Tag Archives: Ryan Matthews

Eagles-Dolphins Scouting Report

The Eagles (4-4) face the Dolphins (3-5) in the Eagles first one o’clock game since October 11th.  The Eagles are still fighting to stay competitive in the NFC East, where they, the Giants, and the Redskins are currently holding onto hope as they race to the finish line.  The Dolphins, on the other hand, are buried at the bottom of their division behind the Patriots (8-0) and Jets (5-3), and, with a 0-4 record in their division, they currently have the worst divisional record in the NFL.

The Dolphins immediate success after Dan Cambell became the interim head coach in Week 6 turned out to be a mirage because the games they won in convincing fashion were against the Tennessee Titans (2-6) and Houston Texans (3-5).  However, The Dolphins’ success and overall power ranking in the NFL came to a screeching crash when they met their two division rivals, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, the past two games and lost by a combined score of 24-69.

Run/Pass Ratio:  Although the Eagles had an even distribution of running and passing last week, their overall tendency this season is to pass the ball 58 percent of the time against 42 percent running.  The Dolphins pass the ball the third-most overall this season: 64 percent pass against 36 percent run.  However, that tendency has to take into account that the Dolphins did not run frequently until Dan Cambell became head coach for them four games ago.

Pass Defense:   Miami allows a 22nd ranked 97.1 opposing passer rating, with opposing quarterbacks throwing 16 touchdowns against 6 interceptions.  The Eagles allow a 6th ranked 82.2 passer rating, with opposing quarterbacks throwing 13 touchdowns against 12 interceptions.  The Eagles give up an average of 6.9 yards per attempt, ranking ninth in the league, while Miami has given up a 25th-ranked 7.8 yards.  The Dolphins, however, have given up less yards and touchdowns overall to wide receivers.  In addition, both teams rank low in receiving yards given to running backs: (Eagles, 222 yards, 30th) and (Dolphins, 263, 27th).

Advantage:  Eagles

Dolphins Quarterback:  Dolphin’s offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who was the Eagles quarterback coach in Chip Kelly’s first year as head coach, has had trouble developing Ryan Tannehill this season after he posted substantial numbers last year in Lazor’s first season as Miami’s offensive coordinator.  The Dolphins point production has dropped from 24.3 (11th last season) to 21.4 (21st).  Tannehill’s passer rating is down from 92.8 last season to 88.7. He has 13 touchdowns and 9 interceptions this season after just 12 interceptions last season.  He has not thrown a touchdown in the past two weeks after throwing six combined against Houston and Tennessee, highlighting the fact that he is definitely not matchup-proof and can be shut down by the better defenses in the league.

Eagles Quarterback:  Sam Bradford looked more comfortable in overtime than he has looked in high-pressure situations at anytime this season.  The deer-in-the-headlights look was gone, and he seemed confident.  He had trouble once again getting started, though.  His completion percentage (69.4%) was the second-highest of the season, but he also had just 36 attempts.  His one touchdown Sunday gives him two touchdowns over the past three weeks; however, he did not throw an interception for the first time since Week 4.  He is still tied for the fourth-most interceptions in the NFL – with 10 – behind Matthew Stafford (11), Andrew Luck (12), and Peyton Manning (13).  Although Tannehill, with 9 interceptions, is not far behind.  Bradford’s production in the first half of games, 821 yards, is in stark contrast to the second half of games: 1,236 yards. Therefore, I’ll halt in saying that he has turned the corner until he finally shows up at the beginning of a game.

Advantage:  Eagles

Dolphins Wide Receivers:  In the offseason, the Dolphins signed wide receivers DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, along with tight end Jordan Cameron, in an effort to improve their passing offense.  However, it hasn’t worked out quite as planned.  Stills had a good year last season, with 63 receptions for 931 yards with New Orleans, but he is a boom-or-bust type of wide receiver this year – with more busts than boom.  For example, he had a good 46-yard reception Sunday, but his overall production this season (16 receptions, 279 yards) is below what should be expected of a No. 1 receiver this late in the season.  Cameron has had trouble reproducing the output he had in his 2013 breakout season with the Browns (80 receptions, 917 yards), when he ranked among the top tight ends in the league.  DaVante Parker has disappeared from the stat sheets since Week 3, and he is questionable to play against the Eagles due to a foot injury.  Jarvis Landry, who had the most targets against the Bills last week (12) and goes up against an Eagles interior that was just torched by Cole Beasley, may be the most important wide receiver to watch as he has been the most productive wide receiver recently.  Rishard Matthews was a big producer at the beginning of the season and has been producing close to Landry’s output, so he is worth keeping an eye on, too.  Greg Jennings is largely an afterthought.  The Dolphins do not really have a consistent No. 1 wide receiver, and any one of them could produce.

