Not three weeks ago, the Philadelphia Eagles were cruising, relatively speaking. They were coming off four wins in their previous six games, including a thrilling overtime victory over the rival Dallas Cowboys, and had just amassed a 16-3 first-quarter lead against the Miami Dolphins.
Then everything began to unravel—and by everything, we mean everything. Offense. Defense. Special teams. It all came unglued at the exact same time.
All of a sudden, the Eagles are losers of three straight, and it's not like these have been close games, either. They have been humiliating defeats. In the last 11 quarters against the Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, Philadelphia has been outscored 107-34.
|Eagles' Last 11 Quarters|
107-34. Whenever the point differential is that staggering—better than 3-to-1—you can rest assured there isn't any one phase that's to blame.
It's easy to point the finger at the defense after the Eagles surrendered 45 points in back-to-back tilts. The Bucs were able to rack up nearly 300 yards on the ground, while both Jameis Winston and Lions quarterback Matt Stafford went on to throw five touchdown passes against the Philly secondary. There's no question about it—that's inexcusable, and any offense would have its work cut out in that situation.
That being said, it's not as if the Eagles offense has done its defense any favors, either. After jumping out to a big first-quarter lead on the Dolphins, the unit managed just three points the rest of the way, while Mark Sanchez threw a red-zone interception when a field goal would've taken the lead. Against Tampa and Detroit, Sanchez never threatened to keep pace.
Special teams have contributed to the heartbreak as well, particularly against Miami. Caleb Sturgis missed a chip-shot 32-yard field goal in the one-point loss, while a blocked punt led to an easy Dolphins touchdown.
Literally nothing has gone right.
Whenever a team is mired in a free fall like the one in which the Eagles find themselves, it's difficult to find solutions. The defense looks confused, at best, if not lacking confidence or plain old toughness. The offense is overmatched up front and lacks a consistent threat on the perimeter. Special teams have been inconsistent all year. Injuries are beginning to mount as well, stretching a roster that's thin as it is.
Then there's the question of whether Chip Kelly is still the man who can turn it around. With all this losing, there is increasing speculation that the head coach is losing the locker room and could depart at season's end.
If the players are losing faith in Kelly's methods, that might help explain the disastrous showings in recent weeks. And if that is indeed the case, the Eagles may be in for a few more games similar to the last few we witnessed.
The Eagles may get some sort of spark on offense with the return of Sam Bradford, who could be back in the lineup as early as next week. Special teams probably are what they are at this point—something the team just has to live with. As for the defense, its breakdown is difficult to explain, and coming up with a solution will not be easy.
The simple fact of the matter is this team somehow needs to find a way to pull it together in all three phases if there is any hope of snapping out of this funk, let alone winning another game this season. Forget the Eagles making the playoffs—they need learn how to play football again, in all three phases.