Good morning. The Eagles practice at 12:30 p.m. today, their second session leading up to Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They won't go home after practice, though. The team flies to London this evening. They land in London at 7:25 a.m. local time.
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— Zach Berman
Look around the NFL this season and see how many points are being scored. Four teams are averaging more than 30 points per game.
The Eagles, as you know, are not one of them.
The Eagles were No. 3 in the NFL in scoring last season with 28.6 points per game. This year, they're down to 22 points per game. The defense is getting criticized for letting up leads this year, but the offense isn't giving them nearly enough cushion. The Eagles have failed to score more than 23 points per game in all but one of their seven games.
"I think there's a lot of factors involved in it," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. "Unfortunately, it's not an easy answer and therefore it's not an easy fix. We're focusing on a lot of different areas. In some cases, we had a couple opportunities. We ended up first-and-goal but it's first-and-25 after a penalty, and we end up in a 15-play drive and getting no points. And so, we kind of miss a turn there, if you will, and then have another big screen, 50-yard play or thereabouts and we are in field goal range and that gets called back.
"We feel like we're hurting ourselves in a lot of those cases, falling behind the chains and making it more difficult on ourselves than we need to. Two weeks ago, we did a good job of not doing that and, you know, some of those same problems crept up again the other day, which hurt us."
The Eagles offense not as good as that of Kansas City, New Orleans, the Los Angeles Rams, and New England – the four teams scoring more than 30 points per game. But the Eagles should be in the top third of the league. Instead, they're in the bottom third of the league. There's too much talent – and too good of a quarterback – to struggle scoring that much.
"We'd like to be in that 30 range is where we'd like to be," Groh said. "We know that if we get 25, then we've got a really good chance to win. We are continuing to work on that. We know that's an area that we need to improve on. Nobody is satisfied with the production and the results that we've gotten by any means. Trust me, working hard to try to get it fixed."
Jake Elliott proved how valuable he was last season, but he hasn't been as good this year. Elliott has made 11 of 15 field goals. That percentage is one of the worst in the NFL. Two of the misses have been from beyond 50 yards, but two have been inside 50 yards – including a 36-yard field goal in Sunday's loss that would have affected the outcome of the game. It was windy on Sunday, so that should be taken into consideration. But the Eagles need more from their kicker.
"No concern, quite frankly," coach Doug Pederson said. "The other day it was extremely windy. Our kicker missed; their kicker missed. It's a tough situation. I have a lot of confidence in him. He can hit it from short, he can hit it from long. A lot of confidence in him."
What's going on with the Jaguars? They entered the season as one of the NFL's best teams, but inconsistent play from quarterback Blake Bortles and injuries throughout the offense have hurt them this season. They're scoring 16.6 points per game, which makes it tough to win games. During their three-game losing streak, Jacksonville is averaging 9.3 points per game.
Bortles is back in the lineup after he was benched during last week's game. The Jaguars like using a power running game, but Leonard Fournette has been injured. They traded for Carlos Hyde last week.
Their defense isn't playing up to its standard, either, but the defense is far from a problem. And it's going to be a tough matchup for the Eagles, especially with speed and talent at all levels, headlined by defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
"Their reputation precedes them," Groh said. "They have an excellent secondary, they're strong up front, put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. We have to be able to get the ball out of our hand and spread the ball around and find favorable matchups. We have good players in that huddle and we are confident about their ability to show up on Sunday and make plays.…They have a lot of team speed in general, a lot of team speed. That's one of the reasons why they played in the AFC Championship Game last year. They have an excellent defense. It's a challenge."
When Doug Pederson replaced Chip Kelly, the Eagles kept some of the Sports Science stuff — good eating, sleeping habits et cetera. At the time the Eagles considered themselves ahead of the pack. Is that still the case? I remember the claim was that sound practice of sports science would lead to fewer injuries. So much for that idea? – Richard C., Allentown, Pa., via email
The Eagles still are committed to sports science, with some of the top staff members from Chip Kelly's time with the Eagles still in place. They're not as obtrusive about it, which was one of the complaints during Kelly's time with the team. But they want to remain innovative and using all the information available. Frankly, they should. And the league has become more aware of sports science, too. Most teams are more sophisticated about sleep and nutrition than even in 2013, when Kelly came into the league.