10 observations from Eagles-Buccaneers

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10 observations from Eagles-Buccaneers

BOX SCORE

Where do you start?

The Buccaneers piled up more than 500 yards. They ran for nearly 300 yards. Their 21-year-old rookie quarterback playing in his 10th career game threw five touchdown passes.

45-17? This was an absolute disgrace for the Eagles, who became only the second team since 1950 to allow 280 rushing yards and five TDs in a home game (see Instant Replay).

I could have written 500 points off this game, but the rules say just 10.

So buckle up and read on.

1. If this game demonstrated anything, it’s how desperately the Eagles need what Tampa has. A young quarterback to build around. I’ve been harping about this all year, but until the Eagles draft a quarterback they believe can be a franchise guy, they’re just not going to win a thing. If you have Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez, you might win a few games here and there and you might even sneak into the playoffs once in a while. But let’s face it. The Eagles aren’t going anywhere with Bradford or Sanchez (more on Sanchez here). They’re buried in mediocrity right now, winning too many games to get a pick to draft a Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota but not winning enough to be taken seriously. This will be seven straight years without a playoff win for the Eagles, and it’s no coincidence that coincides with Donovan McNabb’s career winding down. Think about this. Winston is 21 years old. The Bucs won two games last year but have solidified their future for the next decade with one draft pick. The Eagles won’t draft No. 1 but they’ve got to find somebody because without a young, elite, stud QB, they’re just not going anywhere.

2. And onto the defense. Goodness gracious. I don’t like to use the word gutless, but I don’t know a word that better describes the effort the Eagles showed against an average offense — ranked No. 14 in the league coming in. They allowed Doug Martin runs of 58 and 84 yards — equaling his career total of two runs of 50 yards before halftime. They let Winston — who had thrown four touchdown passes in Tampa’s last five games combined — throw four before halftime and five in all. They gave up 521 total yards, fifth-most they’ve ever allowed at home. Ever. I’m not sure how it got this bad. The Eagles’ defense was actually very good up through the Giants game and pretty good since. Sure, they lost Jordan Hicks, but come on. Something much deeper is missing. I’ve always been a big Bill Davis fan, and I always thought once he got decent players he’d be a very good coach, but I have to question everything right now. Every player, every coach, every scheme. This was a disgrace, and it’s getting worse. The product the defense put out there in its own stadium was embarrassing and pitiful and inexcusable (see story). This is the kind of game that gets people fired. And it should. Somebody should pay for this.

3. I very much believe the Eagles’ problems go beyond offense and defense and beyond personnel. They don’t seem to fight back when bad things happen. They had a 13-point lead at home last week against a last-place team that just fired its coach and was playing on the road for a third straight week, and they just kind of stopped playing, stopped fighting. And then this on top of that? It raises very sobering questions about Chip Kelly and his ability to get this team to play hard and to play hard for 60 minutes. The Eagles have now won five of their last 14 games, and this is the team Chip wanted, the team Chip built. I won’t go as far as saying the Eagles quit because I didn’t see that. But my doubts about Chip’s ability to lead this team and prepare this team and get this team ready to play a football game are only getting stronger. The Eagles just lost back-to-back games at home to teams with losing records, and they lost both in embarrassing fashion (see story), getting outscored, 17-3, by Miami after the first quarter and, 38-14, Sunday. That reflects on one person more than any other: Chip.

4. Let’s try to put the Buccaneers’ offensive performance in context. They amassed 285 rushing yards and five touchdown passes against the Eagles’ utterly overmatched defense. That makes the Bucs the first NFL team since 1977 and only the seventh team in NFL history with five TD passes and 280 rushing yards in the same game.  

5. It’s tough to single out anybody on the defense as being particularly bad because everybody was Sunday. But I really can’t believe what I’ve seen so far from Kiko Alonso. He had that interception on opening day and obviously he missed a huge chunk of the season, but when he has played he’s been completely ineffective against the run, a non-factor in coverage and unable to produce any big plays. Maybe my expectations were too high coming off a season lost to injury and considering he missed half the season. But the Eagles gave up LeSean McCoy for this guy, and they haven’t gotten anything back.

