Eagles’ red zone struggles continue to plague offense

By JEFFREY WARNER
Staff Writer — jwarner@highhopesblog.com
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The Eagles red zone struggles may be the most alarming thing to take out of Sunday's loss. (Presswire)

Right now, Houston’s confidence is high after a fabulous defensive performance, shutting out the Titans 20-0. The Texans took RB Chris Johnson out of the game, only allowing five yards on seven carries, but were facing an inexperienced quarterback in Rusty Smith. This is no mediocre offense they are going up against this week, led by MVP candidate Michael Vick and WR Desean Jackson.

The Eagles offense has done an excellent job this season putting up numbers. They have been able to beat teams on the ground and through the air, as they are one of two teams (New York Giants) that are ranked in the top 10 in passing and rushing this season. The Birds are the second ranked offense in the league, putting up close to 400 yards a game and over 28 points a game which is tied for second best in the NFL. The Eagles have not had many problems this season moving the football. It’s just been one factor that has really hurt this team — red zone execution.

The past two games have not gone too well for the Eagles, as they’re a combined 2-10 successfully getting the ball in the end zone from inside the 20 yard line. In that span they had to settle for six field goals, a blocked kick, and a turnover that came last week that shifted the whole momentum into Chicago’s favor. But it has not just been the past two games, the struggles have been there all year long.

The Eagles have been in the red zone 39 times this season. Of those 39 trips, the Birds have managed a total of just 177 points. They have kicked 15 field goals and could only punch it in 19 times for touchdowns. The Eagles touchdown percentage is only 48.7% which is only 19th best in the league. And Coach Andy Reid knows he has the weapons around to get the job done.

“Desean is one of the elite wide receivers in the National Football League,” Reid said Tuesday. “We’re lucky enough to have [WR] Jeremy Maclin on the other side who’s also a very good wide receiver and one of the top in the league. That’s a pretty good combination and then you got [TE Brent] Celek who’s good at what he does and [RB] Lesean [Mccoy] and so on. We just have to learn to execute the play calls.”

It is good timing for Philly to get things rolling again, as the Texan’s defense has struggled all year along, giving up about 26 points a game and over 380 yards of offense. One stat they also have problems defending as well has been the red zone. Houston is the NFL’s fourth worst defense inside the 20 giving up 24 touchdowns which is about 65% touchdowns in 37 trips. But even though the Texans defense has struggled this season, Reid knows he can’t take this unit lightly.

“We have to be on our ‘A’ game,” Reid said. “They give you a bunch of different looks, tough ones. Just have to make sure that you’re sharp.”

Hopefully the Eagles can get back on track fixing their red zone woes because any kind of momentum and rhythm they can get into will be helpful down the stretch as they try to make a push for the playoffs in this tight conference race.

Injury Report….

— WR Riley Cooper missed his second straight day of practice with a hyper-extended knee that he suffered late in Sunday’s game against the Bears. Cooper has already missed two games this season with a concussion

— DE Juqua Parker also missed practiced this week with a hip flexor. Parker sustained the injury a few weeks back and eventually re-aggravated in the injury forcing him to miss last week’s game.

“Both are getting better but aren’t ready to go today and we’ll see about game time,” Reid said.

Rookie DE Brandon Graham has filled in nicely and has really come along since beginning of the season and will get the start in place of Parker, if he can’t go. As for Cooper, if he can’t play, WR Chad Hall would most likely be active for Thursday’s game.

— CB Asante Samuel went through a walkthrough on Monday and Reid said that he will see what he can do on Tuesday. Samuel has missed two games this season for numerous reasons including last week’s debacle where Jay Cutler threw for four touchdown passes. In the two games he has missed, quarterbacks are throwing a 7:2 TD/INT ratio and for 556 passing yards.

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