Eagles’ Collapse Just a Warning Sign Thanks to Dallas
Christmas came early for the Eagles as the Dallas Cowboys handed first place back to the Birds, falling 37-36 in a heartbreaking loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Eagles (8-6) still enjoy a one game lead over the Cowboys (7-7) in the NFC East and can clinch the division with a win next week and a Cowboys loss.
While the moral of the story seems to be all’s well that ends well, the Eagles would be smart to realize the bullet they just dodged. Thanks to the consistent inconsistency of Tony Romo, a potentially season-ruining loss for now is just a mere warning sign.
Because the 48-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, did not severely damage their playoff chances, the Eagles now have the opportunity to take a deep look at their inefficiencies heading into two very important games. Chip Kelly and his staff will have to educate the players on everything that went wrong. Kelly himself will also have to take a look at some of his calls and what his team will have to do to make sure they do not lay another egg like they did today.
So now that the smoke has cleared, what should the Eagles take away?
First thing is that their defense is not unstoppable.
It appeared that way the last few weeks. The Eagles defense looked comfortable with the scheme and they were doing a great job of epitomizing the “bend don’t break” philosophy. They broke today.
The Eagles front created little to no pressure. The secondary failed numerous times to get their heads around to make plays on the ball. The linebackers and safety reverted back to missing open field tackles and they allowed a third string running back to score three touchdowns against them.
Despite the ineptitude of the defense, they were not helped out at all by the special teams gameplan.
Kelly refused to be beat by the Vikings impressive return man Cordarrelle Patterson, but their respect for him gave the Vikings great field position throughout the game leaving the defense in horrible spots.
The Eagles must learn that their defense, while improved, is not equipped to stop offenses in a short field. To successfully employ “bend don’t break”, you need some wiggle room to work with. You also can not allow one team’s threat to make you hurt yourself.
The Eagles also have to walk away with the understanding that despite the 48 point outburst, this loss was not entirely on the defense. The offense stalled on too many drives which put the defense back on the field.
Despite scoring 21 points from the end of the third to the end of the game, the offense left too many points on the field in the first half. An absent minded penalty from Nick Foles on a 4th and 1 end around negated an Eagles touchdown early.
Hopefully the Eagles learned that they do not have a mistake free Quarterback in Foles who compounded the mistake by holding onto the ball too long on a several occasions, failing to hit checkdowns and throwing up a lame duck interception on a bomb to DeSean Jackson. The biggest take away on Foles is the more he has to throw, the more his flaws show. The Eagles attack will always be weakened if Foles has to throw 48 times.
Less throws for Foles will equate to more carries for LeSean McCoy. The Eagles newly minted single game rushing record holder backed up his 217 yard performance with a whopping 41 yards on five attempts. Kelly’s reasoning for giving up on the run was the early deficit the Eagles faced, but there is an elite list of backs that you have to utilize no matter what the deficit and McCoy is on that list. The Eagles have to learn the importance of balance. Every defense can defend a one-dimensional offense. If McCoy could break the runs he did last week in the snow, he should have had a field day on turf.
The bottomline is that the Eagles still control their destiny. Win out and they are in. The Birds can breathe a sigh of relief for now. Hopefully they realize they have no more weeks off from this point forward.