Philadelphia Eagles

10 observations from Eagles-Lions

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10 observations from Eagles-Lions

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DETROIT — From 1933 through the Miami game, three quarterbacks threw five touchdowns and no interceptions in a game against the Eagles. Frank Filchock in 1944, Don Meredith in 1966 and Eli Manning in 2012 in Andy Reid’s final game.

Now two have done it in the span of five days.

Nothing illustrates just how wretched the Eagles have become better than that.

After one of the worst two-game stretches in Eagles history — a 45-17 loss to the Bucs Sunday and a 45-14 loss to the Lions on Thursday (see Instant Replay) — it’s hard to imagine owner Jeff Lurie allowing this to continue without people losing their jobs.

So here is my Thanksgiving Day edition of Roob’s 10 observations.

And I didn’t even get to mention how bad Big Sean was.

1. Jeff Lurie is a patient guy, and a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have imagined any scenario in which he would make a coaching change after the season. Not when Chip Kelly went 10-6 his first two years. Not when he made what’s really designed to be a long-term move by giving him GM powers. But I don’t think anybody imagined it would get this bad this fast. The Eagles the last three weeks have played some of the worst football in franchise history. And that’s not hyperbole. They blew a 13-point lead at home, they became the first team in NFL history to allow a QB to throw five touchdowns and a back to run for 230 yards in the same game — again at home — and then they allowed three passing TDs in the first half for a second straight week for the first time in franchise history. This is uncharted waters. Honestly, this feels like 1994, Kotite’s last year. It feels like 1998, Ray Rhodes' last year. It feels like 2012, Big Red’s last year. A month ago I never dreamed I’d say this, but watching the Eagles these last few weeks, I don’t see how Lurie can bring Chip back for a fourth year (here's Kelly on the loss).

2. Another part of the equation for Lurie is that he’s very big on public perception. Lurie can’t be happy with the way Chip has handled the losing streak in public. He’s come across as unlikeable, arrogant and condescending these last few weeks, and if Lurie is teetering about whether to fire Kelly or not at the end of the season, Kelly’s demeanor could be a factor. Lurie wants a coach who is a classy, likeable front man for the organization, and Kelly has been anything but. You really tell a lot more about a man by how he handles losing than winning, and Kelly has really managed to turn off an entire city this year. If I was Lurie, I wouldn’t want him anywhere near my football team anymore (here are the players on Kelly).

3. Once upon a time — like a month ago — this was a pretty good secondary. I know, it’s hard to believe now, but the Eagles were 10th in the NFL seven weeks into the season with 10 touchdown passes allowed. They were battling for the ball, they were challenging receivers, they were tackling, they were aggressive and confident. Now they’re the second team in NFL history to allow five touchdown passes in back-to-back games (see story). I don’t even know how it’s possible to go from where they were to where they are. Somewhere along the line, this defense simply lost its heart. Lost its will. Lost its fight. I’m not entirely sure how much of it is Bill Davis’ fault, but I don’t think anybody would be surprised if Davis pays with his job as soon as the Eagles’ charter lands in Philly Thursday night.

4. To put the secondary’s performance in perspective: During the five years from 2000 through 2004, only three quarterbacks threw as many as three TDs in a game vs. Eagles — Brady, Peyton and Patrick Ramsey. In 2000, the Eagles allowed 11 passing touchdowns all year. Bobby. Troy. Dawk. Damon Moore. Times have changed.

5. This franchise has been around a long time, but this is the first time the Eagles have ever allowed 45 points in consecutive games. Think about that for a moment. They just allowed 90 points in five days. That ought to be impossible. The Eagles are making history all right.

6. Remember when we were all concerned that the Eagles might not go 3-0 against the three last-place teams they were about to face? In the span of 12 days, they got beat by three teams that were 7-17 at the start of this stretch. By a combined 110-43.

