)
- 26th in points scored, 20th in points allowed
- Overall DVOA: 21st (21st on offense, 23rd on defense)
Last year was a pretty big disaster for the Eagles. Despite a NFC East there for the taking, the Eagles just couldn’t get it together at any point in the season. Carson Wentz couldn’t be relied upon to play well or stay healthy, leading to one of the most ineffective passing attacks in the league.
Defensively, they weren’t much better, allowing 30 points in six games.
To be completely fair to the Eagles, they were also ravished by injuries. They ranked 31st in Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost, meaning only one other team (the 49ers) was more impacted by injuries than Philly last year.
Key free agent additions: S Anthony Harris, LB Eric Wilson,
Key losses: QB Carson Wentz (trade), DT Malik Jackson, CB Jalen Mills, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Marquise Goodwin (trade), EDGE Vinny Curry, LB Duke Riley, LB Nate Gerry
Mid-season trade: TE Zach Ertz
2021 NFL draft picks:
Round 1: WR DeVonta Smith
Round 2: C Landon Dickerson
Round 3: DT Milton Williams
Round 4: CB Zech McPhearson
Round 5: RB Kenneth Gainwell
Round 6: DT Marlon Tuipulotu
Round 6: DE Tarron Jackson
Round 6: S JaCoby Stevens
Round 7: LB Patrick Johnson
The biggest move the Eagles made this offseason was trading Wentz to the Colts for 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second rounder. The immediate impact, however, was a disastrous $33.8 million in dead cap hit for 2022, the highest ever for a single player.
As a result, the Eagles were not a very active team in free agency. In cost-cutting moves, they released Malik Jackson, DeSean Jackson, and Alshon Jeffery.
In other words, the Eagles had to do some serious trimming of the roster to get under the cap, and their 2021 roster is suffering because of it.
That being said, they have loaded up on draft picks for the future, and are currently lined up to have three draft picks in the top 13 for the 2022 NFL Draft.
- New HC: Nick Sirianni (also calls offensive plays)
- Hew DC: Jonathan Gannon
- New ST coordinator: Michael Clay
- New QB coach: Jeff Stoutland
- New RB coach: Jemal Singleton
- Entirely new defensive staff led by defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon
The Philadelphia Eagles decided late in the process to make a change at head coach, parting ways with Doug Pederson just three years after bringing a Lombardi Trophy to Philly. They tried to replace him with the popular trend of adding a young, on-the-rise offensive coordinator in Sirianni, who helped lead the 2020 Colts to a top-10 offense despite having the corpse of Philip Rivers at quarterback.
They also made full-scale changes to their defensive coaching staff. Both RB coach Duce Staley and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp requested to get out of Philly for much better opportunities elsewhere.
2021 season thus far (2-5)
Week 1: Beat Falcons, 32-6
Week 2: Lost to 49ers, 11-17
Week 3: Lost to Cowboys, 21-41
Week 4: Lost to Chiefs, 30-42
Week 5: Beat Panthers, 21-18
Week 6: Lost to Buccaneers, 22-28
Week 7: Lost to Raiders, 22-33
- 18th in points scored (22.7 PPG), 24th in points against (26.4 PPG)
- 21st overall in DVOA (21st on offense, 23rd on defense, 18th on special teams)
- Offensive DVOA: 23rd in pass offense, 8th in run offense
- Defensive DVOA: 19th in pass defense, 29th in run defense
So far, the Eagles look like a team that had to cut a bunch of resources just to survive the lowered salary cap. Lions fans should know all about that.
Of course, the most intriguing part about the team is their quarterback situation, where Jalen Hurts has taken over as starter. Hurts has been an inconsistent passer this season, but he is a dual-threat quarterback who currently leads the team in rushing yards. Unfortunately, that hasn’t moved the needle much for the Eagles’ offense this year. Part of the problem is their lack of receiving threats after moving on from Jackson, Jeffery, Goodwin and Ertz, although DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins are playing decently.
Defensively, they’re worse off than last year. Though Fletcher Cox and Darius Slay are both playing at a high level, there really isn’t much else this defense can hang its hat on. They rank 25th in passer rating allowed and have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL.
Key injuries: EDGE Brandon Graham (IR), RG Brandon Brooks (IR), LG Isaac Seumalo (IR), S K’Von Wallace (IR), S Anthony Harris (groin/hands), RB Miles Sanders (ankle)
The Eagles offensive line has been decimated by injuries to both starting guards, but their defensive back end is hurting just as bad with injuries to two starters there. Harris has a chance of returning this week, though.
Perhaps the biggest injury news was the injury to Sanders last week, who had to be carted off with an ankle injury. That being said, rookie fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell played quite well in his place and will be expected to start this week.
Biggest strength: Offensive line
Despite the injuries to their starting guards, the Eagles’ offensive line has kept it together quite well. Philly is ranked in the top 10 in PFF’s pass blocking team grade (seventh) and run blocking (fourth). They’re also top 10 in ESPN’s pass block (eighth) and run block (second) win rates.
Biggest weakness: Linebackers
I watched the Eagles defense against the Raiders. Honestly, not as painful as I expected. The simple reality is that each Eagles LB, and each Eagles SAF excluding McLeod, is borderline unplayable *in any scheme.* Davion Taylor particularly couldn't find a good play all game.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) October 26, 2021
As of right now, the Eagles’ three starting linebackers all have PFF grades below 50.0. The middle of that field should be very open on Sunday, which could be great news for guys like T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift.
Vegas odds for Sunday: Eagles by 3.5
The Eagles aren’t very good, and their weaknesses (run defense, passing attack) match up well for the Lions. Detroit has a chance at stopping the Eagles’ rushing attack with how well they’ve been bottling opponents at times, and the Lions’ offensive weapons match up nicely against the Eagles.
Luckily, where the Lions are weakest (pass defense), the Eagles don’t pose as big of a threat as other teams they’ve faced. By all accounts this is a winnable game for both rebuilding teams.