Had an Eagles team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations merely lost 37-10 in Dallas, people would rightly be pissed.
But this wasn’t just some blowout on the football field. It was the climax to the most embarrassing week for the Eagles organization since the Chip Kelly days — a humiliation felt inside the locker room, by the coaching staff and all the way up to the front office.
At least, you hope it was the climax. To recap, in the span of nine days:
• Zach Brown talked trash on Minnesota’s quarterback.
• The Eagles got dropped 38-20 by Minnesota.
• Coach Doug Pederson proclaimed “we’re gonna win” in Dallas.
• The Eagles cut Brown.
• After a weeks-long pursuit, the Rams, not the Eagles, traded for Jalen Ramsey.
• An anonymous Eagles player talked trash on Carson Wentz.
• The Eagles got crushed in Dallas.
• Lane Johnson claimed teammates are late for practices and meetings.
• A reporter claimed the anonymous Eagles player is Alshon Jeffery.
• The Eagles were accused of leaking the information to said reporter.
Am I missing anything? You could certainly point to some individual plays that stand out — the ridiculous fake field goal, blown coverage after blown coverage and whatever Sidney Jones was doing in Minnesota; or Malcolm Jenkins getting run over and Nelson Agholor’s “effort” in Dallas.
Blowouts happen, occasionally even to good teams. They can become rallying points, as we saw last season after the Eagles got smoked 48-7 in New Orleans, then proceeded to win six of seven games en route to a playoff rematch.
Blowouts in back-to-back weeks, on the other hand, are often a sign of far deeper fractures.
In the fog of everything else happening around the Eagles, the feeling at this very specific moment in time is more akin to Kelly’s final season in 2015, right after the team got rolled 45-17 by Tampa Bay and 45-14 by Detroit in consecutive weeks.
Jason Peters was pulling himself out of games left and right. DeMarco Murray was sliding rather than fighting for extra yards — and being criticized for it by an anonymous teammate. High-priced free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell was getting beat like a drum on the reg. Riley Cooper was still on the team despite using a racial slur two years earlier. Opponents routinely said they knew the Eagles’ plays before the offense ran them. And after winning an offseason power struggle with Howie Roseman, Kelly reshaped the team in his image, trading LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso and Nick Foles for Sam Bradford, among other head-scratchers.
Surely, that was a more embarrassing period of Eagles football than this. And yet, you don’t have to strain your eyes too hard to find some parallels.
That season ended with Kelly’s firing prior to the finale. I seriously doubt anything so drastic will happen here. Roseman and Pederson built a lot more cache after guiding the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship two years ago.
However, if the Eagles don’t turn things around on and off the football field this season, Roseman and Pederson will be facing some uncomfortable questions. And while it’s easy to make the cases that Roseman assembled an aging roster, that he hasn’t drafted well enough through the years, that it really shows when everybody keeps getting hurt, and that Pederson and his staff haven’t developed young players or properly used the “talent” at their disposal, there is potentially a much larger issue here.
How is it the core of a football team that went 13-3 and won it all with one of the most harmonious, accountable locker rooms you’ll ever see has become so unglued, with teammates ripping their own franchise quarterback going back to last season, and looks so unprepared to play on such alarmingly regular basis?
These seem more like the hallmarks of a Chip Kelly team, but for the last week-and-a-half, the only discernible difference is the Eagles aren’t being peppered with questions about their blatant disregard for time of possession.
NFL seasons are deceptively long, so it's plausible the Eagles plug the leaks and right the ship in the 10 weeks that remain, even reach the postseason. But if they don't, somebody will need to answer for this level of dysfunction.