Which Players Deserve the Most Blame for the Philadelphia Eagles' 3-5 Record?
The Philadelphia Eagles loss Monday night was an embarrassment on the biggest regular season stage in football. The Eagles displayed an uncanny level of incompetence everywhere from missing tackles and being out of position defensively to not being able to block for their quarterback, and even calling a draw play on 3rd and 34 from about the 50 yard line and essentially forfeiting any opportunity to come away with any points on a critical drive.
When you consider what the team did on Monday, the team’s need to even their record and gain some traction in the NFC East, and the situation of their head coach, this loss is arguably the most disappointing since the team’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals in their last NFC Championship Game appearance.
We know the coaching staff has been the subject of a great deal of scrutiny, and rightfully so. We also know that the team’s ownership and management have done nothing to reach out to their fanbase, which is the most passionate and deserving of attention of any in the NFL. And, we know that the Eagles have proven, and may continue to prove to be an underachieving group of misfits. They're a group of big names and underachievers.
Calling out the coaching staff is too easy. I’d hate to be the one to break it to you, but even Bill Walsh couldn’t come on to this team and lead them to a Super Bowl.
A change in coaching is more than likely on the horizon, which is great for fans. However, the players themselves need to be held accountable.
The Eagles’ lack of success is undoubtedly directly the fault of their coaching staff. But, the players have appeared to be disconnected and uninterested. And at the end of the day, they are the ones who are on the field performing. They are the ones who miss hits, don’t block, drop passes, and lazily run routes and cover zones.
This article will highlight which players are most to blame for the Eagles’ current 3-5 record.
Be warned, though: Michael Vick will not be on this list because he has given the team a lead that the defense has blown at least twice (against the Steelers and the Lions), he gets no time to make decisions, and despite all of that he’s managed to put up the numbers he has.
Sure, he could have scored more. But, “could have” doesn’t matter—what matters is what actually happened, and what actually happened is Vick has literally given his team at least two chances to win via a lead on the scoreboard going into his opponents’ final drives, only to see those leads blown.
8. Brent Celek
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This list could arguably end with Brent Celek on top. However, his performance in Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens saves him from a higher place on this list. That’s the kind of performance that is game-changing, and without Celek, the Eagles would be 2-6 at best.
That said, how many times has Stone Hands Brent dropped balls that JV high school players could catch? How many blocks has he missed?
Perhaps his most egregious display of inability to execute came during Monday’s loss in New Orleans when he tipped a ball in the open that was ultimately returned for a touchdown by Patrick Robinson.
Why couldn’t he make that catch? It’s not like the ball wasn’t placed well. You could argue that he was being held, but it’s not like he was being taken out of the play.
Brent Celek has been one of the biggest disappointments on this team, and is likely its most overrated offensive player.
7. Brandon Boykin
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Boykin had a great first few games—especially his breakout against the Ravens. However, he’s regressed dramatically since then.
Boykin sees a lot of time on the field, and maybe he’s just not ready for that.
It’s easy to make excuses for him because he’s a rookie, but he’s been beat pretty bad a few times. Lance Moore took Boykin’s lunch on Monday when he made a spectacular catch on a deep pass despite Boykin blatantly interfering with him. That was man coverage.
Remember the game against the Steelers? I do. On the last drive Ben Roethlisberger attacked Boykin for a huge chunk of the yards the Steelers picked up on their game-winning drive. That was zone coverage.
Brandon Boykin has cost his team with subpar play and a couple of PIs. I’m not saying he’s not that good, because I think he could be a solid starting NFL cornerback in the future. But as for right now, No. 22 has cost the Birds a lot.
6. Jeremy Maclin
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Think about this: When’s the last time you saw Maclin make plays consistently, and not just a few catches for big gains when he was wide open?
Where has Jeremy Maclin been?
On a team that does not have a clear-cut No. 1 option at wideout, for a player whose counterpart is an explosive undersized guy that would be best suited in the slot, Maclin really hasn’t made the most of his opportunities.