Eagles Wide Receivers:   Bradford targeted Jordan Matthews on 36.4 percent of his routes against the Cowboys, and Matthews had an impressive game, finishing with nine receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown.  The question now, however, is whether he can reproduce that performance again this season.  The last time he had over 100 yards receiving was in Week 1, when he produced 102 yards, and he has not finished a game with more than 59 yards since Week 2.  However, when he had his best game of the season in 2014 – 138 yards and two touchdowns against Carolina – he followed that with 107 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay the next week.  Miles Austin, who had the most receiving yards in the two games prior to Week 9, had just one reception for 27 yards.  Zach Ertz continues to be a good option for Sam Bradford as he saw six targets and caught five for 44 yards.  Josh Huff, however, barely produced (2 receptions, 10 yards), and it’s fair to wonder if he will have a breakout game again this season.  Nelson Agholor did not play against the Cowboys, and whether or not he will play will be important to monitor.  The Eagles don’t have a consistent No. 1 wide receiver, so the production could come from anywhere.  The most important aspect to watch from this position is whether Matthews can have another big game.

Advantage:  Even

Rush Defense:  The Dolphins allowed over 100 yards to both Bills’ running backs last week: Karlos Williams (110 yards) and ex-Eagle LeSean McCoy (112).  Only the Cleveland Browns have allowed more rushing yards per game than Miami (142.1).  The Eagles have allowed an opposing running back to run for more than 100 yards for the second consecutive week, and losing Jordan Hicks for the season, along with the lingering injuries of DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso, and Mychal Kendricks, does not help the situation.

Advantage:  Eagles

Dolphins Running Backs:  Lamar Miller is the clear-cut No.1 running back in Miami, and, since Dan Cambell took over as head coach, Miami has been using him frequently.  Before Cambell took over, Miller had 37 rushes in four weeks, and he never had more than 13 attempts in a game or 53 yards.  In the four weeks after Cambell took over, though, he has 52 rushes combined and two games with over 100 yards rushing.  Against the Titans and Texans, he had two of the best games of his career, but he cooled down considerably the next two weeks, when he faced the Patriots and Bills and ended with a combined 21 rushes for 59 yards.  Where the Eagles have to be careful, though – if they are not going to allow they’re third consecutive 100-yard rusher – is Miller’s ability to move the ball as a receiver.  Last week, the majority of his production came off receptions (7 receptions, 97 yards), and he had only 44 yards rushing.  Miller has seen 18 targets – 12 of which came in the past two weeks when he had trouble rushing – through the four weeks after Campbell became coach, so the Eagles will need to be very cautious about this Sunday.

Eagles Running Backs:  The Eagles averaged 70 yards running in their first four games, but, now, they are averaging 173.3 yards over their last four games and have at least 150 yards in each contest.  That result has come with an ever-changing offensive line.  It’s clearly time to stop talking about who is the lead back between DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews because they are both major and generally equal contributors on the offense.  The only difference is that Ryan Matthews has more yards and touchdowns with a lot less attempts.  Over the past two games, Matthews has 17 rushes for 164 yards and two touchdowns, while Murray has 36 rushes for 148 yards and one touchdown.  However Murray has 8 receptions for 83 yards the past two games, with 6 catches for 78 yards against Dallas.  The Eagles most likely will not change their approach to utilizing the two running backs against Miami.  The only question, though, is where Darren Sproles fits in the mix – if at all.  Sproles has disappeared from the offense since a stand-out Week 1 performance.

