PHILADELPHIA – What’s the mark of a really good football team?
How about nitpicking?
The Eagles are entering their bye week at 6-0, the NFL’s only unbeaten team, and they are scheduled out of it with this murderer’s row at quarterback: Mitchell Trubisky, Davis Mills, and Taylor Heinicke.
The 2022 season is quickly becoming one that could turn special for Philadelphia and betting markets are noticing with Nick Sirianni emerging as the favorite to be the coach of the year and Jalen Hurts now No. 2 in the MVP race behind only Buffalo superstar Josh Allen.
Through the first six games, the Eagles have been versatile authors, outscoring Detroit, gouging Minnesota’s soft zone with the passing game, stifling Carson Wentz and Washington with an overbearing pass rush, running the football down Jacksonville’s throat in poor weather, and persevering during a long road trip to Arizona before finally capping off the pre-bye with a big “expletive you” to heated-division rival Dallas.
“That’s game…F🦅🦅🦅 you”
Nick Sirianni was made for Philly 😂
— Eagles Nation (@PHLEaglesNation) October 17, 2022
All the wins have been a coach’s dream, however, allowing Sirianni to push the nebulous and unrealistic standard of real perfection.
In practicality, one NFL team is regarded as perfect, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, but no one can reach that actual standard and plenty have pointed out the Eagles’ deficiencies during their 6-0 run, starting with the second-half offensive troubles and the all too often special teams miscues.
“There’s always things to work on,” Sirianni admitted on Monday.
And harping on those things at 6-0 is a lot easier than say 2-5, which is where Sirianni was as a rookie coach.
“I actually think that we can be even more demanding and more crazy with what the standard is when you are 6-0,” the coach said. “Being 6-0 is awesome, but [I’m] putting my foot on everybody and asking, ‘Do you like this? Does it feel good? All right, then we’ve got to keep going.’
“We have to dive even harder. It’s not to say you don’t do that when you’re 0-6 or 2-5, or whatever, but it’s just easier to really get after everything because I think there is no feelings involved when you’re 6-0.”
The Eagles are top five in offense (No. 3), defense (No. 4), and scoring differential (No. 2). The film grades from Pro Football Focus say they are the No. 1 team in the NFL.
Peel back the onion and you see some of the areas that need the nitpicking. Philadelphia is No. 21 in run efficacy, No. 15 in run defense, No. 30 in tackling, and No. 27 in special teams play per PFF.
Historic second-quarter dominance has resulted in human-nature lulls in the second half a little too often for the coach.
“You want to finish games,” Sirianni admitted. “There’s no doubt we’ve had good first halves, and the second halves — whatever it is, we haven’t played a complete game in the sense that we haven’t really blown open a game when we’ve had two-score leads.
“We’ve had two-score leads in every game this season. We want to be able to end a game and put it away.”
The bye week is situated a little too early from a conventional way of thinking but the offensive line could certainly use it as Jordan Mailata played through a painful injury against Dallas, both Jason Kelce and Isaac Seumalo have been playing with ankle injuries, Landon Dickerson has been forced to miss reps with a foot/ankle issue and Lane Johnson suffered a concussion against the Cowboys and may have been in danger of missing a Sunday game.
Mailata for one indicated there will be no in-season vacation for him and he will spend his downtime rehabbing to gain more strength and range of motion in his damaged shoulder.
The coaches, meanwhile, will be working on their annual self-scout before turning to Pittsburgh post-bye.
“We’re going to work like crazy this week,” Sirianni said. “[Monday] was all about the game review, Monday night is all about our coaches doing their self-scout projects and other projects I gave them. Tuesday will be us reviewing those, and then we’ll get started with our next opponent on Wednesday.”