For third straight week, Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles came up short in another losing effort that drives this team further and further from a playoff position.
Critical errors in critical moments continue to cost this team dearly. From the missed field goal attempts of Cody Parkey, to the turnovers from Mark Sanchez, to the baffling stubbornness of defensive coordinator Billy Davis refusing to bench Bradley Fletcher, the ingredients were all there for another letdown.
What we’ve learned over the last three weeks is that is not a very good football team, and its not one that deserves to be in the playoffs.
The coaching staff is largely at fault for how these last three weeks have played out. This team has had glaring issues all year in several areas, and Chip Kelly and his staff have been unable to properly address or solve any of them through 15 games. Specifically, I’m talking about turnovers and the defensive gameplan.
Turnovers have been killing this team all year long. The amount of careless, silly mental mistakes that this club has made throughout the year is just unacceptable. This team averages more than two giveways per game, and anytime you’re giving away the ball at such a high rate, its going to cost you. The Eagles were lucky to have won as many games as they did inspite of how many gifts they’ve served up to teams on a silver platter.
Billy Davis also deserves a great deal of blame for how things have fallen through this year.
I don’t understand why Davis has flat out refused to even consider making a change at cornerback throughout the season. Bradley Fletcher isn’t as bad as he’s looked the last two weeks, but after getting obliterated by Dez Bryant, and burned multiple times by DeSean Jackson, its apparent that he has lost a great deal of his confidence, making him even more of a target than he was before. Wasn’t Nolan Carroll brought in here because the front office believed he could push Fletcher for a starting job?
The excuse that we’ve gotten from Davis all year is that he doesn’t want to mess with his nickel or dime packages by starting either Brandon Boykin or Carroll over either Fletcher or Cary Williams. So instead, Davis sat by idly and watched his base defense crumble because of a critical hole in one area that has been an issue all year. Its flat out inexcusable that that we’re in Week 16 and an adjustment at the position hasn’t even been considered. Davis has done a much better job in this town as a defensive coordinator than many expected, but his stubborn approach really cost this team dearly.
The other element of tonight’s game that was frustrating was seeing Zach Ertz go off for 15 catches and over 100 yards, setting a franchise record for receptions in a game. My question to Chip Kelly is what took so long? Ertz is a guy that everyone can see is just overflowing with potential, and is could have been a real difference maker on this offense if given the opportunity. However, Kelly has inexplicably left him out of the gameplan for most of the season, citing Ertz’s blocking ability. That’s a load of nonsense in my eyes. Here you have a guy that you can use in a variety of ways to create matchup problems and really help the offense move down the field, its absolute negligence that this head coach didn’t make better use of Ertz’s talents this year.
And finally, we still have serious questions about this coach’s ability to succeed in big games and big situations. Its cute that you can run up the score on teams like the Titans and Panthers, but its been a flat out struggle for this club to succeed any time they’ve been faced with a quality opponent or a must-win situation. They failed miserably the last two weeks against the Seahawks and Cowboys to put themselves in what should have been a desperate, must-win situation against a three-win team like the Redskins. And they couldn’t get up to take care of business against one of the league’s biggest laughingstocks.
When you look at this team’s body of work, they’re a lot closer to being a losing team than they are a winning one. They lived off of big plays from their defense and special teams through the first month and a half of the season, and if a couple of bounces go the other way, we could very easily be looking at a team with six or seven wins instead of nine.
- This offense leans so heavily on dink-dunk with Mark Sanchez as quarterback, its painful to watch. Sanchez threw for 374 yards with two touchdowns, but leaned heavily on the short and intermediate passes, very rarely attempting to take shots down the field.
- Sanchez did his part to give the Redskins opportunities to win, turning the ball over twice in critical moments. Sanchez began the game with a lost fumble that set the Redskins up with a short field and an eventual field goal, and ended the game with a poorly thrown ball that was intercepted and led to the Washington game-winning kick.
- LeSean McCoy ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, and also added 28 yards on three receptions.
- Zach Ertz was targeted a whopping 18 times.
- Darren Sproles picked up over 60 yards on 10 touches.
- We have positive things to say about Riley Cooper for a change! Cooper caught five balls for 52 yards, including two touchdowns.
- It was a pretty bad night for the offensive line, which picked up several bad penalties and allowed three sacks.
- The offense went on an impressive 94-yard drive in the second quarter, capped by a third and goal touchdown pass from Sanchez to Riley Cooper. During the drive, the Eagles had several big third down conversions, including a 26-yard pass to Jordan Matthews on a third and 25, and a 22 yard screen to Darren Sproles on third and 16.
- Fletcher Cox picked up another sack.
- Its bad enough that Cary Williams is a mediocre corner. Why does he need to compound it with dumb penalty after dumb penalty? Williams picked up a silly personal foul after the Eagles stopped Washington on third down deep in Philadelphia territory. Instead of a field goal try, Washington was given half the distance to the goal and a fresh set of downs. Fortunately, the Eagles were able to stop the Skins again.
- Malcolm Jenkins dropped another potential pick-six in the first quarter. Jenkins successfully anticipated and jumped a route, but couldn’t hang on to the ball. This led to three Washington points, and could have been a difference in the game.
- Mychal Kendricks picked up a sack early in the second quarter to force Washington into a third and 19. Kendricks led the team with 10 tackles.
- Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry each picked up a couple of bad penalties.
- Bradley Fletcher played a big role in allowing DeSean Jackson to pick up 126 yards on four catches.
- Nate Allen came down with a huge interception in the second half that started the Eagles’ rally.
- Its a shame to see Cody Parkey’s season end on such a sour note. The rookie kicker had been such a key element of this team’s success, but he played as big a role as anyone in the loss by missing two kicks.
This is a loss that was embarrassing and utterly devastating for this franchise.
However, as bleak as things feel, its not over yet.
Think back to the 2008 season. The Eagles were in control of their own destiny, but took a terrible loss in Week 16 to (ironically enough) the Washington Redskins in Washington no less. The playoffs seemed out of reach for the disappointing Birds, as they needed all kinds of improbable scenarios to come true during Week 17. The lowly Houston Texans and even more lowly Oakland Raiders needed to help the Eagles out with wins over the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Bucs, and the Eagles would need to take down the Cowboys later in the day.
Things seemed so far out of reached, but things would ultimately play out perfectly for the Eagles.
The scenario as it stands now is that the Cowboys must lose to both the Colts and Redskins, and the Eagles must defeat the New York Giants next week.
Don’t rule anything out.