Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Eagles are what we thought they would be - mediocre

If only the Eagles had not started out 3-0.

Three months later, Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz and the boys are 5-6 and the playoffs are a fading dream.

The truth is, take away those initial three wins and this team is about where we expected them to be.

Last night for the second straight week they got exposed, this time in front of a national TV audience for Monday Night Football, losing to the Packers, 27-13.

They are a team that has no weapons on offense, and a defense that too often does not come up big in crucial situations. On offense, rookie Wentz has been tossed into a near-impossible situation. He entered last night's game with one troubled wide receiver, Nelson Agholor, on the bench. He would soon lose his top target, Jordan Matthews, to an ankle injury. The Birds' top running back, Ryan Mathews, was already scratched for the game with an injury, and the offensive line, already being juggled due to injury, had to be shuffled again when right guard Ron Brooks came up sick before the game.

The result was about what you would expect. Wentz and the Eagles only managed to put up 13 points against a Packers defense that had been torched in recent weeks, giving up 40 points in both of its last two games.

But even more troubling might be this defense.

And it is hard not to point a finger at defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. The guy who signed a huge contract extension in the offseason and was consistently ballyhooed as one of the league's best defensive linemen once again came up small. He recorded only a half of a tackle on the night, whatever that means. And he once again was slapped with a crucial roughing the passer penalty in the third period. It's the third time he's picked up that kind of call this year. All three times it was on third down and led to key conversions, extending drives, and all three times the opposing team went on to score a touchdown. That can't happen.

The Eagles'defense again simply could not get off the field, as All-Pro Aaron Rodgers carved them up at will. The Packers were 10 for 14 on third down conversions.

The Eagles recorded 0 sacks and 0 turnovers.

Plus Pederson decided again to start the game on defense, taking the ball at the start of the second half. But in doing so he set the stage for Rodgers, who methodically dissected the Birds' defense. He marched the Pack down the field and immediately put the Eagles in a 7-0 hole. Actually, Wentz responded and brought the Eagles back to tie the score at 7-all.

And, much like his predecessor Andy Reid, Pederson is proving himself to be in love with the forward pass. This despite the fact that you are again playing an elite quarterback and you might want to consider keeping him off the field. You do that by running the ball, but Pederson eschewed that in favor of the forward pass.

So much for the home-field advantage. That four-game win streak is now history. The Eagles actually have now gone 2-6 since that 3-0 start.

After the game Pederson insisted the Eagles were still moving in the right direction.

Does this sound like the Eagles' very own version of the Sixers' vaunted 'Process.'

No they aren't tanking. But they aren't moving forward either.

They're regressing.

I'll blame that 3-0 start. It was a mirage.

The Eagles are about what we expected them to be. Rookie coach, rookie QB, questionable skill levels across the key positions, no weapons on offense, critical errors on defense.

Yep, sounds like 5-6 to me.

Here's what our columnist Jack McCaffery thinks. And our beat writer Bob Grotz.

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