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Malcolm is no longer in the middle | Locked On Eagles

It was a game that showcased a lot of potential for the Eagles on the offensive side of the ball, as Jalen Hurts went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes.
Credit: TEGNA

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles dropped to 1-3 on the season on Sunday after a 42-30 loss to the Kansas Chiefs.

It was a game that showcased a lot of potential for the Eagles on the offensive side of the ball, as Jalen Hurts went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes and arguably the best team of the last two years.

However, the team's third straight loss once again exposed consistent issues on both sides of the ball that have helped result in this early losing streak.

A lot of those issues are taking place over the middle of the field.

The Eagles presence in-between the numbers has been almost non-existent through the first month on offense, and the defense hasn't been able to stop opposing offenses from consistently moving the chains in that area.

For the first time in a long time, Philadelphia has a group of weapons that can thrive after the catch, so it makes sense to utilize the sidelines, screen-game, and quick passes to give these young play-makers opportunities.

It should be their identity on offense.

And while Jalen Hurts took a big step Sunday utilizing the middle of the field more, there is still a significant imbalance in attempts there, compared to the boundary.

This is especially true in the red zone, where the Eagles continue to settle for field goals. The offense had two touchdowns in enemy territory missed due to inaccurate throws by Hurts.

Multiple other touchdowns were called back by offensive penalties.

Those are examples of many other issues that have caused the Eagles to struggle in the red zone. But, the play-calls focused on the boundary is a huge part of why the offense has had to settle for field goals over touchdowns.

Why aren't they throwing over the middle? Do they not trust Hurts to fit passes into tight windows with his arm strength?

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On defense, it has been the opposite problem. 

Teams are living over the middle against the Eagles both through the air, and on the ground.

Defensive Coordinator Johnathan Gannon has the defense playing soft zone coverage more than any team in the NFL. Their focus is on stopping the big plays downfield from happening and keeping things in front of them.

That means the defense has featured both safeties playing deep down-field, keeping the box light. Offenses have been able to sustain long drives with short passing and success in the run game.

It isn't just the defensive philosophy that is hurting the defense. It is the personnel too. 

To make up for that light box, the Eagles need athletes at the linebacker and safety positions.

 They simply do not have the talent at those positions right now to make up for the space given up. They no longer have Malcolm Jenkins roaming the formation.

Will Gannon adjust? Will Howie Roseman finally invest high draft picks on defense in 2022? Will Sirianni trust Hurts over the middle? Will Hurts become an efficient passer in that area?

All these questions will go into the Eagles potentially fixing this issue this season, and in the future.

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