They were coined “the Dream Team,” before the season after adding four former Pro Bowlers in free agency and trading for another. They were the talk of the NFL, the sexy pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The organization said they were “all in” this season and it was immediately billed as a Super Bowl or bust year. Experts were handing the Eagles 11 or 12 wins and another NFC East title.
But dreams are not reality, at least not for this team. It started off well with a 31-13 win over the hapless Rams and looked good through three quarters against Atlanta in Week 2, but Michael Vick was knocked out at the end of the third quarter and Philadelphia went on to blow a 10-point lead in the fourth.
The trend continued at home in Week 3 when the Eagles held a 16-14 advantage heading into the fourth before allowing two touchdowns in a 29-16 defeat to the archival New York Giants. Week 4 was the worst of all as the Eagles were up 23-3 in the second half against San Francisco before inexplicably losing 24-23. And last week’s turnover riddled loss in Buffalo may have been the last straw.
Yet, sitting at 1-4, the Eagles actually are still alive in the weak NFC East. In any other division, the Eagles would have no shot of finishing atop the division. Philly travels to the division-leading Redskins (3-1) and a win combined with a Giants loss to Buffalo would bring the Eagles to within one and a half games of the division lead.
But it’s a must win this week in Washington. Everyone knows this team has the talent. The offense has marched up and down the field, ranking first in rushing yards per game and yards per carry, and third in total yards. The downfall has been the simple things. They’ve committed a league-leading 15 turnovers including two key giveaways at the end of the last two games with the team on the verge of scoring the tying or go-ahead points.
The Eagles continue to shoot themselves in the leg (hey Plaxico) with missed tackles, red-zone failures (what’s new), turnovers and mental mistakes. The fan base is frustrated and angry, and screaming for Andy Reid’s head.
But the situation is fixable. After Sunday’s game, the Eagles get a bye week, then play three straight winnable home games against Dallas, Chicago and Arizona, who are a combined 5-9. The Eagles have historically been a second-half team under Andy Reid. They are 12-0 the week after their bye and are 65-27-1 (.704) in November and December games under Reid. A turnaround is possible, but the team must eliminate mistakes and play 60 minutes of good, solid football.
It’s been one of the most disappointing seasons in Philadelphia Eagles history, but there still is an opportunity to rewrite the ending. It starts (or ends) this week in Washington.