The defending Super Bowl champions look mediocre.
At the quarter point of the season, the Philadelphia Eagles (2-2) have an inconsistent offense and a defense that can’t stop anyone on the road.
But coach Doug Pederson isn’t ready to make major changes following a 26-23 overtime loss at Tennessee.
”We have to be more efficient in all three areas, obviously, offense and defense,” Pederson said Monday. ”But our efficiency as we look at it as a staff and as coaches, we have to be careful that we are not just on a whim swapping people out. If you start doing that, it starts moving other people around as well.
”We’re going to take these next couple of days and really evaluate everybody, evaluate us as coaches, too, and see if there’s a change to be made, we’ll make it. If not, then we’ll leave it alone. At the same time, we can also coach a little bit better and get our guys prepared in a situation to play.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz watched his unit waste a 17-3 lead midway through the third quarter by allowing a touchdown, field goal and touchdown on the next three possessions. After the Eagles took a lead in overtime, the Titans converted on fourth-and-15, fourth-and-4 and fourth-and-2 on the winning drive.
The secondary was torched by Marcus Mariota, who was 30 of 43 for 344 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan Fitzpatrick had 402 yards passing and four TDs against the Eagles in Tampa’s 27-21 victory in Week 2.
Cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are having trouble in one-on-one coverage, but lack of pressure by the defensive linemen isn’t helping the coverage guys. Mills gave up several big plays, but it doesn’t appear the team is ready to demote the third-year pro.
”It’s tough. These corners are on islands a lot,” Pederson said. ”I think I look at it from an offensive perspective. When you see a guy that maybe you can attack, you try to attack and that is what offenses are doing right now. And he’s a good player, we have a lot of confidence in him, he has a lot of confidence in himself, and a lot of it just comes down to just detail the work and understand the situation. He is working through it, he’ll get better and we’ll get better as a team.”
The defense was missing safety Rodney McLeod, who had knee surgery last week. Corey Graham replaced him and made a glaring mistake allowing the conversion on fourth-and-15.
At home, the defense has been dominant against Matt Ryan and the Falcons and Andrew Luck and the Colts. On the road, it’s been a struggle.
”We play at home, we’re in front of our crowd, it’s loud, our defense feeds off of that,” Pederson said. ”You go on the road, you’re playing in their home stadium, it’s loud. It’s a strange dynamic. It’s hard to really put a finger on it, quite honestly, because it’s the same players, it’s the same scheme, same team, and we should end up almost feeding off the environment and all of that. But it’s something that we can learn from, we will learn from, and we’ve got to fix it quick.”
The Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings (1-2-1) in an NFC championship game rematch on Sunday. The stakes are lower but both teams are desperate for wins.
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