In one word, the game against the Lions was disappointing. Sad. Frustrating. Undisciplined. Terrible. Ok, that’s more than one word but you get the picture. Being a fan of the Eagles is like being suspended in some sort of déjà vu land where you’re stuck watching the same story unfold each and every Sunday, season after season.
The Lions did everything in their power over the first 50 minutes of the game to keep the Eagles in it, and the Eagles did everything in their power not to take advantage of it. While the Eagles did have a 10 point lead with about 5 minutes left and found a way to lose the game, the problems run much deeper:
- The offensive and defensive lines were downright terrible. On the offensive side, pass protection was brutal (especially in the first half), run blocking was out of sync and there were execution errors by all five members. In particular (and it pains me to say it as there are too few Canadians to cheer for in the NFL), Watkins probably had his worst game as an Eagle and looked completely over-matched the entire game. On the defensive side, the line had its third game without a sack and did very little to bother Stafford. The lack of pressure allowed the Lions to complete their comeback as the secondary couldn’t hold up in the 4th quarter.
- Turnovers – Two more picks by Vick and a fumble on a snap out of the shotgun. This has been a broken record item all year. He’s sloppy with the ball, and that’s never going to change.
- Inability to put the game away – Turnovers in scoring areas. The inability to convert 3rd downs. A dropped pass for a TD by Celek and an offensive pass interference that took away a TD by Celek. The lack of crispness, especially on offence, cost the Eagles this game. Blowing a 10 point lead in less than 6 minutes is inexcusable, but the lead should have been greater than 10 points by that point in the game.
- Consistency and discipline – Play calling, execution in all 3 phases of the game, dumb penalties (including an ejection for throwing a punch) – this game had it all. This has been a hallmark of Reid’s Eagles over the past 5 years or so.
- Vanilla defence – The stats on the defence put it in the middle of the pack in the league, but what has been telling is the general inability to successfully modify schemes during a game to adapt to what the other team is doing. This is a defence that just lines up and plays straight ahead with little deception. As games progress, the opposition figures things out and starts having success. Ultimately, this is what cost Castillo his job on Tuesday.
The Eagles head into their bye week at 3-3 looking at a tough game against Atlanta in two weeks. A new DC may put some life into that side of the ball. There will be a few more changes over the bye week, but right now, all signs are pointing toward another up and down year. If the turnovers and sub-par line play continue, this team will be lucky to get to 9 wins. If I’m betting on the outcome, we’re looking at the last 10 games of Reid and Vick.
Elsewhere, here are a few other things I noticed in the other games:
- The Seahawks defence is proving itself against some very good offensive teams. Holding the Pats offence in check on Sunday was very impressive. New England’s run game was completely stopped after looking invincible the past few weeks.
- Speaking of the Pats, that may have been one of their sloppiest games in years. There were a couple of wasted timeouts in the second half that would have been useful in the end-game. A lost chance at a FG at the end of the 1st half on an intentional grounding penalty may have been the difference.
- Houston got beaten badly by the Packers, but while trailing against a high octane offence, they elected to take a FG when facing a 4th and 2 late in the first half to close the gap to 11 points. Playing teams like the Packers, you need touchdowns. At that point in the game, Houston needed the 7 points.
- The 49ers and Texans have shown their Achilles heel – when they can’t run the ball and need to rely on the pass (i.e. down by 2+ scores), they can’t be successful. If they’re in close games and can balance the run/pass ratio, their effectiveness skyrockets. A quick start and attack mentality that jars those teams out of their game plan looks like the key.