Advantage:  Even

Score prediction:  Eagles 27, Dolphins 20

Questions/Comments?  @sean__cumming

10 Takeaways From The Eagles-Dallas Game

1. The Eagles win gave the Dallas Cowboys (2-6) their sixth consecutive loss and their longest losing streak in 26 years.  In 1989, they had a eight-game losing streak that ended with a win in the middle of the season, but then they followed that win with another seven consecutive losses.  They finished 1-15 that year, so, even though they can’t finish that bad this year, they’re likely out of the playoff race.

2.  Heading into the game, the Eagles heavily favored passing in their gameplan.  However, last night, they had 36 passes against 35 runs, and they produced 172 yards and two rushing touchdowns on the ground.  Ryan Matthews ran the ball 11 times, and DeMarco Murray ran 19, so the distribution was similar to how they’ve been used this season.  However, for a team that went into the game passing the ball 59% of the time, a more even distribution was good to see.  The Eagles have 639 yards rushing in their four wins and 334 in their four losses.

3.  The Eagles came into the game being outscored 33-10 in the first quarter of games all season, and that trend continued Sunday night.  The score after the first quarter was 7-0 with Dallas holding the lead, meaning that the Eagles now have been outscored 40-10 in the first quarters of games.  The Eagles did not cross the 50-yard line in the first quarter, and they ran the ball five times against ten passes, but the ground game didn’t get working until the second quarter. When will they get off to a good start again?

4.  Penalties, of which the Eagles had 10 for 70 yards, were a real momentum killer and a key component in Dallas’ game-tying drive that brought the game into overtime.  Defensive pass interference is a very subjective call to make – probably the most subjective penalty in the sport – and the referees were very giving in what they considered interference.  However, they missed a crucial illegal-formation penalty that would have given the Cowboys a longer kick to convert in order to bring the game into overtime.

5.  The Eagles defense allowed Darren McFadden to run for 117 yards, and that total was just the second time all season they’ve allowed a running back to total 100 yards or more.  The only other player to do it was Jonathan Stewart in Week 7.  That means the Eagles have given up more than 100 yards to a running back in two consecutive games after not doing it at all through the first six contests.  Is this a trend we should expect to continue?  Miami’s Lamar Miller is one of the better running backs in the league.

6.  Jordan Matthews is starting to develop a real knack for coming up big in games against the Cowboys, and he was great against the Cowboys Sunday, finishing with 9 receptions on 12 targets for 133 yards and a touchdown.  His 41-yard touchdown reception to end the game in overtime displayed the strength of his character, considering that he had just cost the Eagles five yards on a false-start penalty six plays prior to the touchdown.  What is most important, though, is that he caught 9 of the 12 passes thrown his way because he has dropped a lot of balls recently.  He now has a combined 213 yards and two touchdowns in two games against Dallas this season.

7.  Jordan Hicks’ 67-yard interception return for a touchdown that broke a 14-14 tie and pretty much saved the season, combined with the fact that the rookie is becoming the quarterback of the defense, has qualified him as the Eagles best defensive draft pick by Kelly.  In fact, Kelly’s best overall pick so far would be a three-way contest between Jordan Matthews, Hicks, and Lane Johnson.  Heading into the Week 9 contest, Hicks, the third-round rookie, ranked among the top players in the league in solo tackles (37), despite playing only six games against seven or eight for every other player ranked above him except one.  After last night, he is now tied for the ninth most in the league with 43.  Hopefully the injury he suffered to his pectoral muscle will not be too serious because Hicks is really talented and needs to be playing.  He will have a MRI today, and the results will tell how the team will handle him going forward.

8.  Speaking of rookies and draft picks, as of last night’s game, the Eagles are still getting little to nothing in return for their first-round draft picks from the past two years.  2014 first-round pick Marcus Smith still hasn’t figured a way to contribute in any way other than special teams, and the fact that he is a long-shot to become a part of the defense is becoming an ever-present reality.  When the Eagles coaches made the decision not to use Vinny Curry as an outside linebacker after the bye week, the general thinking was that Smith could have an opportunity to fill the role.  However, he played 17 special-teams snaps against the Cowboys and nothing more.  Connor Barwin (94% of defensive snaps) and Brandon Graham (78%) seem locked as the primary outside linebackers.  But, can Smith become a part of the defense at some point?

