It’s been too depressing to write the past few weeks. After the Eagles squandered the fourth-quarter lead against the Lions, we were 3-3 going into the bye. That wasn’t horrible, except that we had just lost two winnable games in a row.
Close Losses Come Back to Haunt You
The Lions game goes without saying, but people quickly forget that we had that Steelers game. If Vick hasn’t fumbled at the goal line we might have taken that game. But instead of going into the bye at 5-1 we went in at 500. Even if we accept the tough loss against the Steelers, we really needed to pull out that Lions game, and there was no excuse for that loss.
Two Embarrassing Weeks Against the NFC South
Anyway, with Reid’s success after the bye and being at home, I thought we had a good shot to beat the Falcons. Even though they came into that game undefeated, I still can’t really believe in the Falcons. The only time I’ve really seen them play this year, aside from against the Eagles, was the Monday night game against Denver early in the season. They made Peyton look bad, but it was his first game back, so I didn’t put as much stock into the disguised defensive schemes that Gruden was raving about all night. Also, the Falcons have had some really shaky wins against questionable teams. Granted, the Eagles few win over Cleveland was shaky as well, but the win against the Giants was solid and although we got some help at the end of the Ravens game, it was still a strong showing and a victory against a still-good team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Falcons split their final four games, but in any case back to the Eagles.
So we all know how embarrassing the past couple weeks have been. The worst part is that the Eagles continue to shoot themselves in the talons. Shady tore up the Saints with at least three big runs in the first half. Heck even Bryce Brown had a couple great runs, and Vick was getting a few years on the ground as well. But then the same old story. We get in the red zone and we’re throwing the ball nonstop. Between turnovers, penalties, and screw-ups, the Eagles have managed to sink to 30th in the league in scoring TDs in the red zone: at 37.04%, the Birds are only ahead of Cleveland and Kansas City (The Saints, by the way, lead the league with an incredible 72% TD rate in the red zone).
The Eagles Are a Mess
Simply put, the Eagles continue to be a mess. They were a mess all of last year, but we thought that the correctable mistakes–picks, fumbles, penalties, poor play calling, execution–would make some progress. But it really doesn’t seem like much progress has been made in any of those areas. This is just a sloppy football team.
And that is really what is so frustrating. This team could be better. The talent is there. But we just continue to hurt ourselves. There are some things we can’t do much about. The offensive line is hurting, but the replacements are still pathetic. But that’s only part of the problem. If you know that your offensive line stinks, get Vick to roll out more. He’s getting hit on his 3- and 5-step drops, so start bootlegging him out. Run the ball more (novel idea!). The D line is getting in fast, so give the ball to your super talented back and let him find the holes. Establish the run, and if it’s working, stick with it. Why we got so pass heavy in the second half against the Saints still boggles my mind. We were tearing them to shreds on the ground. Even if you only get 3.4 years per carry, that’s still a first down every time.
On the plus side, regardless of the real concerns that we should have (especially after the Falcons blowout), I still think our defense is solid. To counter the poor red-zone offense, we are actually fourth in the league at preventing touchdowns in the red zone (only behind Chicago, Miami, and Baltimore). We finally managed a couple sacks last week, and in general the pressure seemed better. To me that was a good sign because against lesser quarterbacks, that pressure will have more of an effect.
We really need this Cowboys game, but it’s hard to have much confidence as a fan at this point. The Eagles just look like a complete mess out there, and the Cowboys, although they also cause themselves problems to lose games, at least look like they are close to turning things around at times. The Birds seem like they just have miles to go…