When Michael Vick does manage to get more than three seconds to make a play, he needs to be able to look to Maclin to make a play regardless of whether or not he’s wide open, cutting through a zone, or if he’s got a defensive back a step behind him.
Is Maclin not trying, or is he not that good?
5. Dallas Reynolds
Dallas Reynolds is awful. I honestly hate judging offensive line players because what they do is so hard, and I have no idea what it’s like to play on an O-line. That said, it doesn’t take a genius or expert talent evaluator to see that Reynolds’ skills are not of the caliber required to successfully build and sustain a good offensive line.
He is a huge weak link on this team. The only reason he’s not higher on this list is because he was a backup, and what could we really have expected of him? Moreover, it’s not like he can hide behind stellar play from those around him.
4. Nate Allen
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How many times is Allen going to bite on play-action? How many times is Nate Allen going to get burned? How long will it be until the Eagles have good secondary?
Nate Allen has been missing hits his entire NFL career. For a guy who was billed as a big-hitter coming out of college, he’s certainly not shown an ability to even touch opposing ball carriers.
The reason he is No. 4 on this list is a direct result of his performance during the team’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons. In that game, Allen missed a hit on Jacquizz Rodgers that led to a huge gain and an Atlanta score that put the game out reach for the Eagles. Though that play would not prove to be the main reason for the loss, it was a morale killer and it may as well have been the nail in the coffin.
3. Nnamdi Asomugha
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For me, there is nothing better in football than great defense. To be specific, having cornerbacks who can limit the production of opposing receivers is of paramount importance in a passing league. It’s even better to see cornerbacks prevail over receivers because the rules are structured and enforced to give the offense an edge.
If that’s how important it is to have good cornerbacks, think about how much of an impact a great cornerback can be. I’m talking about a shut-down guy, someone so good a quarterback wouldn’t dare look in his direction.
That is what the Eagles thought they were getting when they signed Nnamdi Asomugha before the start of the 2011 season. But that’s not what they got.
Nnamdi’s been good—he’s actually been exceptional at times. However, he takes up 11% of the team’s payroll, and he has drastically fallen short of expectations.
Nnamdi Asomugha might be the most disappointing signing in Philadelphia sports since the Flyers signed Chris Gratton.
Let me know if you want to throw away a No. 24 jersey for me.
2. Jason Babin and Trent Cole
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Last year, Jason Babin and Trent Cole were arguably the most fearsome defensive end tandem in the entire NFL.
Where have they been this year?
Jason Babin has been improving lately, but he’s still not getting sacks, and Trent Cole has been all but irrelevant.
Against the Saints, Cole missed a few hits, but one was a sack that could have been game-changing.
The best players on a team should always play. That said, Brandon Graham has quietly been one of the team’s best players when he’s on the field.
Would a cut in playing time for Cole and Babin light a spark under them? They aren’t that old, but perhaps it’s time to for a little less of these two until they can get their acts together
1. Demetress Bell
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I’m holding Demetress Bell the most responsible for the team’s 3-5 record because he has shown no flashes of ability and/or competence. Furthermore, every time he is on the field, Bell is a liability. The team is better without him.
Any hope to win the game was sucked from me against the Saints when Todd Herremans was helped off the field after injuring his foot/ankle and No. 77 came on to the field to play on Michael Vick’s blind side.
Bell gets beat—bad—by everyone. He is the weakest link on a team whose biggest vulnerability is its offensive line.
Demetress Bell is the biggest part of the reason why the Saints defense looked like the 2000 Ravens.
After suffering through Demetress Bell this season, we should all have a much greater appreciation for offensive linemen moving forward. In fact, we should draft letters to Tra Thomas and tell him we’re sorry we didn’t appreciate him more when he was here.
We should also write a letter to Jason Peters and tell him to get ready for next season and not try to return and risk further injury if the Eagles lose this weekend.