Freefalling: Eagles Competitive, Lose to Dallas Anyway

Freefalling: Eagles Competitive, Lose to Dallas Anyway

The Eagles set a season high on Sunday with 33 points. Nick
Foles played the best game of his young, professional career, finishing with a
96.6 passer rating. Bryce Brown scored two touchdowns and eclipsed 160 yards
rushing for the second week in a row. Brandon Graham had 1.5 sacks, four QB
hits, and two tackles for loss. Heck, Damaris Johnson returned a punt 98 yards for
a touchdown!

In the end, Tony Romo was still taking a knee, as the Birds
lost a game to the Dallas Cowboys anyway by a 38-33 final.

Despite the sad state of the Eagles’ organization, which
dropped to 3-9 on the year – solidifying their first losing season since 2005 –
they actually gave us an entertaining game on a national stage, never trailing until
late in the fourth quarter. They finally surrendered the advantage with 5:35
remaining on Romo’s third touchdown pass of the night, his second to Dez Bryant.

Then, as things tend to do this season, disaster struck.
Brown’s magnificent effort was once again marred by a turnover, this of the
most costly variety. The rookie back was stripped by Josh Brent on his way to
the ground, the loose ball being scooped up by Morris Claiborne, who returned
it 50 yards for the decisive score.

Brown finished with 24 carries for 169 yards – good for 7.0
yards per carry – plus the two scores, and added four receptions for 14 yards.
The kid clearly has a ton of talent, but it turns out ball security is kind of
important. Let’s hold our horses before we anoint the guy.

That being said, Brown is not on the hook for the loss here.
Once again, Philly’s defense was completely ineffective.

Here is a sampling of the raw numbers. Dallas converted on 9
of 14 third downs – in fact they punted a total of three times. Dallas committed
zero turnovers. Romo completed 22 of 27 passes for 303 yards. He was sacked
twice. Jason Witten had six catches for 108 receiving yards, Bryant had six for
98. Dallas won the time of possession battle by an estimated 33 to 27.

The Eagles’ secondary in particular was embarrassed. I hardly
remember a ball hitting the turf in the second half. Dominique
Rodgers-Cromartie especially wanted no part of tackling the Cowboys receivers,
giving a questionable effort on Miles Austin’s 27-yard catch and run in the
third quarter, then later letting Bryant carry him across the goal line for the
go-ahead score in the fourth.

The Cowboys’ running game was more effective than the
numbers indicate as well. Dallas backs carried 30 times for 109 yards, though
DeMarco Murray ran backwards for 11 on his last touch. He finished with 23
rushes for 83 and a score.

If there was a silver lining here, it was Foles, who gave
the Philly faithful some hope the quarterback of the future may be on the
roster after all. Foles completed 22 of 34 attempts for 251 yards and a
touchdown, and perhaps most important, zero picks and just one sack. The scoring play went to Riley
Cooper, a perfect 15-yard strike on a go route to the end zone, which the
third-year receiver hauled in with one hand.

The stats probably don’t do the performance justice. Behind
a patchwork offensive line, with his two most dangerous weapons out of the
lineup, Foles made smart decisions, was mechanically sound, faced the pressure,
and threw good balls. The Eagles were also more efficient in the red zone overall, converting for six on all three trips. It was one game, and the Cowboys’ D have been hammered by
injuries, too, but it was definitely progress.

We can’t say the same for the Eagles as a whole, now losers
of their eighth in a row, which is an amazing number even for one of the worst
clubs in the NFL. Then again, we weren’t really expecting much, were we?

It hurt a little more to lose this game to Dallas, one in
which it looked like the Birds were primed to steal from the opening kickoff.
Yet at the end of the day, they remain on the path toward one of the top picks
in April’s draft. A win would have been nice, but nobody is going to care a
month from now, let alone in a few days.

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Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

USA Today Images

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

CHESTER, Pa. — On the eve of his comeback after missing nearly 13 months with a left tibia stress fracture and other related injuries, Union midfielder Maurice Edu fractured his left fibula on Saturday, keeping him out for the 2016 playoffs and beyond.

“I was trying to take the shot on goal and my foot got stuck in the turf,” Edu said Sunday, in his blue Union-issued suit and supported by crutches. “My ankle rolled and twisted and it kind of snapped a little bit. I heard it crack, and a lot of pain from there. I got a scan afterward, and there was a break.”

There's no timetable his return.

Edu, 30, has spent over a calendar year fighting various injuries that have kept him out of game action. His trouble began on Sept. 30, 2015, when he played through the U.S. Open Cup final with a partially torn groin and sports hernia. It was during Edu’s recovery from those injuries that he developed a stress fracture.

