The Philadelphia Eagles had a chance to take control of the NFC East on Saturday night. Instead, they came through with yet another dud, showcasing many of the same problems that have plagued them all year long.
With the 38-24 loss to the Washington Redskins, the Eagles fell to 6-9 on the season while being officially eliminated from playoff contention. The defeat highlighted some major issues on both sides of the ball as well as some little mistakes that add up to a big loss. What is left is a lost year and many question marks throughout the organization.
ESPN's Kevin Negandhi summed up most of the problems during the game:
This is how a team turns 398 yards from scrimmage into a disappointing offensive effort. While quarterback Sam Bradford threw for 380 passing yards on his own, imagine how successful this team could have been without a few overthrown passes and numerous drops from seemingly everyone on the roster. The throws weren't often down the field—only one of the 37 completions went for more than 20 yards—but the few opportunities for big plays were wasted while being off by inches each time.
When the players were able to catch the ball, they didn't always hold onto it for long. The team lost two fumbles—one returned for a touchdown—and saw many more balls fall on the turf before fortunately recovering them. Add these to avoidable penalties, and it was a day full of small mistakes adding to big problems.
These types of issues have hurt the team all year long. Whether it is a lack of talent or just a lack of focus, a small improvement in these areas could go a long way in regards to winning games.
Not all of the problems are minor, though. The defense has a lot of good players, but it has been downright terrible for much of the season. Including Saturday, the unit has allowed at least 38 points in four of the last six games. That isn't going to lead to too many wins.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox helped anchor a solid run defense earlier in the year, but now it is way too inconsistent to trust. Meanwhile, 34 passing touchdowns allowed—including four by Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins in Week 16—is a major indictment on both the pass rush and the secondary.
Washington also marked the sixth team in a row to top 400 yards of offense against the Eagles.
There are a lot of holes that need to be addressed on that side of the ball in the offseason, with secondary depth likely being a priority.
A retooled offense hasn't been any better with new acquisitions DeMarco Murray, Bradford and others all failing to live up to expectations. The loss to the Redskins also featured some terrible play by the offensive line.
There was little room to run (only 2.8 yards per carry) while the quarterback was under pressure all night long. Bradford was sacked five times, hit nine times and had one terrible intentional grounding where he had no chance to make anything happen.
Considering offense was where Chip Kelly was supposed to shine, these struggles have led to many questioning the head coach's future within the organization, including Pete Prisco of CBS Sports:
When asked about the struggles, though, Kelly wasn't ready to pass the blame to anyone else, per John Clark of CSN Philly:
It's good for a coach to take the responsibility when things aren't going well, because he is the face of the organization, but calling for him to be fired might be a bit of a rash decision. While this year certainly was a disappointment, it's important not to forget Kelly led the Eagles to double-digit wins in each of the last two seasons. His offenses were also in the top five in both yards and points scored both years.
The system can work with the right personnel making plays. If Kelly can't find them, the organization might need to hire a separate general manager who can better evaluate the talent and put together the perfect roster to win.
This is one area where the coach is far from proven and seemingly doing more harm than good. It turns out that getting rid of numerous All-Pro players eventually hurts an organization's ability to compete.
No matter what the team does, it's clear no one wants too many more days like this one. Meaningful games at the end of December are ideal, but Saturday's performance on the big stage was nothing short of an embarrassment.
Philadelphia made physical and mental mistakes throughout the game and at times seemed overmatched against an opponent that isn't all that great on its own. In reality, this is exactly what went wrong throughout the entire 2015 season.
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