Eagles mailbag: Will lack of fans hurt Eagles more than most teams?


This is the time of year the Eagles would normally be holding their OTAs, but the pandemic has thrown a wrench into plans. Instead, the team is having a virtual offseason with hopes of having a regular training camp in the summer. 

So we’re operating here under the assumption that there will be a 2020 season. 

I hope everyone is having a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend. 

To the questions: 

This is an interesting question and one worth contemplating. Because as the scheduled start of the 2020 season gets closer and closer, it seems more and more likely there won’t be fans in the stands. Earlier this week, we talked to Merrill Reese about that possibility.

The Eagles have had a great home-field advantage in recent seasons and if a big reason for that has been the home crowd, then the numbers absolutely say this will hurt the Eagles more than most teams. 

In the last four seasons, the Eagles have the fourth-best home record in the NFL: 

Patriots: 26-6 (.813)
Chiefs: 24-8 (.750)
Ravens: 24-8 (.750)
Eagles: 23-9 (.719) 
Saints: 23-9 (.719)
Vikings: 23-9 (.719) 

But take a look at those same teams on the road: 

Patriots: 240-8 (.750)
Chiefs: 22-10 (.688)
Saints: 21-11 (.656)
Ravens: 17-15 (.531) 
Vikings: 16-15-1 (.516) 
Eagles: 15-17 (.469) 

So the Eagles in recent history have been significantly better at home than on the road. It’s impossible to know how much of that is because of crowd noise, but my guess is a lot. The Eagles have the NFL’s best home defense in points allowed over the last four years; they’re 21st on the road. Crowd noise helps the defense a ton. 

The Eagles have given up an average of 25.0 points per game on the road and just 16.5 at home since 2016. 

I don’t think any big splashes are coming, but I’m not considering signing a veteran running back to be a big splash. I think there’s a good chance that happens. And I’m very convinced this roster is not complete. Howie Roseman would never view the roster in May as being a finished product. But as far as signing or trading for a player who would take up significant cap space, I don’t see it. The Eagles want to carry over as much as possible into 2021. 

It’s a fair question and I know that the sometimes-passive defense from Jim Schwartz really irks fans. The Eagles' blitz percentage (per drop back) last year was 26.8 percent, according to ProFootballReference. That ranked them 19th in the NFL. So, overall, they’re not as hesitant to blitz as you might think. 

But the idea that teams with better cover corners have the luxury to be able to blitz more holds up. If you’re going to send extra blitzers, you better be able to cover on the back end. Having a guy like Darius Slay will help with that. But it’s also fair to question this secondary right now. They have to replace Malcolm Jenkins and their CB2 right now is Avonte Maddox. 

It might seem like I’m simply taking the easy road here, but the answer to this question is Jalen Reagor. There’s no question he has a high ceiling. The first-round pick is a super explosive player with elite speed and jumping ability. He has all the physical tools to become a Pro Bowler in the NFL. 

But like I said when the Eagles drafted him, there’s a certain boom-bust factor with Reagor. I thought some other players — including Justin Jefferson, who went at 22 — have a higher floor. I’m convinced Jefferson will at least be a good pro. He has a higher floor, lower ceiling than a guy like Reagor. But the Eagles were looking for explosion, and Reagor has it. It’ll be up to the coaching staff to get the most out of him. 

Really, though, this entire draft class was built on potential. Davion Taylor in the third round hasn’t played much football, but he’s an athletic freak. And keep an eye on sixth-round OT Prince Tega Wanogho. If he didn’t have a knee injury, he might have been a Day 2 pick. 

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