Cardinals vs. Eagles: 5 Things We Learned Following Philadelphia's 21-17 Loss
Yikes! A season that started with so much hype and promise now looks to be done after the ninth game of the season. The Eagles fall to the lowly Arizona Cardinals 21-17 in a game that wasn't just a must win, it was a win-or-your-season-is-over game.
The Cardinals were without their starting quarterback, Kevin Kolb, and were forced to start John Skelton, a second-year player who had just three career touchdowns going into Sunday's game. Skelton threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns against a secondary who was supposed to be dominant with three Pro Bowl cornerbacks.
Now the Eagles are 3-6 with two straight tough games against the Giants and Patriots. Even if the Eagles win their final seven games, which seems laughable at this point, they would lose the tiebreakers in the wildcard spot to either the Falcons or the Bears.
It's hard to imagine how things have gotten this bad after a monster offseason. The Eagles have blown five fourth-quarter leads this season. No team has been worse in the fourth quarter and no team has more red zone turnovers (seven) than the Eagles do.
1. Juan Castillo as a Defensive Coordinator Is a Failure
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The decision by Andy Reid to promote his offensive line coach Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator was questionable, at the very least. Former colleagues of Castillo, such as Leslie Frazier and Ron Rivera, spoke very highly of him, so most Eagles fans believed that the move would work out.
The Eagles have been playing primarily zone coverage with three of the best cover corners in the NFL. Rookie safety Jaiquawn Jarrett was left alone on Larry Fitzgerald down the field on far too many plays. Fitzgerald had seven receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Nnamdi Asomugha has played far too much zone coverage and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has played primarily in the slot. Neither player is comfortable in that role. It is a waste of both their talents.
The defense statistically hasn't been horrible. Coming in to Week 10 the Eagles were the 12th overall defense and ninth against the pass. However, when the teams has needed the defense to step up, they have failed every single time, outside of the Redskins game.
I don't believe Castillo has the respect of the team. The defense looks lost at times. After nine games it's safe to say that the decision to make Castillo the defensive coordinator was an epic failure, and it very well could cost Andy Reid his job.
2. The Eagles Need DeSean Jackson
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DeSean Jackson might have gained a ton of leverage in contract negotiations without even playing on Sunday. Jeremy Maclin was held to just six yards after suffering a shoulder and hamstring injury. Steve Smith and Riley Cooper both had great opportunities to prove themselves, but they combined for just 47 yards.
The Eagles receivers had just two plays of at least fifteen yards or more, and none longer than 20. Clearly they lacked the big play without Jackson, and then without Maclin. The offense, without the threat of the big play, is mediocre at best.
Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg failed to get anything going all day against a very average defense.
3. Andy Reid Has Lost the Confidence of the Fans, Maybe the Locker Room Too
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It seems like every decision Andy Reid has made since last April's draft has backfired—from making Juan Castillo defensive coordinator, to the speculation that he was shopping Asante Samuel, to making Casey Matthews his starting middle linebacker after just a couple weeks in training camp, to this entire 2011 season.
Andy Reid is right on the coaching hot seat.
If you polled the Eagles' fanbase right now, at least 80 percent of them would want Andy Reid fired at some point this season. They have every right to feel that way. At 3-6, Eagles fans are standing on the ledge waiting to jump.
Clearly Reid has lost the respect of the fanbase, but has he lost his locker room? Did DeSean Jackson really oversleep? Probably, but it makes you wonder if he still has control of the locker room.
Only time will tell.
4. Michael Vick Is Not Consistnely Accurate
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Michael Vick had one of his worst games of the season, which is saying a lot for a quarterback with 14 turnovers through the first nine games. Vick threw for 128 yards and two interceptions Sunday against the Cardinals.
Vick overthrew receivers at times, and at other times he just didn't trust the open receivers. He never looked like a starting NFL quarterback and failed to figure out the 29th ranked passing defense.
Michael Vick can be the most dynamic player in the NFL, but today he just looked uncomfortable and incapable of sustaining a drive when the Eagles needed it the most. Most of the blame for the Eagles' five fourth-quarter lost leads have to go to Vick.
Vick had chances on the final drive in every loss, minus the two games he couldn't finish against the Falcons and Giants. He doesn't look like he deserves his mega deal he signed this season, and on Sunday he didn't even look like he deserved to be the starter.
5. LeSean McCoy Is Still Great
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Through the first nine games this season, you can only depend on three things from the Eagles. One, Nnamdi Asomugha will not be utilized correctly. Two, the Eagles will blow a fourth quarter lead. Three, LeSean McCoy will score a touchdown.
McCoy set a franchise record with his ninth straight game with at least one touchdown to start the season. He didn't get many touches, just 14 carries and three receptions, but he had 93 total yards and two touchdowns.
McCoy had just one carry in the final 20 offensive plays, which is just insane. The Eagles' best offensive weapon was contained, and it had nothing to do with Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. For some reason Andy Reid put more faith in a struggling Michael Vick than a red hot LeSean McCoy.
Whatever happens with the rest of the Eagles season, McCoy will have a huge year, as long as he stays healthy.