MIAMI — The Eagles lost to one of the worst teams in the NFL, and now they can safely be considered one of the worst teams in the NFL.
We can all stop pretending the Eagles are some sort of playoff contender. They went into Hard Rock Stadium, took a 10-0 lead over the lowly Dolphins, and then proceeded to get blown out of the place in embarrassing and horrifying and unthinkable fashion.
The Dolphins, the third-lowest scoring in football, marched up and down the field against a hapless Eagles defense to the tune of TDs on five straight drives, all long drives, and went on to a 37-31 win.
This is as low as this franchise has been since the dreadful final days of Chip Kelly’s coaching tenure four years ago.
If you’ve gotten this far, you may as well read my 10 Instant Observations:
1. Mathematically, the season isn’t over, and the Eagles will tell you all they have to do is win their last four games to win the NFC East. Sure. That’s not happening. Let’s be honest. This team is done. They’re not going to win their last four games, and they’re not going to win the NFC East and they’re not going to the playoffs, because the reality is they’re a bad football team. They’re 5-7 and they deserve every bit of that 5-7 record. When the offense plays well? The defense is brutal. When the defense plays well? The offense is brutal. Sometimes they’re both brutal. This isn’t a good team in a slump. This isn’t a good team decimated by injuries. This is just a bad team that went into Miami and lost to a team that had been outscored by an average of 17 points in its first 11 games.
The Eagles have lost three straight, and this wasn’t the Patriots or Seahawks. This was a team that came in 2-9. And on Sunday they out-worked the Eagles, they out-hustled the Eagles, they out-blocked the Eagles, they out-tackled the Eagles. They out-played the Eagles. This wasn’t a fluke. This wasn’t the refs. This was an organization-wide embarrassment, and this franchise has a lot of work to do to become an elite team again. Heck, they have a lot of work to do just to catch up to the Dolphins.
2. Just when you thought you didn’t have to worry about the defense, this happens. Just unimaginable that an offense averaging 14.2 points per game could shred the Eagles like this. Five straight TD drives? Of 84, 75, 75, 61 and 96 yards? How do you let 37-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick do this to you? Ronald Darby picked off Fitz on the first play of the game, and after that coverage was terrible, pass pressure started off very good but fizzled out, stupid penalties extended drives. Darby and Jalen Mills played as bad trying to cover DeVante Parker as we’ve ever seen them play. Fitz finished with 365 yards, three TDs. Parker finished with a career-high 6-for-151. As bad as we’ve seen from this defense in years. A disgrace.
3. Honestly, this is the kind of game, this is the kind of stretch, that gets owners thinking about firing coaches. It’s not going to happen here. Doug Pederson is still working with the equity he built up in 2017, and that’s fair. He deserves it. What happened in 2017 really did happen, and Doug deserves a tremendous amount of credit for it. But he also has to be better. His coaches have to be better. The Eagles simply weren’t prepared to play this game, and that’s on the coach. Or maybe they were prepared to play it, but after they went up 10-0 they thought it was over. That’s on the coach. After they took that 10-0 lead they were outscored 34-18. The offense did some good things, but this was a team loss. This was a coaching loss. This was a Doug loss.
4. I really wonder about the mental makeup of this team. Is it all talent? Maybe a lot of it. But this is a team that went into Green Bay and won, went into Buffalo and won. I just question whether they are mentally tough enough to fight back when they get punched in the face. It sure seemed like when it was clear the Dolphins weren’t going to stop fighting, they buckled. I don’t think they gave up, but something changed, and it was disturbing.
5. The Dolphins had scored 28 times all YEAR. They scored on six straight drives. I can’t even process that.
6. That fake the Dolphins ran for their second touchdown was inexcusable. Terrific execution by the Dolphins, but how on Earth do the Eagles not call a timeout when they see the formation? Everybody knew as soon as you saw kicker Jason Sanders run onto the field it was going to be some sort of fake. On 4th and goal from the 1? This team wasn’t kicking a field goal. It was obvious. Just awful to allow it happen.
7. Teams have been fooling the Eagles all year on gadget plays and trick plays, whether they’re end arounds, jet sweeps, flea flickers. It’s really a concern because obviously teams are confident they can fool the Eagles, and they’re right. Whether it’s the Justin Edelman TD pass, Russell Wilson’s TD on a flea flicker or Ryan Fitzpatrick’s TD to the Dolphins’ kicker, the Eagles appear to be easily fooled. Troubling.
8. Don’t underestimate Howie Roseman’s role in the Eagles trending from a Super Bowl champion in 2017 to a 9-7 playoff team last year to a fading 5-7 this year. As much as he deserved a good chunk of the credit for 2017, he deserves a good chunk of the blame for this mess. He built that team. He built this team. He needs to do a better job building the next team.
9. This one isn’t on Carson Wentz. He completed 28-for-46 for 310 yards, three TDs and a Hail Mary INT on the final play of the game. Wentz made a lot of plays -- more than he has in a while -- on the move, outside the pocket, where he seems to see the field better. He was also victimized, as usual, by a couple drops, including one by Zach Ertz near the end zone that might have been a TD. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a lot better.
10. And it’s the weekly Doug got away from the run note. This was a one-possession game until the last few minutes, but the Eagles still had a 46-19 pass-run ratio. The Dolphins are second-worst in the NFL in rush defense, allowing 148 yards per game on the ground. The Eagles averaged 4.8 per carry but only ran 19 times for 92 yards -- just seven times in the second half. You beat a bad run defense by controlling the line of scrimmage and wearing that group down. Pederson never even tried.
10A. Two quick positives. Sanders averaged 4.9 yards per carry and finished 17-for-83 to go with five catches. He’s really, really good, although still under-utilized. He only had seven carries on five second-half drives. That’s just not enough. He’s too talented not to be a bigger part of the offense. And this was the best Alshon Jeffery has looked in a long time. He worked hard, got open, made tough catches, great effort. He finished 9-for-138 with a TD and drew a couple long DPIs.
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