Eagles

Roob's observations as Eagles blow huge lead, embarrass themselves in Miami

Roob's observations as Eagles blow huge lead, embarrass themselves in Miami

BOX SCORE

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 Julian 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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Eagles-Giants NFL Week 14 predictions 2019

Eagles-Giants NFL Week 14 predictions 2019

The Eagles (5-7) host the Giants (2-10) at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night. 

To the predictions: 

Reuben Frank (5-7) 
I’m really reluctant to pick the Eagles to beat anybody right now. I have no reason to have faith in this coach, these players, this staff. But then I look at the Giants and they’re way worse than the Dolphins. I don’t think it helps the Eagles that Eli Manning is back, even though he’s been brutal for years against the Eagles. But he's got a better chance to come into the Linc and win a game than a 22-year-old kid who has two career wins.

What Monday night will show all of us is whether the Eagles have mailed it in or if they still have a shred of fight in them. We know the Cowboys have mailed it in. Somebody has to win the NFC East, unless commisioner Roger Goodell just decides to vacate it and add another wild-card team. Probably won’t happen, although if I were the commish I would.

So against my better judgment I’ll pick the Eagles. But at this point, nothing would surprise me.

Eagles 27, Giants 26

Dave Zangaro (6-6) 
Let’s start by making this clear: The Eagles could lose any remaining game on their schedule. I just don’t think they’re gonna lose this one. The Giants are a mess and even with Manning, I’m not expecting that to change. And then there’s the fact that the Eagles have owned Manning and the Giants over the last few years. In fact, the Eagles are 9-1 against the Giants in the last five years. They’ve even won the last five games between the two teams. But four of those five wins have been close games, so I’m not about to predict a blowout. Still, I expect the Eagles to be tied with the Cowboys atop the NFC East on Tuesday morning. 

Eagles 24, Giants 20 

Derrick Gunn (5-7) 
Shocked is the best way to describe what happened to the Eagles down in Miami. The offense came to life, moved the ball effectively and put up 31 points. Then there’s the defense that we had applauded for holding four previous opponents to 17 points or fewer having a complete meltdown and giving up 37 points to one of the worst offenses in the league. If losing wasn’t bad enough, players and the head coach Doug Pederson said in unison “they wanted it more than we did.” So here they stand two games below sea level and fighting for their playoff lives.

The Giants are just as bad as the Dolphins on both sides of the ball. The Eagles’ defense was planning on getting an up-close-and-personal look at Daniel Jones, but he’s injured which means Manning has been dusted off and called into active duty. But wait there’s more: both TE Evan Engram and WR Golden Tate are expected to be healthy enough to return as well. If that happens, Tate, Engram, Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley would all be on the field together for the first time this season.

The Birds have owned Manning in recent years (Manning 1-9 in last 10 meetings with Eagles). This matchup makes me nervous. Manning could want to make a strong showing for a future employer. Will the Giants rally around their former leader? Which Eagles defense will show up? Despite the records, it’s a division battle, but at least the Birds have this one at home. 

Eagles 28, Giants 21

Ray Didinger (4-8) 
It was interesting that the point spread went up when it was announced that Manning would be starting for the Giants on Monday. Has it reached the point where bettors think a rookie, Jones, gives the Giants a better chance to win than a two-time Super Bowl MVP? Wow. 

Anyway, the Eagles were favored by eight but it went up to nine when the Giants announced Manning would start. I think the Giants saw Jones throw three picks Sunday against Green Bay (that's 21 turnovers for him this season) and decided the kid needed to sit for a week or so just to clear his head. Eight straight losses can wreck a young quarterback's confidence. They probably wanted to give Manning a chance at a curtain call anyway.

With Manning at quarterback, there will be a lot of dump offs to Barkley. He caught 91 of them last season when Manning was checking it down all the time. This year with Jones taking over Barkley has just 38 receptions. It is a dramatic difference. So Barkley will get a big work load, rushing and receiving, but it won't spell the difference. Big day for Carson Wentz against a woeful Giants defense.

Eagles 28, Giants 14

Andrew Kulp (6-6) 
I said it last week (while wrongly picking the Eagles), but it's not a given they will win this or any other game for the remainder of the season. That's just the reality of the situation.

That being said, while I might've been tempted to pick the Giants with Jones under center, picking the Giants led by Manning is a different story. Don't get me wrong, I can totally imagine a scenario in which Manning torches the dynamic duo of Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby — I just don't find it incredibly likely.