6. Let’s touch for a moment on Martin. He’s a very tough back, a solid player. But he hasn’t been an elite back since 2012, when he had his only 1,000-yard season. Hasn’t been healthy since. So for the Eagles to stand there and let him have the biggest game ever against the Eagles is shocking. The Eagles have faced Walter Payton, Tony Dorsett, Jim Brown, Adrian Peterson … none of them ever ran for 235 yards against this football team. It wasn’t that long ago the Eagles had the No. 2 rush defense in the NFL. Going into Week 7. But stopping the run is an attitude. It’s a mentality. It’s mental and physical toughness. It’s want-to. You have to want to. When you lack all those qualities, this is what you get. An absolute embarrassment. On their own turf. In front of their own fans. Martin reached 240 yards twice late in the game — which is the most anybody has ever gained against the Eagles — but he finished with 235 yards, two shy of Emmitt Smith’s and Brown's record. Still. The Eagles are only the eighth team since 1960 — more than 60 years — to allow a back 235 rushing yards in its own stadium. Pathetic.

7. I really want to hear Chip after the game say, “I did not have this team prepared. I did not do my job. This is my fault. This was an embarrassing loss and it’s all on me.” Because say what you want about Davis and everybody else, this is Chip’s team right now and this was an abomination. I’d like to see him be accountable (here's what Chip had to say).

8. Did you see Sanchez and Darren Sproles having words after Sanchez’s third interception — Lavonte David’s pick-six in the fourth quarter? Maybe Sproles did run the wrong route, but that’s the last thing this team needs right now, the quarterback and running back yapping at each other (see story). Sanchez is fiery, and fiery is fine. But when you’re down, 45-17, in the fourth quarter in your own stadium, and you’re about to fall to 4-6 with your second straight humiliating loss, you don’t need that stuff. Be a leader. Help the Eagles out of this instead of making it worse.

9. Is it even fair for you guys to go through all of that and then start talking about the Eagles’ wide receivers? What the heck. It’s truly painful to watch this group (more on offense here). Nelson Agholor was invisible again Sunday, with three catches for 11 yards. That’s 14 for 148 in six games. The Eagles really need to find a way to get this kid going.

10. And only four days until their next game!

Best of NFL: Seahawks hurt Tony Romo, pull away from Cowboys

Best of NFL: Seahawks hurt Tony Romo, pull away from Cowboys

SEATTLE -- Three plays were all it took for Dallas to get yet another injury scare surrounding Tony Romo.

The quarterback lasted just 90 seconds into the Cowboys' 27-17 preseason loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night before leaving with what appeared at first to be a potentially significant injury, but ended up being minor.

Romo was tackled from behind by Seattle's Cliff Avril on the third play from scrimmage as Romo scrambled from the pocket.

He immediately grabbed at his back, crumpled on the field while trainers sprinted from the Dallas sideline and images of Romo's injury problems from last year immediately flashed to mind.

Turned out it was all just a scare. Romo walked off the field without assistance, threw passes on the sideline and lobbied for a return to the game. Dallas coach Jason Garrett opted to play it safe and Romo donned a baseball hat as a spectator the rest of the night.

"I was just in shock and had my mind on just, `C'mon, Tony. Get up,'" Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the team's TV broadcast.

"Said a few prayers right there in the middle on the spot. Really just couldn't imagine getting that hand dealt to us. We're pleased that it's in good shape. We obviously don't need to see what Tony can do out there."

What Romo saw was an impressive initial flash from rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott and a solid performance by backup QB Dak Prescott against one of the top defenses in the NFL.

Elliott rushed for 48 yards on seven carries, including a 13-yard run where he knocked Seattle safety Kam Chancellor backward. Prescott was solid playing against most of Seattle's starting defense, finishing 17 of 23 for 116 yards, including a 17-yard TD pass that Jason Witten snatched away from K.J. Wright.

