Full disclosure. I may have covered the Bills for 32 years, but I know the Eagles franchise in a very different way. My first Eagles game was with my dad in 1969 at Franklin Field and family has had Eagles season tickets since the Vet in 1971. I don’t cover the Eagles and don’t feel the same responsibility of objectivity that I do when I watch the Bills, That being said, no fanbase is more honest and brutal to their own teams than Philly fans. I have no problem telling you exactly why they are losing .
The Eagles were many NFL analysts pick to be a team to challenge for the Super Bowl from the stacked NFC this season. So what has gone wrong? Let me count the ways.
1. Injuries on defense
It’s not an excuse, but an explanation. Start up front with their defensive line. Philly signed Malik Jackson in the off-season and he lasted less than one game. Jackson was expected to team with All-Pro Fletcher Cox up front. Tim Jernigan was right next to Jackson. He made it through 2 games and is still trying to get back on the field. The Eagles signed two players off other team’s practice squads, Albert Rush and Anthony Huggins and both might play against the Bills.
The secondary has been a disaster, especially at the cornerback position. Among the starters or regulars who have missed significant time this year, former Bill Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills (starters in the Super Bowl) Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox. The absurdity is highlighted by veteran Orlando Scandrick . They brought him in before the Jets game and he responded with two sacks, two forced fumbles and a touchdown against the Luke Falk’s. He played the next week when the Vikings ran over Philly. Then he actually was forced to start against Dallas, got torched on national tv and was released.
Sunday they will have Darby, Mills and Jones back on the field. It might not make as much of a difference.
2. A slow offense
Eagles GM Howie Roseman brought back Chip Kelly exiled Desean Jackson this season for the much needed deep threat. The move looked to be brilliant after week one when Jackson did what Jackson does, scoring twice on 50 yard bombs from Carson Wentz.
But the trouble started week 2 when the Eagles went to Atlanta. Jackson suffered an abdomen injury in the first few minutes and has not played since. Philly trots out what is likely the slowest group in the NFL. 3rd year player Mack Hollins has speed but his skill level appears to end there. Philly’s pass catchers look like an NBA team that wants to play in the half court and beat you with their size. But they aren’t going to run by anyone and defenses know it.
3. Carson Wentz hasn’t done it alone
I say hasn’t instead of can’t because great quarterbacks find a way. I think Wentz not only has the potential to be great and has played at an MVP level in the league (2017). But while his play has been inconsitent this season, some some of the criticism is unjustified. What's behind it? The Nick Foles statue literally stands outside of Lincoln Financial Field. Foles led the franchise to it's only Super Bowl win after Wentz was hurt. Unfortunately for Wentz, Foles is treated by some fans and media, like a first husband that passed away. His flaws are forgotten and all anyone remembers is his great moments.
For Wentz’s season in a nutshell, look at the Atlanta game. The Eagles lose Jackson, Alshon Jeffrey and tight end Dallas Goedert in the first quarter. Wentz gets them back in the game and gets Philly the lead. the defense gives up a 4th down TD pass to Julio Jones. Wentz then takes the Eagles for what can be a game winning drive and throws a perfect strike to a wide open Nelson Agholor for what should have won the game.
The pass is dropped and the play is immortalized by the most Philly fan thing ever. After helping save children in a fire, this fan brings up the drop.
4. Angry Birds
There have been reports of unanimous criticism of Wentz for his play. The finger has been pointed at Jeffrey (which is odd because he has received the bulk of the targets). Head Coach Doug Pederson, who made his mark and got his ring by being aggressive has turned conservative in his play calling and decision making. Losing to the Cowboys makes the entire Delaware Valley upset. Getting blown out by Dallas sets the region on fire. This is a week when they are either going to fold up for the year or wake up for a run.
The Eagles are the only team in the NFL to have a 3 game road swing and the Bills are catching them in the last game of what has been a disaster. They have already played road games at Atlanta, Green Bay (a Thursday Night win) Minnesota and Dallas. They are a team desperate for a bye and it still won’t come until after a home game with the Bears next week. It gets easier when they get home games and the Redskins, Giants twice and Dolphins in the second half, but they might be buried by then.
Since the schedule came out I saw this as a Bills win. The Eagles are the opposite of the Bills in nearly every way. While Buffalo has been focused and consistent with a strong culture and a buttoned up locker room, Philly have been scuffling since the first half of the opening game. Add in to the mix that the Bills might be the healthiest team in the NFL and it just makes sense that this is a Buffalo win. Sure the Eagles could wake up and knock off the Bills, but I haven’t seen it and don’t expect it Sunday