This is why the Eagles are 1-4, NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger said, hitting the pause button on the tape of Sundays 31-24 loss to Buffalo.
There was a lot to choose from. There were the five turnovers, there was the rush defense that once again was trampled, there was the bonehead play at the end of the first half that cost the Eagles a chance at a field goal. There was all of that.
But Baldinger found one play in the fourth quarter that summed up this underachieving football team. No, it wasnt Juqua Parker jumping offsides on fourth down, although that certainly makes the list.
This play occurred with 9:15 remaining. The Eagles had cut a 28-7 deficit to 31-24. They had dominated the fourth quarter, scoring on the first play DeSean Jacksons catch and run forcing a three-and-out on the Bills next possession and then kicking a field goal to close within a touchdown of tying the score.
Brad Smith foolishly brought the kickoff out of the end zone and the Eagles tackled him at the 10. On first down, guard Kraig Urbik was called for holding, moving the ball back to the five. The Bills were facing a first-and-15 and all the momentum they had earlier in the game was gone.
You can see it, Baldinger said, pointing to the Buffalo fans. No one is standing up. They are all sitting on their hands. The fans are deflated, the team is deflated. If youre the Eagles, this is where you take over.
Your defense has to make this stop. Your offense is hot (scoring on three of four second-half possessions), your special teams just came up with a big play pinning (the Bills) deep in their end. You have them in a negative situation, first-and-15. Stop them here and force them to punt. Your offense gets the ball at midfield with all the momentum.
As a defense youre thinking, This is where we take em by the throat, right here.
But once again the Eagles defense failed. The Bills ran wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt on a short slant. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick hit him with the pass. Safety Jarrad Page missed the tackle, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha reached but got nothing but air and the Bills receiver broke away for a 20-yard gain. Asomugha didnt even pursue Roosevelt. Instead, he inexplicably continued to run straight upfield and almost off the screen.
That play was like CPR for the gasping Bills. It allowed them to escape the shadow of their own goal line. It enabled them to hold onto the ball for almost four minutes and it changed the field position as the Bills drove to near midfield before finally punting the ball away.
Thats Naaman Roosevelt at 170 pounds breaking those tackles, Baldinger said. Thats pathetic, but thats what you are seeing with this (Eagles) team. That should be a two-yard gain. Instead, it goes for 20.
What also was noticeable on the tape was the nonchalant effort of Dominique Rogers-Cromartie on the play. Rogers-Cromartie was across the field with safety Nate Allen when Roosevelt caught the ball. Both slowed down Rogers-Cromartie was actually walking instead of flying to the football.
They are waiting for Page to make the tackle, Baldinger said. They see (Roosevelt) break loose and its like, Uh oh. Thats lousy effort. A good defense swarms to the ball. The Bills were swarming to the ball, thats how they got some of those turnovers. One or two guys made the tackle, another guy stripped the ball.
You look at the way the Eagles play defense, its no wonder they arent getting takeaways. They arent hustling. They arent getting to the ball. The Bills have 16 takeaways in five games, the Eagles have five. You watch this tape, you see why.
Coach Andy Reid watched the tape and seems satisfied with the effort of his players.
I actually saw guys flying around making tackles, Reid said Wednesday, when asked about his teams effort.
That is typical of Reid. But it is hard to believe he is truly satisfied with what he is seeing from Rogers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel, even Asomugha. They are softer than a fleece comforter.
Page didnt play well Sunday, but at least it appeared he was trying. He was credited with 11 tackles and while he missed a bunch, including the big one on Roosevelt, he did try to make the play. He and Allen are guilty of frequently taking bad angles, which causes them to miss tackles, but at least they appear to try most of the time.
The cornerbacks, not so much.
On the first play of the second half, Bills running back Fred Jackson broke away on a 22-yard run. Samuel and Rogers-Cromartie were locked up with Buffalo blockers the whole time.
I cant tell whos blocking who, Baldinger said. (The corners) just gave Jackson that alley. Its like playing with a nine-man defense.
Four plays later, Fitzpatrick hit Roosevelt on another quick slant. Rogers-Cromartie gave the Bills receiver too much cushion, which allowed Roosevelt to make the easy catch then the cornerback ran alongside Roosevelt for about 10 yards rather than attempt to make a tackle. He waited for rookie linebacker Brian Rolle to do it.
No effort at all, Baldinger said. This is five games now and it looks like this guy (DRC) flat out doesnt care.
There was a similar play on the Bills first scoring drive when Fitzpatrick completed a pass to wide receiver Donald Jones. Samuel and Asomugha missed tackles and Jones ran for 18 yards.
Thats 100 million there and they cant tackle Donald Jones, an undrafted free agent, Baldinger said. But heres what really bothers me.
He pointed to Samuel sitting on the ground after missing the tackle. Jones kept running and Samuel remained sitting.
Whats that? Baldinger said. You miss the tackle and just sit there? Everybody is ripping Juan (Castillo, defensive coordinator) but this has nothing to do with scheme. Guys have to want to play. Right now, the effort stinks.
NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger and Ray Didinger break down each Eagles game in Under Review every Thursday, Friday and Saturday on SportsRise and SportsNite on Comcast SportsNet.E-mail Ray Didinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.