9.  Caleb Sturgis came up big for the Eagles when they needed him most and hopefully put his early-season struggles behind him.  The Eagles have had a lot of let downs from kickers over the past two seasons as kickers have failed to convert in tough situations, but Sturgis’ 53-yard field goal that gave the Eagles a 27-24 lead with one minute, 51 seconds on the clock was spectacular.  Sturgis has not missed an extra point after missing one in each of his first two starts with the Eagles.  He has converted 10 of 11 field goals in the past four games, including 2 of 3 field goals of 50 yards or more and 7 of 9 from 30 yards or greater.  Having a trustworthy kicker is invaluable, so hopefully his streak and clutch playing can continue.

10. The Eagles (4-4) are still in the playoff race in the NFC East and only half a game away from the Giants (5-4), whom they will play in the last game of the season. The Giants beat Tampa Bay yesterday, 32-18, but they now play the seemingly unstoppable Patriots, so a win is most definitely not a guarantee.  The Patriots just dismantled the Redskins yesterday, 27-10, so the Redskins (3-5) are currently third in the division and play the newly-rejuvenated passing offense of the New Orleans Saints.  The Eagles face the Dolphins, who lost 33-17 to the Bills on Sunday after suffering a 7-36 pummeling by the Patriots two weeks ago.  The NFC East is up for grabs; the Cowboys are pretty much out of the race, and the Giants and Eagles are the current frontrunners.  The division is sure to be to be a race to the finish line.

Questions/Comments? Follow me: @sean__cumming

Eagles-Cowboys Scouting Report: Previewing the NFC East Showdown

The Eagles and Cowboys meet for the second and last time in the regular season, and the game will impact who makes the playoffs in a division that is still up for grabs.  This contest is a chance for the Eagles to put the nail in the Cowboys’ coffin, while the Cowboys hope to halt a five-game losing streak that started after their Week 2 win against the Eagles.  The showdown between the Eagles and Cowboys is always one of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL, and, as such, this game should be a battle to the end.

Run/pass ratio:  Both teams favor passing over running, but the Eagles have a much greater tendency to pass the ball than run.  The Eagles currently pass the ball 59% of the time against 41% rushing while the Cowboys pass the ball 53% of the time against 47% rushing.

Pass Defense:  Both defenses are relatively similar in overall passing yards allowed, but Dallas has given up 116 less yards through seven games: Dallas (1,638) and Philadelphia (1,754).  The discrepancy, however, is in how many of those yards are allowed to wide receivers, and Dallas has the distinct advantage in that statistic.  The Eagles have given up the 12th most yards to wide receivers (1,338), while Dallas has given up the third fewest (971).  That gives the advantage to Dallas’ secondary; however, it also displays that the Cowboys have had difficulty covering receiving running backs as they have given up the 7th most receiving yards to running backs.  In addition, the Eagles have the more opportunistic defense, with a league-leading 19 takeaways against 4 for Dallas.

Advantage: Cowboys

Cowboys Quarterback:  Matt Cassel is a severe downgrade from Tony Romo, who broke his clavicle in Week 2 against the Eagles when rookie linebacker Jordan Hicks sacked him.  Romo is expected to come back for the Cowboys Week 11 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, but that may be too late to save the season if they don’t win Sunday, considering that Cowboys quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel have a combined 0-5 record in starts in his absence.  Brandon Weeden was subpar in replacing Romo in every game except against the Eagles, and Matt Cassel does not seem to be a noticeable improvement.  Last week, despite the defense giving him multiple opportunities to put up more than 12 points against Seattle, Cassel could not capitalize, and his final drive made him look like a rookie decision-maker.  In two starts with the Cowboys, Cassel has one touchdown against three interceptions, and, last week, Cassel completed 13 of 26 passes (52%) for 97 scoreless yards for a team that currently ranks 24th in the league in passing yards.  Against the Giants he threw for 227 yards, but his three interceptions took away what could have been a decent day.  Strangely enough, though, Matt Cassel has thrown for over 300 yards once in the past three years, and that was against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013.  Regardless, Cassel should not be a major threat against the Eagles secondary as he appears to be severely struggling to pick up the Cowboys passing concepts currently.

