The Eagles say they don’t point fingers and they shouldn’t.
Team unity and all that.
“We’re a team,” Doug Pederson said after Sunday’s 17-9 loss to the Seahawks. “And when we win, we win as a team. When we lose, we lose as a team. Today, we lost as a team.”
The Eagles don’t point fingers. So I’ll do it for them.
In back-to-back weeks the Eagles’ defense has given up 17 points to offenses led by future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The Eagles’ defense has done more than enough for the Eagles to win these two games.
The offense has failed them.
Maybe that’s to be expected. On Sunday, after Brandon Brooks left the game, the Eagles were without five or six starters on that side of the ball. But that unit’s inability to make even the simplest plays and its inability to hold onto the football voids the built-in excuse. It wasn’t all Carson Wentz. It wasn’t all Doug Pederson. It wasn’t all the receivers. But that whole unit has been a mess recently.
The Eagles held Tom Brady without a touchdown pass and lost 17-10.
The Eagles held Russell Wilson to 215 total yards and lost 17-9.
Wilson said the Eagles’ defense was one of the best the Seahawks played all year and they still won easily. That shouldn’t happen.
Since Week 8, the Eagles’ defense has given up an average of 15.25 points per game. Just the Ravens have given up fewer points per game in that span.
This isn’t the way the Eagles expected things to go. They thought they were going to have a high-flying offense and the defense would just need to be OK. But it turns out, it’s the other way around.
The defense has gotten healthier. Fletcher Cox is back to his dominating self, Tim Jernigan returned, Nigel Bradham is back, the secondary has been stabilized by the returns of Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby. This defense is pretty good right now. The offense isn’t.
Things got so bad on Sunday that when Rodney McLeod picked off a pass in the third quarter, he tried everything to score, including a pitch to Avonte Maddox, because the offense stinks so bad.
OK, he was a little more diplomatic about it.
“Just trying to make a play man, and flip the field position or get into the end zone,” McLeod said. “At that point in the game, how the game is going, they’re making plays on defense, we’re making plays. So anytime we can get our hands on the ball, the mentality is to try to score.”
But you were probably thinking the same thing, right?
Once McLeod picked off that ball, you were probably thinking, “He better score because the offense sure isn’t going to.” And you were right! The Eagles punted a few plays later.
At this point, though, the Eagles are actually lucky when they punt. Because they also turned the ball over five times on Sunday, sometimes putting their own defense in a horrible spot. Malcolm Jenkins’ message for Wentz and the offense was pretty clear on Sunday: Don’t force anything, we got you.
Jenkins said the Eagles have to be comfortable winning games that are 12-9 or 9-6.
On Monday, Pederson noted that eventually the offense needs to be able to put up 30-plus points, especially if this team really wants to make a playoff push.
But, for now, Pederson didn’t disagree with Jenkins’ assessment.
“I think right now where we are, that's a realistic approach,” he said. “That doesn't mean you go into conservative mode and it's three yards and a cloud of dust, but I do think that our offense, we talk all the time [about how] we want to finish every drive with a possible kick, whether that's a punt or a field goal, or an extra point. Those are the things that we talk about. But right now, and the way our defense has been playing, I think you have to play to that strength.”
The Eagles are right to avoid pointing fingers. They have to avoid a divisive situation. It’ll be up to their leaders to make sure it doesn’t happen.
“There won’t be any of that,” said Jason Peters, still the intimidating Bodyguard. “Not in our locker room. Not while I am here. We’ll keep all the guys together, rally around each other and just go forward.”
But the fact is that the Eagles’ defense is playing well enough for the Eagles to go on a run. The offense just needs to stop letting the team down.
I’m pointing the finger at them. Just please don’t tell Peters.
Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.