OK, of­fense, now comes your turn

Goal is to fol­low dom­i­nant show­ing by de­fense with more points, yards

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Nick Fierro

PHILADELPH­IA — Last Sun­day against the New York Jets the Philadelph­ia Ea­gles de­fense turned in a com­plete game.

The unit dom­i­nated from be­gin­ning to end. If not for a trick play run right af­ter a turnover by punt re­turner Corey Cle­ment, the Ea­gles’ 31-6 vic­tory would have been a shutout.

As it is, the win was punc­tu­ated by 10 sacks, three take­aways, two de­fen­sive scores and just 128 net yards for the op­po­nent.

So when will it be the of­fense’s turn? Af­ter all, this unit hasn’t yet had one of those games in which it clicked from the be­gin­ning and just kept go­ing.

No­body is quite sure, but ev­ery­one agrees that the of­fense hasn’t been as po­tent as ex­pected.

In­juries to wide re­ceivers DeSean Jack­son and Al­shon Jef­fery and tight end Dal­las Goed­ert cer­tainly have played a big role. How­ever, no­body is ready to use that as an ex­cuse. Quar­ter­back Car­son Wentz hasn’t been as ac­cu­rate as usual, ei­ther, with a com­ple­tion per­cent­age of just 60.3%, which ranks near the bot­tom of the NFL.

Vic­tim­ized by a league-high 10 drops, Wentz, ac­cord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post, would have a com­ple­tion per­cent­age of 66.1% had re­ceivers held on to ev­ery one. Yet that still would rank just 15th in the league.

What’s more, they’re head­ing to Min­nesota this Sun­day to face the Vik­ings, who fea­ture a de­fense that’s “about as good as you’re go­ing to see in the NFL,” ac­cord­ing to Ea­gles cen­ter Ja­son Kelce.

So per­haps a com­plete-game ex­pec­ta­tion for the of­fense is un­re­al­is­tic at this time.

“I mean, you know, I don’t think [the of­fense has] been ter­ri­ble,” Kelce said. “I think we can def­i­nitely do bet­ter. And ob­vi­ously it wasn’t great last week against New York.

“But it’s not like we’re out there not putting up any points. I think this no­tion that we’re go­ing to go out there and play a com­plete per­fect game ev­ery sin­gle week is a lit­tle far-fetched. These guys are good that we’re play­ing against too, es­pe­cially this week.

“But that’s the goal ev­ery week, so we’ve been work­ing on start­ing off faster, work­ing on try­ing to iron things out. The run game has been there one week; the next week it kind of stalls out. So we’re just work­ing on try­ing to get bet­ter at all facets.”

Wide re­ceiver Nel­son Agholor pointed out how work doesn’t al­ways pro­duce im­me­di­ate re­sults.

“What you put in doesn’t al­ways show it­self right away, but it’s go­ing to show up at the right time,” he said. “And I’ve got a lot of faith that we’re go­ing to keep work­ing and we’re go­ing to cash in soon.”

Putting to­gether a com­plete game, as al­ways, starts with the lit­tle things.

For the Ea­gles of­fense this week, that means not al­low­ing the crowd noise at U.S. Bank Sta­dium to cre­ate false starts, pick­ing up the con­fus­ing blitz pack­ages the Vik­ings throw at op­po­nents, lim­it­ing penal­ties and not forc­ing the deep ball if it’s not there.

Then there’s the No. 1 pri­or­ity: ball se­cu­rity.

Wentz talked about that when asked whether the of­fense has the po­ten­tial to pro­duce mul­ti­ple long scor­ing drives if the ver­ti­cal com­po­nent is taken away, which has been mostly the case since Jack­son was in­jured in Week 2.

“Take care of the ball,” Wentz said. “I know last year that’s some­thing we didn’t do as well against these guys. We were able to move the ball … but we’ve just got to take care of the ball and stay ahead of the chains.”

Coach Doug Ped­er­son ac­knowl­edged this game is just the first of six straight against ex­cep­tional de­fenses. But he too had no an­swer on when the elu­sive com­plete game will come.

“This is a re­ally good op­po­nent,” he said. “It’s a good test. They have a good de­fense, good of­fense, they’re well-coached and they’re a dis­ci­plined group.

“But this is the start of kind of that run you’re talk­ing about for us. If you want to get to where you want to get to at the end the year, these are games that are sort of bench­mark games for us. We need a great game plan on both sides of the ball, re­ally all three phases. Play­ers have to ex­e­cute that game plan.

“We [also] have to han­dle crowd noise this week. It’s a loud, loud sta­dium ob­vi­ously, so it needs to be a great week of prepa­ra­tion. Guys need to be di­aled in.”

And they need to go for the full 60 min­utes. Or longer, if nec­es­sary.

No more long stretches of of­fen­sive in­ef­fi­ciency. That won’t work any­more, re­gard­less of how good a punter Cameron John­ston may be.

MATT ROURKE/AP

Ea­gles run­ning back Jor­dan Howard finds a hole dur­ing last Sun­day’s game against the Jets. Howard will face a test this week against Min­nesota.

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