On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ take on the Philadelphia Eagles. To help preview a few topics from Philadelphia’s perspective, we reached out to Brandon Gowton from Bleeding Green Nation and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “The Eagles at 3-5-1 would currently be a playoff team, while the Browns at 6-3 would not be. Looking at the stats, the Eagles’ running game seems to be really good. Tell us about Philadelphia’s running game this season and if it is the focal point of the offense.”
Brandon: “I’m getting the sense you wish the Browns were the NFC East! Hey, I wouldn’t mind that. This Eagles team that ranks 29th in DVOA and 22nd in point differential certainly doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs.
The running game has certainly been efficient; Philly actually ranks tied with the Browns for 5.1 yards per rush attempt. But the Eagles haven’t really run the ball with enough frequency. Doug Pederson’s offense ranks 30th in rushing play percentage. Miles Sanders hasn’t been getting the ball enough.
The #Eagles are historically uncommitted to Miles Sanders despite his success.— Joe Dolan (@FG_Dolan) November 19, 2020
Per @NFLResearch, he's the first RB since Brandon Jacobs in 2010 to run for 80 or more yards on 15 or fewer carries in three straight games.
No back in history has ever done so in four straight.
Ideally, it shouldn’t be the focal point of the offense. Carson Wentz should be. But him struggling so much, the Eagles should be looking to rely more on their running game than they currently are. ”
Chris: “Carson Wentz has 12 touchdowns to 12 interceptions this year. What has been Wentz’ biggest issue in 2020? Not having receivers? Playing from behind? When are the interceptions happening?”
Brandon: “His biggest issue has been … everything. He’s been awful across the board. Poor accuracy. Bad decision-making. Turnovers galore.
His supporting cast hasn’t been amazing, no. And the coaching staff certainly hasn’t been amazing. But that doesn’t excuse him from being one of the NFL’s very worst starting quarterbacks. The Eagles aren’t paying Wentz $128 million for him to only be good when everything is perfect around him.
In general, his interceptions have been a result of forcing things. Just not playing smart. The fumbles have been an issue for him throughout his career.”
Chris: “What is the Eagles’ biggest weakness defensively?”
Brandon: “The Eagles have some of the least talented starting linebackers in the NFL. That’s been a big issue.
Not unrelated to that, the Eagles have been TERRIBLE at stopping non-running back runs. If I’m the Browns and I’m looking for a big play, I’m finding a way to get my wide receivers or even Baker Mayfield on the move against this defense. The Eagles gave up an 80-yard run to Daniel Jones a few weeks ago and he just had a 34-yard touchdown run last week. They’ve been unable to stop wide receivers on jet sweeps and the like. Easy way to move the ball against this defense.”
Chris: “The Eagles rank 32nd in the NFL in sacks/per pass attempt on offense. Which offensive linemen have had the biggest issues?”
Brandon: “The entire offensive line has been in flux this year; the Eagles have approximately used eleventy billion different starting offensive line combinations. The sacks just aren’t all on them, though. You also have to blame Wentz for holding on to the ball for too long.
When it comes to this week’s matchup, the Eagles should be concerned about Jason Peters as he goes up against Myles Garrett. Recently, Peters hasn’t been as awful as he was earlier in the year. But that could change with Garrett eating his lunch.
Elsewhere, Jason Kelce is coming off a really bad game with three awful snaps to the quarterback. Not used to seeing that since Kelce has been an All-Pro each of the last three years. But maybe he’s finally hitting his decline.”
Chris: “Tell us about one player on offense and one player on defense who Browns fans might not be familiar with, but who could make a nice contribution for this week’s game.”
Brandon: “On offense, keep an eye out for Travis Fulgham. He was actually leading the NFL in receiving yards since Week 4 heading into last week’s game. The Eagles failed to adequately get Fulgham involved against the Giants so one would hope they’ll make a better effort to force feed him in Cleveland. Fulgham isn’t the fleetest of foot but he’s found a way to get open and use his size to his advantage. He’s been especially effective as an intermediate option in the passing attack.
On defense, I have to go with Brandon Graham. He shouldn’t qualify as an under-the-radar guy but I’m picking him because he’s like the one guy on defense you can count on to consistently show up every week. Graham is having a Pro Bowl caliber season for the first time at age 32. I could see him forcing Baker Mayfield into a turnover or two.”
Thanks again to Brandon for taking the time to answer my questions.