It looks like week 12 put the final nail in the coffin of my Eagles’ playoff hopes. Yes, they’re still mathematically alive, but since I can’t explain in 20 seconds or less the scenario in which they can make the playoffs, I’m considering this year’s hopes dashed. With a heavy heart, here’s what I saw in week 12.
Inconsistency at every position was the undoing of this team. Inconsistent coaching/play calling, pass coverage, run defence, offensive execution, and the list goes on. The game against the Pats put a very bright light on most of the Eagles flaws.
Play calling – The Eagles lead the NFL in rushing yardage and have the league’s top rusher, but McCoy only got 10 carries in this game. Before they got behind by 18 points, they were already pass-happy, and that was with their inaccurate backup QB. Reaching 1st and goal from the 5 in the first half, they called three passes and ended up settling for a field goal. This has long been a bone of contention with Eagles fans, but this year, with an offensive line and a running back the envy of most in the league, it’s inexcusable.
DeSean Jackson – This was his worst game as an Eagle with 3 dropped passes, including 2 dropped TDs. A number of times you could see him develop crocodile arms and play to avoid contact. He’s played himself out of the monster contract he so desired. The only question is how much of a distraction he becomes for the remainder of the year.
Nate Allen – A high round draft pick last year meant to shore up the Eagles safety position after the release of Brian Dawkins, he had a brutal game. Welker’s first half TD was a result of him biting on a run fake and leaving Welker uncovered. He took bad angles all game on tackles and looks uncomfortable covering anyone. He’s been a complete bust this year – makes me wonder how this team would have fared had they resigned Dawkins 2 seasons ago for his leadership – he’s looked pretty good in Denver for 2 years now.
Discipline – One sign of a good team is a consistent absence of penalties. On Sunday the Eagles committed a wealth of penalties due to mental errors (offsides, illegal formations) that show the team isn’t prepared to play the game. This is a trend that has been getting worse over the past 3-4 years.
Everything else – The team (with a few notable exceptions against the Giants and Cowboys) has looked lethargic and soft all season, and perhaps never more so than against the Patriots. So much went wrong in this game that I won’t take the time to break it down. It was brutally clear that the Eagles don’t measure up to the better teams in the league. The picture below sums up the game pretty well.
Steelers – After the 13-9 win over the Chiefs, half of my household is still dreaming of a Super Bowl. The Chiefs played great defence and held the game in the balance long enough for a late potential game-winning drive. Ultimately, the Steelers weren’t threatened by a Chiefs offence that committed 4 turnovers. It was an ugly win, but lets them keep pace with the other leaders in the AFC.
49ers-Ravens: This was a great old-time defensive struggle. I love games like this where both teams battle for every yard of field position all game long. I know I tend to focus on the offensive and defensive line play in most games, but that really was the key to the Ravens win. Their DL harassed Alex Smith all night and gave him no time to throw. It was a surprise as the 49ers OL had looked really strong the whole season.
Broncos-Chargers: The Chargers are the AFC’s Eagles. It looks like their season is over after this uninspiring game. I didn’t watch much of this game until the 4th quarter and overtime. Although it didn’t affect the outcome of the game, Norv Turner committed another boneheaded time management mistake in overtime (not calling timeout with about 1:00 left to save time for a game-winning drive try if Denver missed their upcoming field goal attempt, letting the clock wind down to about :33, then calling a timeout to “ice” the Denver kicker – only, the play clock was about to expire: that would have resulted in a Denver penalty which would push the kick back another 5 yards).
Suh: The Lions need to accept some responsibility in what has become a player out of control. Suh got a 2 game suspension this week for stomping on a player in their Thanksgiving Day game. What needs to be acknowledged is the role the organization has played in enabling this behaviour. The Lions are coached by a complete hot-head who taunts players, officials and opposing coaches during games. He’s validated previously dirty play by Suh for two years and now, in the heat of a playoff push, is without one of his top players for two games (not to mention that the penalty during the game resulted in a Packers touchdown which helped decide that crucial game).
Looking ahead to next week, I’m going to get to see my Eagles play the Seahawks in person in Seattle on Thursday night (flights and a 90 minute Continental Airlines connection at Newark willing). Here’s hoping for a beautiful night for football and an entertaining game.