5 Things That Will Prevent the Philadelphia Eagles from Making the Postseason
The 2011 season started with so much promise for the Philadelphia Eagles is now just one more loss from ending. Now at 3-5, the Eagles can't afford to lose another game right now as they trail the Giants by three games in the division and two games to potential NFC Wild Card teams, the Falcons and Bears, who have already beat the Eagles and thus would win the tiebreaker over them.
Big name free agents and trades from the offseason have all been utter disappointments. The defense hasn't gotten any better since giving up 35 points to the Falcons in Week 2, and the offense is still turnover-prone despite having an elite running back who hasn't fumbled the ball yet.
This team is unclutch, undisciplined and unable to beat any playoff-caliber teams. Maybe they are still a year away from putting it all together, but for this season they have too many problems to overcome. Barring an eight-game winning streak to finish out the season or a complete collapse by NFC East leading New York Giants, 2011 is a lost season.
1. Wide 9
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When Jim Washburn was hired, there was a lot of hype surrounding his Wide 9 defensive line scheme. It was going to wreak havoc in the backfield. The Eagles were going to rack up sacks against everyone and lead the league in tackles for loss.
Now eight games into the season the Eagles have 22 sacks but also have the 22nd ranked run defense. The Wide 9 has been insanely vulnerable against the run. Jamar Chaney has been a victim in the Wide 9, as he was a promising player during three starts at the end of last season now looks like his job may be in jeopardy.
The Eagles gave up over 160 yards on the ground against the Bears on Monday night, and that was with two fumbles lost by Bears running back Matt Forte. A weak run defense can be a negative of the Wide 9, but a non-existent pass-rush isn't supposed to be. The Eagles failed to record a single sack against the Bears.
The Wide 9 is failing the Eagles. Until they start to stray away from it, more often the defense will continue to get gashed against the run.
2. Eagles Receivers Unreliable
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DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are two of the most explosive receivers in the league. They have combined for 1,109 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Both receivers force opposing defenses to keep their safeties back and defend against the big play.
The problem with both Maclin and Jackson is that they havn't proven to make the clutch catches in crucial situations. Maclin has had two crucial drops on fourth downs that have ended two Eagles fourth-quarter comeback bids and another lost fumble that blew another game against the 49ers back in Week 4.
Both Maclin and Jackson are undersized and aren't your typical possession receivers. When the Eagles have needed them the most, they have either disappeared or folded under pressure.
The Eagles have proven they are capable of blowing out a lesser opponent, but against a good team when the game is on the line, their speedster receivers keep coming up short when it matters the most.
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Michael Vick has been a turnover machine through the first eight weeks. He has thrown nine interceptions and lost three fumbles and has made it through just one game without turning the ball over.
Turnovers have come in the most inopportune times for the Eagles, mainly in the red zone. They turned it over inside the 20 against the Bears on Monday night, while DeSean Jackson also lost a fumble inside his own 10 late in the first half. The Bears turned those two turnovers into 10 points which proved to be the difference in a 24-30 loss.
Until the Eagles can figure out how to better take care of the football, they are going to lose games they should win like they did on Monday night.
4. Inability to Finish out Games
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The Eagles have blown four fourth-quarter leads in their five losses this season. Turnovers, poor play-calling, no run defense and a struggling secondary have all lead to some serious blunders in the final quarter.
You can chalk it up to bad luck, unclutch play, poor play-calling or coaching, but it doesn't matter. In the NFL, you don't get pity points for losing games due to bad luck or questionable calls. Right now the Eagles can't seem to figure out how to finish out games.
Right now any Eagles opponent has to feel good about their chances heading into the fourth quarter if they are within striking distance.
5. Lack of Chemistry
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With the shortened offseason and training camp and a plethora of new talent coming in to town, we knew chemistry was going to be an issue. So far it's been a serious issue with the secondary. Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have not gelled well within the secondary.
Asomugha has struggled in zone coverage, Samuel has been burned inside the 20 and Rodgers-Cromartie has looked awful in all phases of his game at times. The defensive coordinator is still trying to figure out how to best utilize all three players.
Asomugha is clearly best in press man coverage, but Samuel is best in a coverage with help from a safety so he can jump a route at any time. All three corners had rough nights against the Bears on "Monday Night Football."
Until Castillo can figure out how to properly utilize all three players to the best of each player's own individual skill set, the secondary will continue to underachieve.