Manning stinks against the Eagles, stinks at Lincoln Financial Field, and really stinks against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in primetime. I'll take my chances on the Birds here.

Eagles 34, Giants 15

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Eagles mailbag: Who is the Eagles' 2019 MVP so far?

Eagles mailbag: Who is the Eagles' 2019 MVP so far?

Since the Eagles play on Monday night this week, we have an extra day to wait for their game against the Giants. 

So let’s take a dip into the mailbag. As always, thanks for all your great questions. 

We’ll get to some more tomorrow. 

This is a simple question, but it’s not a simple answer. Far from it. I spent way too much time thinking about this question, so I’ll walk you through some of my thought process. First, I came up with a list of players I deemed eligible: Carson Wentz, Rodney McLeod, Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Zach Ertz, Fletcher Cox. 

Wentz: I had to include the quarterback, but he isn’t playing as well as he needs to play. I still think he’s far from their biggest problem, but he’s not the MVP either. 

McLeod: You wouldn’t know he’s coming back from injury and he’s been solid. But he hasn’t really made many splash plays either. 

Howard: The Eagles were 5-4 with Howard and are 0-3 without him. That shows how important he has been to this team. But he’s about to miss his fourth straight game, so he’s eliminated. 

Sanders: An interesting choice. The rookie running back got off to a slow start but is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and has been one of the most explosive playmakers on offense. 

Graham: There aren’t many players who are exceeding expectations this season, but Graham is one of them. He has 7 1/2 sacks to lead the team and has been consistently good, even before those sacks started piling up. 

Johnson: He missed one game with a concussion, but the right tackle has been as solid as they come this season. He was rewarded with a big contract and should be heading back to the Pro Bowl. 

Brooks: Like Graham, Brooks is one of the few players exceeding expectations. He missed most of one game after a return of his anxiety, but aside from that, he’s been their most reliable offensive lineman. And that’s after coming back from an Achilles tear. 

Ertz: Ertz has been the Eagles’ best offensive weapons again this season. He has 70 catches for 736 yards and three touchdowns. He’s on pace for 93 catches for 981 yards. Another great season, but a drop from his numbers in 2018 and he’s made more mistakes this year. 

Cox: He’s still their best player and he has come on incredibly strong, but he got off to a slow start coming back from injury. He always has a strong case. 

My verdict: I’m going with Graham. On offense, my pick would have been Brooks, but I’m going with the best player on what has been the stronger unit. Graham got paid this offseason and has been very good and consistent. He has a shot at his first 10-sack season and is still as stout in the run game as ever. 

(Note: It’s not a good sign that it was this hard.) 

I don’t think so. Right or wrong, the Eagles are committed to Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills as their starting corners. Now, if one of them were to get hurt, they’d have a decision. Ultimately, I think Maddox is either a nickel corner or a safety. As unorthodox as it might be for a guy of his size (5-9, 184), I really liked him at safety last year. 

During the 2018 season, Jim Schwartz compared Maddox to Cortland Finnegan. But I have another comp for Maddox. When he was playing safety last year, I saw a little Bob Sanders. Not saying he’ll be that good, but a smaller safety with ball skills who can still hit. The Eagles will have a decision to make on McLeod this offseason. If he’s not back, I’d think about Maddox at FS. 

Tough question because they’ve lost these games in different ways. Since the offense barely showed up in two of those three games, I’ll go with the lack of offensive consistency. Even in the game when they scored 31, they couldn’t get points late. 

As much as they don’t look like contenders, it’s Doug Pederson’s job to try to win games. And this team still has a really legitimate shot to make it into the playoffs. And if they win the division, they get a first-round home playoff game. I know it’s unlikely this team goes on a run to the Super Bowl, but they have to at least try to get to the playoffs and see what happens. Remember, they were pretty darn close to advancing to the NFC Championship Game last year after starting that season with a 4-6 record. Gotta at least try. 

I have actually talked to people about this before. I really don’t think they could bring him back. They made their decision to go with Carson Wentz — and it wasn’t even like they thought about it. Bringing back Foles would put so much unnecessary pressure on Wentz, it wouldn’t be fair. From a football standpoint, it would make a ton of sense. But everything the Eagles do should be with Wentz in mind. I wouldn’t do it. 

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