Welcome to "The Takeaway," where we take away the three key points from the Eagles' previous game (in this case a 30-24 loss to the Bears).
1. Where the heck is DeSean? Has anyone told DeSean Jackson that you're supposed to underperform AFTER you sign your contract extension? Jackson was nonexistent on offense last night, and it was his fumble on the punt return that gave Chicago that critical touchdown right at the end of the first half. Over the past three games, Jackson has a grand total of eight catches and no touchdowns. His longest punt return of the season thus far has been 20 yards. DeSean used to be the most dangerous receiver in the NFL. How could he have turned into an afterthought so quickly, in a contract year no less? It's one of many puzzling questions this game posed.
2. Why didn't they throw a Hail Mary at the end? You can chew out Andy Reid this morning for the Eagles' failed fake punt, which turned out to be the key n the Bears win. But I don't know how you fault Reid for the play, given that it was there for the taking. (I'm much more angry with ESPN for cutting to the play far too late. A fake punt is the one of the most enjoyable surprises in football, and the only way you knew it was happening was because Mike Tirico nearly swallowed his own tongue when it happened). But you can fault Reid for a whole mess of other things. First of all, the clock management on the penultimate drive was atrocious. There was no urgency at all on the part of Michael Vick when that drive started at the 3:58 mark, and the Eagles needed a touchdown. That lackadaisical clock management was a staple of Donovan McNabb's tenure here in Philly and it continues with Vick at the helm. Reid is the constant. We're over it. Reid made an excellent challenge on the Forte fumble, but he still can't get his offense to show some hustle.
More importantly, why didn't they throw a Hail Mary at the end? Mike Vick is a player custom built for Hail Marys -- a guy who can buy time in the pocket and has the arm to launch the ball 70 yards. Instead, the Eagles ran a half-hearted hook-and-lateral at the end that had no chance of being productive.
It was a lame way to end a very, very dispiriting performance. Speaking of rotten performances...
3. Break out the hot seat for Juan Castillo again. Going through an entire game without sacking Jay Cutler is like striking out six times in a tee ball game. And the run defense was awful again, with Matt Forte plowing through the Eagles defense at his leisure. There were also discipline issues, like Babin's roughing the passer penalty on Cutler that ruined a potential goal line stand at the end of the half and consecutive offsides penalties. Everything we thought was fixed with the defense during the bye week is now a problem again. And with the Giants looking better and better each week, that doesn't bode well for a team still trying to get its head back above water.
The Eagles had momentum going into last night. That's gone now and time is running out for them to get it back.