Philadelphia Eagles: If Alshon Jeffery’s out, Philly has to steamroll Detroit

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

If the Philadelphia Eagles are going to defeat the Detroit Lions without DeSean Jackson or Alshon Jeffery, they need to adopt a tireless commitment to running the ball.

The Detroit Lions may be one of the hardest teams to judge in the NFL this season.

After looking pretty bad in 2018 – bad enough to pick eighth overall in the draft – the Lions are surprisingly 1-0-1 over the first two weeks of the 2019 season, with no clear flaw across the board.

With three receivers having amassed at least 100 yards in Kenny Golladay, T.J. Hockenson, and Danny Amendola, and a fourth, top target Marvin Jones a mere yard away, new OC Darrell Bevell has made career underachiever Matthew Stafford look competent, good even; like the kind of quarterback worthy of being drafted first overall.

More from Philadelphia Eagles

And defensively, Matt Patricia‘s unit has looked even better.

With a trio of solid cornerbacks in Darius Slay, Rashaan Melvin, and recent slot signee Justin Coleman, the Lions have only had opposing one receiver to earn more than 100 yards through the air.

But in the trenches, the Lions have been ever so slightly exposed.

Over the first two games of the season, the Lions have allowed over five yards per carry to opposing rushers while giving opposing team’s 61 minutes and 56 seconds of offensive action. While the team has yet to surrender 100 yards to any individual rusher – the closest being David Johnson at 88 yards on 18 carries – the team has been unable to consistently stop opposing coordinators from dictating the pace of play on the ground.

This is where the Philadelphia Eagles need to capitalize to make up for the absence of DeSean Jackson and (probably) Alshon Jeffery on the outside: they need to the ball.

Now granted, this is a whole lot easier said than done, as the Eagles’ lead rusher, Jordan Howard, only has 42 rushing yards on 14 carries, but after an ugly loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Doug Pederson could use establishing the run as an ego booster to facilitate a Week 3 rebound.

They just need to stay committed to keeping the ball on the ground.

Despite having a fairly balanced offensive assault so far this season – only running the ball four fewer times than they’ve thrown it – the Eagles have largely viewed running the ball as a chore, as opposed to a dedicated strategy to keep win the time of possession battle and keep the clock moving in their favor.

I mean at times, Pederson has looked downright disappointed on the sidelines before an ill-conceived Miles Sanders outside run – and why wouldn’t he? Pederson played quarterback for the majority of his adult life, and like most quarterbacks, he doesn’t like putting the ball on the ground and deferring to a less flashy run play.

But much like eating veggies as a kid, Pederson sometimes has to accept that he can’t win the game on his own terms.

Next. Howie Roseman got great value for Lamar Jackson. dark

While things could seriously change if Melvin is demoted from questionable to out, or if Greg Ward takes his NFL debut by storm and amasses a plurality of the team’s receiving yards, it looks like the Philadelphia Eagles’ best chance to defeat the Detroit Lions in a low-scoring, knock-down, drag-out slugfest propelled by a hammering run game. After getting hit 14 times over the first two games of the season, it may be wise to minimize the Carson Wentz‘s time facing Matt Patricia’s blitz-happy front.