Eagles Quarterback:  Sam Bradford has continued his early-season struggles, and he seems to be laboring to find his identity as the quarterback on the team.  Eagles receivers have been dropping a lot of his throws, sure, but Bradford has not really displayed the ability to overcome those obstacles, and his accuracy is rarely stunning.  A recent analysis on him stated that one of the main causes of dropped balls comes from the fact that Bradford is throwing into areas where Eagles wide receivers fear they’ll take a hard hit, and this fear of ending up in a hospital bed causes them to flinch and drop the ball at the last moment.  Even though the Eagles receivers have a league-high 25 dropped passes this season, Tom Brady dealt with 11 dropped passes in Week 7 alone and was still able to throw for 355 yards and two touchdowns.  To ensure Bradford’s future success, the Eagles need to find a way to even out their tendency to pass the ball so much, ideally moving closer to a 50/50 share of run/pass, and maybe that can limit the mistakes Sam Bradford makes.  Bradford has thrown nine touchdowns against ten interceptions and has more than one interception in four of seven games but multiple touchdowns in only two.  If he can get the offense going in a solid rhythm following the bye week, though, he is still viewed as the favorable quarterback over Matt Cassel.

Advantage: Eagles

Cowboys Wide Receivers:  Dez Bryant, despite starting last week for the first time since September 13th, played 80 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.  However, even though his volume was plentiful, his production (2 receptions off 6 targets for 12 scoreless yards) was underwhelming.  However, he will be more accustomed to playing with Matt Cassel and, as a result, presumably more of a threat to the Eagles.  Bryant did not play in the first matchup against the Eagles, but he has a history of posting big numbers against the team.  The last time he faced the Eagles, he had six receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns; and, in the past three years, he has posted 35 receptions for 581 yards and 7 touchdowns in 6 games, matchups in which the Cowboys have won 4-2. Terrance Williams led the Cowboys with 4 receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown the last time the two teams met, but, even though he is a player whom the Eagles must watch, he does not play at the same talent level as Bryant.  Thus, how the Eagles deal with Bryant, if he is fully healed, will be extremely important in determining the outcome of the game.  The other factor to be considered, though, is that the Eagles secondary leads the league in takeaways, so, against a turnover-prone quarterback, they have an advantage.

Eagles Wide Receivers:  The Eagles are still waiting for Nelson Agholor to have his breakout game, and the general hope in Philadelphia is that it occurs sooner rather than later.  The 2015 first-round pick’s production this season (8 receptions, 108 yards, zero touchdowns) is at – or, even below – what an elite receiver produces in one game.  Jordan Matthews has had two weeks to work on fixing dropped passes, so the Eagles hope he can become the No. 1 receiver that everyone projects him to be.  Surprisingly, though, over the past two games, Miles Austin, the 31-year-old ex-Dallas Cowboy playing in his first year with the Eagles, leads the team in receiving yards (112) followed by tight end Zach Ertz (106).  Jordan Matthews, in comparison, has 73 yards in the past two matchups, while Josh Huff and Darren Sproles have 24 and 34 yards, respectively.  Riley Cooper did not play against the Panthers, but he had 76 yards against the Giants and the Eagles only touchdown in the past two games.  The Eagles sorely need more touchdowns from their wide receivers.  Deciding who will be the Eagles leading receiver in any game is a shot in the dark, but Ertz and Austin will be interesting players to watch going forward based on their success before the bye.

Advantage: Even (unless Dez Bryant looks healthier than last week)

Run Defense:  The Eagles have allowed only one running back to rush for at least 100 yards: Jonathan Stewart in Week 7 with 125.  Aside from that performance, the most yards produced by a running back against the Eagles was Atlanta Falcons’ now backup running back Tevin Coleman with 80 yards in Week 1.  The Cowboys, as well, have allowed only one 100-yard rusher all season, and it was Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman in Week 3.  The Cowboys defense, like the Eagles, has been stingy in every other game in between.  Therefore, running the ball should be difficult for both teams.

