The Philadelphia Eagles came into Monday night in a must-win situation. The Eagles had a very beatable Chicago Bears team in town and were just one win away from getting back to a .500 record just four weeks after going 1-4 through Week 5, but they couldn't get the job done.
The Eagles did what they had great success with during Weeks 2 through 5. They turned the ball over, they got blown out against the run, DeSean Jackson became invisible and they failed to score in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles will most likely need to win seven of their last eight games in order to sneak into the playoffs as they will lose any tiebreaker against potential NFC wild-card teams, such as the Bears and the Atlanta Falcons.
The Eagles still have a favorable schedule left but will have to get through a tough two-game stretch starting in Week 11 when they face the Giants and the Patriots in back-to-back weeks. There is still a glimmer of hope left in Philadelphia, but after an incredibly disappointing loss at home on Monday Night Football, this is clearly a team hanging on by a thread.
Is DeSean Jackson trying to cash in on a new deal this season? Could have fooled me and anyone else who saw his lack of production Monday night. Jackson finished the night with two catches for 16 yards and a critical lost fumble on a punt return late in the first half that led to a Bears touchdown.
Jackson struggled to get open, and when he did he still managed to drop several catchable balls his way. Jeremy Maclin wasn't much better, as he had a couple of drops and finished with just 63 yards.
We all know how explosive the Eagles receiving duo of Maclin and Jackson can be, but tonight was an example of how a physical defense that is capable of taking away the deep ball can hold them in check without much effort. Dropped passes and the inability to make consistent plays down the middle killed the Eagles offense tonight. It was fitting that the final play was an easy pass dropped by Jackson.
Juan Castillo's defense was coming off two great performances where it held two division rivals to just 20 combined points. This week the defense reverted to its old self as it looked lost at times trying to contain the electric Bears offense.
The Bears ran for 164 yards and Jay Cutler threw for more than 200 yards along with two touchdowns and, most importantly, no turnovers. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie showed a lack of effort at times and Asante Samuel got burned on a fade in the end zone as the Eagles failed to keep the Bears out of the end zone on three of their four trips inside the 20.
Monday night was proof the Eagles can't afford to have an off night offensively. A great performance by the defense in Week 7 against the Redskins is starting to look more like the inability of their offense rather than the improvement of the Eagles defense.
Going forward, the Eagles offense will have to score at least 30 points in every game if they want to compete unless some major improvements are made.
The Eagles are now all alone in the NFL as the worst fourth-quarter team. Monday night made it four fourth-quarter comebacks allowed, and we're only nine weeks into the season. The defense failed to come up with any big plays against Jay Cutler, as he threw zero interceptions and was never sacked.
The defense also committed several boneheaded penalties that kept Bears drives alive, including an obvious pass interference by Nnamdi Asomugha that he didn't need to make and a questionable roughing-the-passer call on Jason Babin after the Eagles stopped the Bears in a critical red-zone stand.
This defense has become incredibly unclutch. It doesn't make interceptions when the team needs it to and it doesn't get sacks when it needs a key stop. Right now this is a defense that is loaded with talent but lacking in both leadership and big plays in the fourth quarter. Until that changes, this team will not be able to win many close games.
Special teams was a major weak link for the Eagles Monday night. Dion Lewis struggled to get past the 20 on all but one of his kickoff returns, DeSean Jackson fumbled away his only punt return, and a fake punt pass by Chas Henry became the difference in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles decided to fake the punt on a 4th-and-6 midway through the fourth quarter. The play was set up perfectly as the Bears were not covering either of the Eagles gunners. Henry had Colt Anderson wide open and had he led him it would have been an easy touchdown. Unfortunately, Henry underthrew Anderson by about three yards and the Bears took over on downs at their 42-yard line.
Add a special teams fake-gone-wrong with a fumbled punt return and very little on kickoff returns, and it was a rough night for the Eagles special teams.
On a more positive note, LeSean McCoy actually had himself another pretty solid night. Despite not getting much help from the offensive line, McCoy ran for 71 yards on just 16 carries and added five catches for 46 yards to make it 117 total yards on 21 touches. He also scored a touchdown to make it eight straight to start the season, which ties a team record Steve Van Buren set all the way back in 1947.
Matt Forte had himself a better game on paper in some respects as he had 150 total yards, but he failed to reach the end zone and coughed up the ball twice and was even benched for a brief time in favor of the aging Marion Barber.
It was supposed to be a showcase of the two best all-around running backs in the league. McCoy didn't have monster numbers like he had a week ago but he still managed to put up solid numbers without a lot of help. McCoy solidified himself as one of the best in the league on a national stage. Only a matter of time until the Eagles front office locks him up for the next seven seasons.