Clayton: Seahawks’ improving defense could have huge game vs the Eagles’ struggling offense
When ESPN secured the Seahawks-Eagles game for Monday Night Football, the network thought this was a natural pick for primetime.
The Seahawks were trying to gear up for a Super Bowl run while the Eagles have been a consistent playoff team with a great coach in Doug Pederson and a $32 million quarterback in Carson Wentz. What made the matchup look good was the Seahawks and Eagles played each other twice last year, once in November and another time in the playoffs.
Well, the Eagles have had one of the most disappointing teams in the league this season. They are 3-6-1 and reeling. Although the defense is still good, the offense has been a mess. It in fact seems to be getting worse, not better.
Sure, any of these next four games could be traps for the Seahawks. They just need wins to get to 11-3 before their Week 16 game against the Los Angeles Rams. But the downfall of the Eagles caught me by surprise.
The problems started in the season opener against Washington. The Eagles began the season down two starting offensive linemen – Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks. The Washington Football Team are loaded with first-round picks on the defensive line and battered the Eagles. Wentz was sacked eight times in what turned out to be a comeback win for Washington.
Since that game, Wentz has had nothing but problems. He looks lost at times and has gone down to 40 sacks. His numbers are some of the worst in the league. His completion percentage has dropped to 58.4. He’s thrown for 2,326 yards. He’s thrown 14 interceptions. His QB rating is 48.4. That’s a quarterback who would be playing for a four- or five-win team.
As everyone knows, the Seahawks’ defense is on a historical pace for passing yards allowed, but they could start to get better against Wentz. As the weeks have progressed, Wentz’s decision-making has been getting worse. His mistakes have increased. Just about everyone who follows the team wants him to be benched. Pederson won’t do that, but if you go back to 2008, Donovan McNabb was struggling as Philadelphia’s QB like Wentz is now. Then-Eagles head coach Andy Reid gave him a brief benching, and he came back and finished the season strong.
Some have questioned Wentz’s leadership during this stretch, but some of the problems haven’t been just on him. The offensive line has been unsettled all year, and that could give the Seahawks a chance to get some sacks and turnovers on Monday night. Pederson had to scramble this week to fill out the line. Right tackle Lane Johnson announced Friday he’s done for the season because of an ankle injury, and left tackle Jason Peters was playing so bad they moved him to guard.
This could be a good game for Seahawks defensive end Carlos Dunlap. He’s had 3 1/2 sacks in three games since joining Seattle and he’ll be going against Jordan Mailata, who has taken over for Peters at left tackle.
For the season, the Seahawks have 25 sacks in 10 games, only three less than they had last year in 16 games.
Offensive line and quarterback hasn’t been the Eagles only problem. Last year, they were lacking at the wide receiver, and that has continued.
DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery have been hurt to the point they have only a combined four games on the field and 13 receptions, all by Jackson. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, a second-round pick last year who Philadelphia took ahead of DK Metcalf, barely gets on the field now. He’s played in only seven games and has two catches for 45 yards. They have to rely on practice-squaders Greg Ward and Travis Fulgham.
The Eagles’ two-tight end offense hasn’t worked out, either. Zach Ertz has been injured and won’t be able to play against the Seahawks, while Dallas Goedert has spent time on injured reserve – though he will play Monday in his fourth game since returning in Week 8.
ESPN is hoping for a good game, but this one doesn’t look what they expected.
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