Advantage: Even

Cowboys Running Backs: The Cowboys are averaging 127.9 rushing yards per game this season, ranking sixth in the league.  They are now running the ball almost entirely with Darren McFadden over the past two weeks and just released Joseph Randle, who is second in the league in yards-per-rush (5.18) among running backs with at least 100 carries since 2014.  Randle suffered an oblique strain and lost his starting position two weeks ago in the Giants game, and, recently, the team released him after he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.  In his absence, they signed Trey Williams, a 2015 undrafted free agent from Texas A&M, off the Redskins practice squad.  However, it is hard to see him, Christine Michael, or Rod Smith taking too many snaps away from McFadden.  Regardless, Williams could be a surprise for the Eagles to keep an eye on in the backfield.  McFadden had ten rushes for 31 yards when he played the Eagles in Week 2, but his role has changed drastically since then.  He has had 49 attempts in the last two weeks compared to 37 in the first five games.  He had a good performance against the Giants two weeks ago, with 152 rushing yards and a touchdown, but, last week, he was held to 64 scoreless yards by the Seahawks.  Therefore, stopping the run will largely include stopping McFadden, and, if the Eagles can stop McFadden, it’s hard to imagine Cassel winning the game for the team.

Eagles Running Backs: The Eagles are averaging a 15th ranked 114.4 rushing yards per game this season, and their average run, 4.2 yards, is only slightly below Dallas’ 4.5.  The discrepancy, however, lies in how the Eagles’ average yards vary between Ryan Matthews and DeMarco Murray.  Matthews has 56 carries to Murray’s 88, but Matthews has 342 yards against Murray’s 307.  Moreover, Matthews is averaging 6.1 yards per attempt to Murray’s 3.5, and, to put that into an even larger context, Matthew’s 6.1 average led the league heading into Week 7, slightly edging Todd Gurley (6.0 before his Week 8 matchup), who is becoming one of the best running backs in the league.  Matthew’s production created a media storm following the Eagles into their bye week regarding whether Murray or Matthews should be the starter, and, in response, it’s difficult to tell who will be the lead back, but it will be one of the most interesting factors of the game to watch.  Murray has become somewhat predictable with the runs on which he gains the most yards and has had difficulty running the outside zone.  In fact, DeMarco Murray averages 2.7 yards per carry when running over tackles or around the edge but 4.5 yards running behind the guards or up the middle.

Advantage: Even

Final Analysis:  The Eagles cannot lose a game after a bye week – with two weeks to prepare – for a backup quarterback.  The Cowboys defense will keep the game close, but I believe Matt Cassel will not be able to bring his team to victory when the game becomes a shootout in the end.

Score Prediction: 20-14 Eagles win

Questions/Comments?  Follow me: @sean__cumming

Philadelphia Eagles: Pressing Questions For The Bye Week

The Eagles (3-4) enter the bye week with several pressing questions after a deflating loss to the Carolina Panthers.  What should the Eagles be asking themselves?

1.  Who is making the running-back decisions?

So, Chip Kelly has control of just about everything the Eagles do, from general-manager duties to playcalling on game day – except, of course, the running back rotation?  …Really?  How did that decision work out?  How and why does someone who wants so much control within this organization allow another person to decide his running-back rotation?  The question is pressing because the Eagles coaching staff made several controversial decisions regarding their running-back rotation – specifically the use of Ryan Matthews – against the Panthers.

In the second quarter, Matthews had a great 22-yard run, but he was not used again until 20 plays afterwards.  Then, in the third quarter, Matthews once again breathed life into the Eagles struggling offense by scampering around the defense for a 63-yard touchdown run, the Eagles only seven-point conversion of the night.  However, after sparking the offense, giving it some semblance of momentum, he had just one carry the rest of the night.  That’s right, one!  What were they thinking?

When Chip Kelly was asked why Matthews did not receive the ball more, his first answer was that ex-Eagles running back Duce Staley, now the running-backs coach for the team, is in charge of setting the rotation, effectively shifting the blame for not utilizing Matthews away from himself.

Ok, well, in that case, then, what is Staley thinking?  After Matthews’ 63-yard touchdown run, the Eagles had the ball on the 13-yard line for their next drive, but, once again, they didn’t look towards Matthews and instead ran the ball three times with DeMarco Murray for a grand total of one yard.

