Sluggish Starts Are Dooming Underachieving Eagles Offense

The Eagles have three first-half touchdowns this year in five games, and that's inexcusable, it's unacceptable and it's truly mystifying.

After halftime, the Eagles' offense is OK. Not great but OK. They've scored 67 points, 10th most in the NFL in the second half this year.

Before halftime? Only the Browns and Titans have scored fewer points.


Why can't a team loaded with offensive talent, an MVP-caliber quarterback a Super Bowl-champion play caller and a highly regarded offensive line get the darn football in the end zone before halftime?

It's baffling and it's disturbing.

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"It's a great question," Jason Kelce said. "I don't have a concrete answer."

Whatever the reason, the Eagles' offense just looks terrible early in games. The pattern that's repeating is the Eagles dig themselves a hole early and the offense suddenly wakes up and gets into a rhythm and scores points, but - as was the case Sunday - it was too late.

In the second half and overtime, the Eagles have had 29 drives and scored eight touchdowns, along with four field goals. Not great. But not bad. That's 2.4 points per drive

Before halftime, the Eagles have had 28 first-half drives. Here's how they've gone. This is ugly:

TDs: 3
Punts: 15
FG: 4
Missed FG: 2
End of Half: 2
Turnover: 2

That's 1.2 points per drive, or exactly half of what they're averaging in the second half.

On Sunday, the Eagles fell to 2-3 with a 23-21 loss to the Vikings at the Linc. The Vikings led 17-3 at halftime before the Eagles finally got going in the second half, outscoring Minnesota 18-6.

Too late. Not enough. Another loss.

Here's Zach Ertz on the Eagles' ongoing problems scoring points in the first half:

"Just not making plays. Not executing. We get into the red zone, we mess up consistently in the first half and then when our backs are against the walls then we freaking start rolling. We've just got to find a way to start fast. We've preached it. Believe me, we've preached it. We emphasize it during the week. It's talked about. But when the game's on the line to start the game we've got to go. Our team isn't made - no team in the league is made to play from a deficit of 17-3 and our team in particular is definitely not."

The Eagles' 14-point halftime deficit Sunday was their biggest since they trailed the Bengals 19-0 in Cincinnati in 2016, a game they lost 32-14. 

It was their largest at the Linc since 2015, when they trailed the Bucs 28-14 on the way to a 45-17 loss during the grim final days of the Chip Kelly era.

"We definitely start to get into a better rhythm, and groove as the game goes on," Kelce said. "I don't really have an answer as to why the start of the game isn't there. 

"I don't think it's an intensity thing. I think everybody goes out there ready to compete, we're just not in sync. That's really what's killing us offensively."

The Eagles have been outscored 53-33 so far in the first half. The 20-point differential is their worst after five games since 2012, Andy Reid's last year as head coach, and it's their third largest since 1990.

When a team is just not ready, it's a reflection on the coach. The talent is there. The players are there. Every Eagles offensive starter from Sunday with the exception of Jordan Matthews was on the Super Bowl team. 

They know how to operate at a high level. They know how to function.

But there's clearly something missing when the game begins, and it's up to Doug Pederson to figure out what it is and get it fixed.

Very, very quickly.

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