Russell Wilson and Seattle's No. 1 offense played into the second half, scoring on four of its final five possessions including a pair of TD tosses by Wilson (see full recap).

Foster leads Dolphins to win over Falcons
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Running back Arian Foster had a 2-yard touchdown run in the Miami Dolphins' 17-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

Foster, who joined the Dolphins during the offseason and is coming off an Achilles injury, had his most extensive playing time with his new team in the third preseason game that was played at Orlando's Camping World Stadium.

The four-time Pro Bowl running back played in just one series in the first half, but he made the most of the limited opportunities by sparking the Dolphins to their lone touchdown drive of the half with five carries for 10 yards, capped by his 2-yard scoring run early in the second quarter.

The Dolphins are taking a cautious approach with Foster, who hasn't played a full season since 2012 with Houston. The former Texans star didn't play in the Dolphins' preseason opener and had just two carries for minus-5 yards last week against Dallas.

With Foster expected to challenge second-year running back Jay Ajayi in the Dolphins backfield this season, coach Adam Case came into Thursday night's game wanting a little more to evaluate Foster on.

Foster didn't get a lot more work, but he did enough in the seven touches he received to make the Dolphins' running back competition interesting. Ajayi carried seven times for 11 yards and caught two passes for 12 yards.

Foster had two receptions for 20 yards, which included a 16-yard catch that moved the Dolphins into scoring position at the Falcons 22.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, coming off an impressive outing against the Cowboys, didn't put his team in many scoring positions, but he did move the ball effectively.

He completed 20 of 29 passes for 155 yards while leading the Dolphins to a score in one of two red zone opportunities (see full recap).

NFL Notes: Browns trade '13 No. 6 pick Barkevious Mingo to Patriots

NFL Notes: Browns trade '13 No. 6 pick Barkevious Mingo to Patriots

CLEVELAND -- Barkevious Mingo never really fit in with the Browns.

The Patriots will try to find an ideal spot for him.

A major disappointment in Cleveland, Mingo, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 draft was traded to New England on Thursday.

The Browns received a fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft for the linebacker.

Mingo, a former LSU standout, has recorded just seven sacks in three seasons and spent much of last season on special teams.

Mingo's size -- 6-foot-4, 240 pounds -- and speed have made him intriguing, but Cleveland's coaching staff couldn't find the best way to utilize him. The Browns moved the 25-year-old Mingo from outside linebacker to inside earlier this summer.

Cleveland declined to exercise the fifth-year option on Mingo's rookie contract in May. With the trade of Mingo, left tackle Joe Thomas and cornerbacks Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert are the only first-round selections by Cleveland from 2007 to 2014 that are still with the team (see full story).

NFL: Harrison, Matthews and Peppers talk with PED investigators
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison and Green Bay Packers defensive players Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers met this week with NFL investigators looking into allegations linking them to performance-enhancing drugs, the players' union said Thursday.

Matthews and Peppers met with league representatives on Wednesday, while Harrison did so on Thursday, according to the NFL Players Association.

Last week, the league threatened Harrison, Matthews, Peppers and free agent Mike Neal with indefinite suspensions if they did not meet with investigators. All of them were mentioned in an Al-Jazeera television interview with Charlie Sly, who worked as an intern at an anti-aging clinic. In the December report, Sly made claims of PED use by several athletes, including Harrison, Peyton Manning and the three others, but later recanted his claims.

The since-retired Manning was cleared after a separate NFL investigation in which he granted interviews and provided all records sought by league investigators.

The league's deadline for cooperation from the four current players was Thursday. The NFL first notified the four on Jan. 11 about the investigation into the Al-Jazeera report (see full story).

Dolphins: Team intensifies efforts for Zika control at stadium
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins and Miami Marlins say they've intensified mosquito-control treatments at their stadiums because of the Zika virus.