Later, Kelly offered another reason for underutilizing Matthews, stating that Matthews hurt his groin on the 22-yard run prior to his 63-yard touchdown run.  Whatever the truth is, fans are trying to figure out what’s really going on with the backfield, and the team is going to have to look into how it utilizes its three running backs during the bye.

Will Matthews get more carries after resting his stated injury during the bye week?  It’s impossible to know what Chip is thinking.  However, the real question is why a coach so intent on having final decisions in just about everything is letting someone else decide the running-back rotation.

2.  What is the cause of all these penalties?

Penalties destroyed any chance the Eagles had to build momentum in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Panthers. In the first half alone, they had six penalties for 41 yards, and most of them were costly.  Lane Johnson had a false-start penalty that gave them a 3rd-and-11 to convert on their first drive of the night.  Najee Goode had a 15-yard personal-foul penalty on a Panthers kickoff return that moved the Panthers from the 13-yard line to the 28, and the Panthers scored a touchdown on that drive.  Jason Kelce negated a crucial 10-yard run by DeMarco Murray while the offense was struggling to build cohesion at the beginning of the game.  Two consecutive encroachment penalties by Bennie Logan moved the Panthers from 2nd-and-goal from eight yards away to 2nd-and-goal on the two, and Cam Newton easily ran the ball in from two yards away.  Caleb Sturgis’ illegal-procedure penalty from kicking the ball out of bounds on another kickoff gave the Panthers an opportunity to start that drive on their own 40-yard line.  Sam Bradford and Co. almost had a delay-of-game penalty in the second half that made them use a timeout they sorely could have used when attempting to make a comeback at the end of the game.

Whether the penalties are due to careless mistakes or the outcome of bad coaching is what the Eagles need to figure out – quick! They cannot be as penalty-prone when they come out of the bye.

3.  Why is Jordan Matthews dropping so many balls?

Jordan Matthews has dropped six passes in 7 games, and many of them have come in crucial moments.  Les Bowen, Eagles sports writer for the Daily News, recently wrote in an article that “Jordan Matthews suffered a hand ligament injury three weeks ago.”  He also wrote that “fans who met Matthews at a recent appearance said his hand was swollen, and he did not shake hands.”  If this is the case, I wish the team would let fans know because it’s getting frustrating to watch the dropped balls without really knowing what’s going on behind the scenes.  Matthews’ snap counts have dropped significantly in the past two weeks, and that factor could be a telling sign of an undisclosed injury, too.  Whatever the cause, though, this team needs to come out of the bye with an answer for all the dropped balls.

4.  Why are the Eagles not capitalizing on turnovers?

The Eagles lead the league in takeaways with 19, and they have three consecutive games with three turnovers, an amazing feat that should equal more than three wins in seven weeks.  Moreover, against the Panthers, three separate players in the secondary had an interception.  Nolan Carroll stripped the ball from Ted Ginn for an interception early in the game.  Malcolm Jenkins’ interception with one minute, five seconds left in the second quarter gave the Eagles the ball on their 40-yard line with a chance to score before halftime.  Byron Maxwell had a great interception off a deflected ball that he took 25 yards to the Panthers’ 18-yard line.  However, the Eagles could do no better than two field goals off their opportunistic takeaways.  The defense cannot keep bailing out the offense without the offense putting in it’s share if the Eagles want to go anywhere this season.

5.  How long will kicker Caleb Sturgis remain on the team?

Sturgis had another mediocre day kicking against the Panthers.  He started the game out completing a 52-yard field goal, but, on the following kickoff, he booted the ball out of bounds, a blunder that gave Carolina the opportunity to start their drive on the 40-yard line.  He converted three of four field goals in the contest, but he missed a crucial 50-yard kick in the fourth quarter that would have made the score 19-21 with 11 minutes, 58 seconds left in the game.  The other aggravating factor about the failed field goal is that, before Sturgis’ miss, Bradford called a timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty.  Therefore, they wasted their timeout for zero points from a missed field goal.  Sure, losing the timeout wasn’t Sturgis’ fault, but his lack of consistency has to make the Eagles at least look at finding someone else to kick when they come out of the bye.  A more consistent kicker has to be out there somewhere.

Questions/Comments?  Follow me: @sean__cumming or email at: seancumming3@gmail.com