"A little bit frustration. A lot of frustration, to be honest," he said. "But all I can do now is get back to work, focus on the positives and make sure that my situation isn’t a distraction from the team."

Edu’s teammates were equally devastated by the news. Edu, the Union captain when healthy, is popular and well-respected in the locker room.

"I feel so bad for him," said Alejandro Bedoya, who wore a dedication to Edu under his jersey on Sunday. "He’s one of my good friends, so I was looking forward to playing alongside him. I know how hard he’s worked to get back, and to see him go out like that, it’s heartbreaking. I’m sad for his loss and I hope he stays strong."

Edu, who has been with the Union since 2014, returned to training in July and played three conditioning appearances with the Union’s USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC. He was on the bench for the Union’s last three games and was set to make his first appearance in over a year against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, a game the Union eventually lost, 2-0 (see game story).

"We’re gutted for Mo," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "He was slated to start today. It’s real upsetting because he’s worked so hard to get back on the field. It’s been a tough 2016 for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger."

While he was visibly shaken by recent injury, Edu is driven to return.

"What happened, happened," Edu said. "I have no control over that. The only thing I do have control over is my next steps from here, how I prepare myself mentally and emotionally and how I continue to support this group."

Snap counts: Connor Barwin's snaps decrease; filling in for Bennie Logan


Snap counts: Connor Barwin's snaps decrease; filling in for Bennie Logan

During the week, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said he thought defensive end Connor Barwin could benefit from fewer snaps during games. 

That's exactly what happened on Sunday. 

Barwin, who came into the game with the most snaps by an Eagles defensive end, played 49 (64 percent) against the Vikings. He came into the game playing 79 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps. On Sunday, he had a huge strip sack of Sam Bradford. 

Taking away some of Barwin's snaps on Sunday was even more impressive considering Vinny Curry played quite a few snaps inside as a defensive tackle with the absence of Bennie Logan (groin). 

Curry played 41 snaps (54 percent) against the Vikings after playing just 40 percent of the team's defensive snaps before this weekend. 

Beau Allen, who started in place of Logan, played 51 snaps (67 percent), while rookie Destiny Vaeao chipped in a career-high 30. Vaeao has had 58 snaps in the last two weeks. 

Ron Brooks played just seven snaps before going down with a serious leg injury. That meant Jalen Mills played 27 snaps and safety Jaylen Watkins played 46 snaps. 

Malcolm Jenkins continued his impressive streak. He played all 76 snaps on Sunday and the only defensive snap he's missed was that weird fake punt in the opener against Cleveland. 

On offense, Josh Huff saw his role increase some on Sunday and he made the most of it. Huff, who had just nine snaps last week, got 20 against the Vikings and caught four balls for 39 yards. Perhaps Huff's production is why Dorial Green-Beckham's snaps dropped to 28 (48 percent). 

Matt Tobin got some extended playing time (20 snaps) at left tackle thanks to Jason Peters' bicep injury. Peters said that had the game been close, he would have been fine to go back in. 

Zach Ertz got 48 snaps (83 percent) but walked away with one catch for 14 yards. He's been on the field, but can't seem to become a part of the passing offense. 

Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles each got 26 snaps on Sunday. Wendell Smallwood got five and Kenjon Barner 3. On the season, Smallwood has 28 carries on 42 snaps. 

Here's a full look at snap counts from Sunday: 

Allen Barbre, 58 snaps, 100 percent
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, 58, 100
Jason Kelce, 58, 100
Carson Wentz, 58, 100
Brandon Brooks, 53, 91
Zach Ertz, 48, 83
Jordan Matthews, 45, 78
Jason Peters, 43, 74
Nelson Agholor 43, 74
Brent Celek, 28, 48
Dorial Green-Beckham, 28, 48
Darren Sproles, 26, 45
Ryan Mathews, 26, 45
Josh Huff, 20, 34
Matt Tobin, 20, 34
Trey Burton, 13, 22
Wendell Smallwood, 5, 9
Stefen Wisniewski, 5, 9
Kenjon Barner, 3, 5

Malcolm Jenkins, 76 snaps, 100 percent
Nigel Bradham, 76, 100
Jordan Hicks, 76, 100
Nolan Carroll, 75, 99
Rodney McLeod, 75, 99
Brandon Graham, 57, 75
Fletcher Cox, 54, 71
Beau Allen, 51, 67
Connor Barwin, 49, 64
Jaylen Watkins, 46, 61
Leodis McKelvin, 44, 58
Vinny Curry, 41, 54
Destiny Vaeao, 30, 39
Jalen Mills, 27, 36
Mychal Kendricks, 24, 32
Marcus Smith, 18, 24
Ron Brooks, 7, 9
Steven Means, 5, 7
Stephen Tulloch, 5, 7