A stadium of 7,500 fans will be waiting for the Baltimore Ravens at Century Link Field in Philadelphia, PA, as they are set to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. For this reason, I sat down with Managing Editor of Bleeding Green Nation, Brandon Lee Gowton.
Check out my answers to Gowton’s questions as well.
1. Carson Wentz, who at one time was discussed as an MVP candidate, looks rough. He’s leading the NFL with nine interceptions. I understand there are reasons out of his control for the struggles but can you give an overview for Ravens fans as to what is going on with the offense and with Wentz, specifically?
“Rough” is putting it nicely! He’s been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league this year. He ranks dead last in passer rating. Pro Football Focus has him graded 29th out of 34 quarterbacks.
On the bright side for the Eagles, Wentz is coming off his best game of the season. His actual performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers was much better than the box score indicates. Wentz was making good decisions and throwing the ball with accuracy, unlike he had been earlier in the season. Wentz is on an encouraging trajectory based on his past two starts.
But that hope could be short-lived if the accuracy issues pop up again. And it’s not like he’s going to get a ton of help if he’s struggling because the Eagles have been hit hard by injuries and/or ineffectiveness when it comes to their offensive line and wide receiver corps.
Again, I was encouraged by what I saw from Wentz and the Eagles’ offense in Week 5. They might be able to build on that progress. Far from guaranteed, though. Need to see it to believe it. I could easily see the offense going back into a funk against a tough Ravens defense.
2. Who is WR Travis Fulgham and why is he playing great football right now?
Travis Fulgham is the best wide receiver in the NFL. This is objectively truly if you go by PFF’s grading system!
But yeah, it’s pretty crazy how he’s come out of nowhere to look this good. The Detroit Lions waived this dude, their 2019 sixth-round pick, back in August. Then the Green Bay Packers claimed him and got rid of him not too long after. The Eagles, who didn’t put a claim in on Fulgham the first time he was waived, only added Fulgham to give them an extra practice body at receiver during training camp. He did some nice things and earned a spot on the practice squad but the team didn’t even immediately use one of their weekly four practice squad protection on him. They only signed Fulgham to the roster because Jalen Reagor, DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Alshon Jeffery were all unavailable.
Fulgham had a big 42-yard touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4. It was hard to know how much to make of that going forward because Fulgham even admitted he lost track of the ball in the lights but Wentz made such a good throw that he was able to still make the play. In Week 5, Fulgham pretty much looked unstoppable against a tough Steelers defense. It was so crazy to see Wentz putting so much faith into a receiver he’s barely even had time to build chemistry with. But it also made sense since Fulgham was able to produce every time his number was called.
The feeling here is that Fulgham isn’t a total fluke. Fulgham caught 18 passes for 20+ yards as a senior, which was ranked second most in his 2019 draft class. He then showed promise with the Lions during the 2019 preseason by logging seven receptions for 147 yards, a 21.0 average. He’s currently at 17.4 yards per reception with the Eagles.
Maybe the Ravens will find a way to shut him down and I’ll look silly for hyping him up here. But I sure wouldn’t sleep on him.
3. The Ravens’ defense has allowed the fewest points of any team, averaging only 15.2 points per game. This Eagles offense has struggled, but what do you think they can do to put points on the board?
The answer is … Wentz to Fulgham all day, baby!
I mean, that’s when the offense has looked its best this year. Why go away from what’s working?
Truth be told, I don’t expect the Eagles to easily move the ball on the Ravens’ defense all day long. It’s crucial for Wentz to take care of the ball and not give Baltimore extra possessions to work with.
This could be a game where the Eagles have to rely on their defense to hunker down while hoping the offense can do just enough to outpace the Ravens’ output.
4. Over the past week I’ve seen heavy criticism of Nate Gerry. So much that some won’t grace him with a name, but rather call him “No. 47.” Will this be another week Ravens’ fans watch Mark Andrews feast?
Nate Gerry has been targeted 23 times for 23 receptions, 267 yards, 4 TDs & a passer rating of 154.6. (per PFF).— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) October 14, 2020
He's one of only two 26 linebackers to have surrendered a catch on every single target (min. 20 att.).
Tight ends have given the Eagles trouble all season long; Philly is surrendering the fourth most fantasy points to that position.
The Eagles might get Will Parks back from injury this week, so maybe his return will allow the Eagles to improve in that area. But until I see otherwise, I’m going to believe this defense is going to continue to struggle with tight ends.
5. The Eagles’ defense has got after the quarterback in 2020, with 16 sacks on the season. Is this due to scheme or specific players?
Both. The Eagles emphasize getting production out of their defensive line. They’ve spent a ton of money and high draft picks on that unit. Especially when it comes to defensive tackle with Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Malik Jackson owning three of the league’s top 20 most lucrative interior defensive line contracts.
The Eagles’ defensive line was a major contributor to their 1.5 wins so far this season. In Week 3 and Week 4 combined, Philly logged 13 sacks and 33 quarterback hits. They absolutely pummeled Joe Burrow and Nick Mullens. Doing the same with Lamar Jackson doesn’t figure to be as easy given his mobility. But the Eagles will be counting on their defensive line to make life miserable for the Ravens’ quarterback.
6. Which players (one offense, one defense) should the Ravens watch for to be the X-factor guys on the Eagles?
On offense, it’s a chalk pick but I have to say Wentz. If he can look more like the guy he did in Week 5 than he did earlier this year, the Eagles have a chance to win the game. If not, the Ravens could easily win in a blowout.
On defense, I’m gonna go with the aforementioned Parks. Not totally clear if he’ll be playing but there’s a chance he could return and help the secondary.