The undefeated Philadelphia Eagles are not perfect, but their record is still impressive.
It’s probably nitpicking to find anything wrong with a team that has won eight games in a row, looks dominant at times, and even might look unbeatable. And wrong is a relative term when ranking them near the top in nearly every category you can think of.
But the Eagles don’t need to look too hard at their 29-17 victory over the Texans in Houston on Thursday night to find one thing that might be important down the road.
This Eagle’s defense has a long history of being unable to stop running backs and consistently allowing them to pick up yards.
The Texans are playing well, but at some point, a team will come and defeat them.
The Texans attempted an unsuccessful rally by only losing 34-14 to the Eagles. They were down 14-7 at the half, came back and tied it up at 21-21 in the third quarter, and they even started to make a comeback in the fourth.
But the Texans were able to sustain drives, including their first scoring drive all season long, by relying on rookie running back Dameon Pierce who had 139 yards on 27 carries.
Pierce didn’t have much of a defense to stop him as the Texans put up a sorry showing on Sunday. But this first-year back from Florida decided he was going no matter what and ran through the Texans’ D time after time.
He broke through tackles at the line of scrimmage and 3 more downfield before he was forced out of bounds.
In the second half, the Eagles improved their tackling on Pierce, but it still seemed like they needed 3 defenders and a few extra yards to drag him down, every time he got the ball.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the worst tackling teams in the league this season. They rank second-worst, ahead of only the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to Pro Football Focus grades.
The Philadelphia Eagles are giving up 121.3 yards per game on the ground. This is a huge concern because they lead in every game they have played so far this season. One Week 1 incident that exemplifies this was when Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift ran 144 yards on 15 carries (9.6 yards per carry).
Sure, the Eagles might be able to stop the run for a few games in a row, but then they’ll revert back to being incapable of stopping a running play. It’s frustrating, but it’s led me to look for other defenses.
The Texans faced a 2nd and 14 at their own 21 after the Eagles took a 21-14 lead. Quarterback David Mills threw a quick screen to receiver Chris Moore just behind the line of scrimmage, and cornerback Avonte Maddox decided to let him have it. Instead of tackling Moore, he ran right past him and Moore ended up running for 25 yards, which ignited a drive that became a field goal.
Obviously, the Texans couldn’t keep up with the Eagle’s offense. Luckily for Philadelphia, quarterback Jalen Hurts’s first fumble of the year (in just his second drive) prevented a blowout.
In addition to their flaws, the Toronto Eagles continued to defend well, with safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson getting an interception for the fourth consecutive game. Cornerback James Bradberry also got an interception on Davis Mills, who was attempting a last-minute drive, and that came after Hargrave had his second sack of the quarter and third of the day.
Those missed tackles and lapses in run defense were not a big deal Thursday night. But, they may come back to haunt you… on Monday, November 9th– game day.
In their last two games against the Giants and Saquon Barkley, the Lions struggled to stop his explosiveness. And in their next game against the Cowboys on Christmas Eve, they’ll have their work cut out for them.
The Cowboys only had 134 yards on 5.2 yards per carry in their loss to the Eagles three weeks ago. Their season-high was by Ezekiel Elliott at 81 yards on 13 carries, which would have been enough for a Dallas win if Cooper Rush didn’t throw for only conservative 2.4 yards per pass attempt in that game.
The Eagles also still need to take on Tennessee, New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Green Bay. And Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Jonathan Taylor, and Aaron Jones will be hard to beat.
The Eagles are clearly better than every team in that group, so they should win. Their defense will be the difference-maker if they’re off.
They’re still making too many mistakes. The Eagles haven’t lost yet, but they should take note of how the Texans got the best of them. Sure, it’s nitpicking, but they were in a much better position to win and have goals that are bigger than surviving another game against an average team.
Before they can celebrate their championship victory, the team has to address this big red flag.
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