The Dolphins' stadium is more than 10 miles from the nearest area of the virus outbreak. Even so, the Dolphins say they decided weeks ago to undertake additional treatments as a precaution.

Construction workers are at the site daily completing the latest phase in a $500 million renovation. The first home preseason game is next Thursday against Tennessee.

The Marlins and Miami-Dade County have stepped up spraying in and around Marlins Park "in an abundance of caution," team president David Samson said Thursday. Treatments targeting the mosquito that transmits Zika are being used even though the Marlins play most of their home games indoors under a retractable roof.

Marlins Park is about 2 miles from the nearest area of virus outbreak.

Treatments at the 265-acre Dolphins stadium site include the parking lot and follow recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using chemicals approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Those treatments are expected to continue through the football season and beyond.

Vikings: New stadium sells out for inaugural season
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings have sold out their new stadium for the inaugural season.

The team announced on Thursday that they've started waiting lists for tickets and suites. The official capacity at U.S. Bank Stadium will be 66,655, with more than 60,400 seats committed for the entire season and the remaining single-game seats also sold out.

Returned tickets from visiting team allotments typically make a small number of seats available the week of each game.

The Vikings host San Diego on Sunday in an exhibition game, their first action at the $1.1 billion venue. The regular-season opener is on Sept. 18 against rival Green Bay.

On Eagles' roster bubble, Marcus Smith finally showing signs of improvement

On Eagles' roster bubble, Marcus Smith finally showing signs of improvement

Final cuts are a little over a week away. Marcus Smith is trying to impress a coaching staff that didn't draft him. Steven Means has had a very good preseason. Smith has little to show for his first two NFL seasons.

If time is running out on the former first-round pick from Louisville, it's not weighing on him.

"I try not to think about those things," Smith said. "Just go out there every single day and not worry about what's going on around me because everything will take care of itself."

Smith, in his first year as a 4-3 defensive end after struggling in two seasons as a 3-4 linebacker, missed the preseason game against the Bucs with a concussion but actually played very well Thursday night in Pittsburgh, with four tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry.

It didn't count. But it was the kind of performance the Eagles have been waiting for since they made Smith the 26th pick in the 2014 draft.

Smith played just 68 snaps as a rookie, getting more than seven snaps in only four games. Last year, he played five or fewer snaps in nine of 16 games.

But new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has given Smith every opportunity to shine, and he liked what he saw in Pittsburgh.

"The thing I'm most proud about with Marcus is that he's done a good job in the run game," Schwartz said.

"He's a very skilled athlete. He's fast and he's smooth. I think he was a quarterback when he first went to Louisville. I mean, that stuff shows. Where he's really making good improvement is setting the edge of our defense [and] attacking tackles.

"He did that against a physical group from Pittsburgh. That was a great sign."

Smith was asked about his run defense being an underrated part of his game, and he disagreed with the assessment.

"For myself, it's not an underrated part,  but everybody else thinks that it's underrated because they see me as just a pass rusher," he said.

"But I also know that I can play the run and stop the run and rush the passer at the same time, and when you have both those tools then it allows the coaches to be able to put you in the game more."

When the preseason began, it was just kind of a foregone conclusion that Smith's time in Philly had run out.

Now, he's battling not only for a roster spot, presumably with Means, but also for playing time behind defensive ends Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham.

Smith insists he's not worried about where he fits in on a roster that's loaded on the defensive line.

"I don't think about those things because if you think about things you can't control you tend to not do the things that you're supposed to do," he said.

"So I just worry about what I can control and just get better and play well."

Smith is on three special teams units — kickoff, punt and kickoff return — which gives him a few more opportunities to show he belongs.

More than anything, for the first time since he got to the NFL, he's brimming with confidence.

That, more than anything else, was missing the last two seasons.

"I feel really comfortable just because the scheme and the type of defense that we're playing, it allows me to just be a defensive end and go make plays," he said.

"My confidence level is really high. I feel that when I'm out on the field I can't be stopped."