To say that the Philadelphia Eagles’ early development in the season has been disappointing would be an understatement. Poor execution on offense, sloppy, slow defense, along with the injury bug largely on the loose within the roster have plagued the first three weeks of 2019.

The defensive backfield gets a lot of, if not all the blame for the team’s early struggles, and the unit surely has its fair share of problems. However, their results haven’t been as horrible as fans and media make it seem. Aside from a peewee-level display of tackling on a fluke play and a straight speed burn on another, the DBs pitched a shutout in Week 1, against a better-than-expected Redskins offense.

In Week 2, although CB Ronald Darby was heavily targeted (and exploited) throughout the game, the secondary still managed to keep the game close when the offense couldn’t get out of its own way, by forcing three turnovers.

And in Week 3, the defense allowed only 20 points, despite having to deal with several short-field situations due to the ineptitude of the offense. Overall, the performance has been at least average. Of course, it could always get better if the team manages to acquire a certain All-Pro CB from a certain AFC South team.

On the defensive front, the pass rush has been almost non-existent while playing against three average to below-average offensive lines, which is even more concerning. DC Jim Schwartz has had to completely walk away from his blitz-free scheme and try to manufacture pressure because the defensive line, which was supposed to be one of the strengths of the roster, has been decimated by injuries and those that are healthy aren’t producing at a high level.

Then we get to the offensive side of the ball, and here’s where it gets interesting. In the first two weeks, the unit struggled mightily to move the ball in the first half, which suggests something was wrong with the gameplans set up by HC Doug Pederson and OC Mike Groh. That seemed to be a fixed issue in Week 3, had the execution been better.

Execution which has been the plague of the early season for the Birds and, maybe surprisingly, mostly on offense. The very highly touted offensive line has played very poorly so far this season. Aside from one drive against the Redskins and one against the Lions, the run game can’t get going because the line gets absolutely no push. When it comes to the aerial attack, QB Carson Wentz has to play hero ball every time because: 1-no receivers can get open and 2-there’s always a defender in his face. The Lions (3 sacks and 5 QB hits) and Falcons (3 and 10) got to Wentz constantly using only four or even three-man fronts, and that simply cannot happen.

Speaking of receivers, this area has quickly become an issue. It’s understandable to face difficulties when three of your five biggest receiving threats go down to injury, but that’s when the play-callers should earn their keep. When Detroit schemed TE Zach Ertz out of the game in Week 3, the Eagles had absolutely no answer. No speed, no creativity, no alternative. Philadelphia’s offense looked lost and had to count on the Lions repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot to even have a chance late.

Furthermore, there are all the other miscues. Coming into Week 3, the Titans had the most drops in the league with 6 in two games. The Eagles had SEVEN in one (including one on a JJAW-dropping pass by Wentz). Three fumbles in two drives. Wide-open lanes on the kickoff return for a TD. The sloppiness is unbelievable and, frankly, unacceptable. Backups or not.

In short, from the players to the play-callers, to the training staff (yikes), almost everything has been messy in the early going for the Eagles. It’s almost easier to point out what isn’t an issue than what is. In order to retain the Super Bowl contender status of the offseason, they need to get it together quickly, before the red-hot Cowboys get too far out of reach.

“Fun” fact: The Eagles (-400 preseason favorites to win the NFC East) now have the same record as the Giants (+1000) at 1-2.

Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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