7. Back to Chip for a minute. He will now become the first Eagles coach since Marion Campbell in the mid-1980s to fail to advance to the second round of the playoffs in his first three seasons. Buddy Ryan won the NFC East in 1988 and got a first-round bye, Rich Kotite beat the Saints in a wild-card game at the Superdome in his second year, Ray Rhodes beat the Lions at the Vet in a wild-card in his first year, and by his third year, Andy Reid had reached the conference semifinals twice and gotten to an NFC championship game. This is three years now. And the Eagles are right back where they were when he got here. Except without LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Evan Mathis and next year’s second-round pick.

8. The Eagles have one takeaway during this three-game losing streak. And it was by Zach Ertz. That pretty much says it all.

9. Attention, Mr. Brady: No NFL team has ever allowed five touchdown passes in three straight games.

10. I’m hesitant to single out one guy after a loss like this, but it is just impossible to watch DeMarco Murray play football (more on Murray here). This franchise has such a proud history of running backs. Just in the last 20 years, we’ve seen Ricky Watters, Duce Staley, Correll Buckhalter, Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy come through Philly and run the ball with the hard-nosed mentality of a defensive player. I don’t know how Murray led the NFL in rushing last year. I guess that monstrous offensive line had a lot to do with it. But Murray just doesn’t even compete out there. He plays football like he doesn’t want to be playing football. Murray had another brutal performance Thursday, carrying 14 times for 30 yards for 2.1 yards per carry. I saw some life out of Kenjon Barner, who ran seven times for 30 yards late in the game. It’s time to sit Murray down and let him watch. I don’t care how much money he’s making. Enough.

Ronald Darby gives glimpse of why Howie Roseman pulled trigger on trade

Ronald Darby gives glimpse of why Howie Roseman pulled trigger on trade

The Eagles trading of receiver Jordan Matthews was met with mixed reviews.

The arguments ranged from fair to, frankly, kind of silly. I definitely understand the numbers. He was crazy productive in his three seasons with the Eagles and became a reliable target for franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. Plus, he's Wentz's bff and Carson was super sad.

But seriously, I don't want to take away from what Matthews meant to his teammates, especially Wentz. But the reality is he's a limited, slot receiver who likely would've commanded too much money to return next season.

Here's the bottom line: Ronald Darby showed on Thursday why Howie Roseman pulled the trigger on trading Matthews and a third-round pick.

So you may wonder, why would the Bills give up on a 23-year-old corner if he's so promising?

You all know the story by now. After having a tremendous rookie season, Darby struggled in Year 2. The former second-round pick was limited with a hamstring injury early in the season and suffered a concussion in Week 12. Factor health in with a Bills defense that struggled as a unit and a team entrenched in turmoil that resulted in the firing of its head coach and GM, and Darby wasn't exactly set up for success.

Darby also didn't fit the mold of what Buffalo is now looking for in a corner. New head coach Sean McDermott utilized long corners when he was in Carolina. After losing veterans Josh Norman and Charles Tillman, the Panthers drafted James Bradberry and Daryl Worley in 2016. Both measured at 6-foot-1 with 33 3/8" arms at the combine. Darby also excels in man coverage. Last season under McDermott, Carolina played more zone coverage than any team in the NFL.

Darby is by no means perfect. The positives: crazy fast, quick feet, tremendous anticipation. The negatives: suspect hands, not a great tackler, gets lost in zone coverage at times. All of that was on display against his former team Thursday.

On his first snap, he missed an open field tackle against LeSean McCoy. Who cares? So have most of the DBs in the league. Besides, his main job is to cover receivers. Give me a corner that can stick an opposing team's No. 1 receiver over one that's a good tackler any day of the week.

With that said, Darby looked explosive in coverage. During the Bills' second possession on 2nd-and-10, Tyrod Taylor was looking for Anquan Boldin on a 10-yard out. Darby breaks up the play and there's so much to like about it. Darby is playing off man, giving Boldin a cushion. Darby has one eye on Boldin and the other on the quarterback. He's able to time it perfectly and use his speed to close the gap quickly. The only thing you'd like to see is him finish the play. It's an easy pick six if he does. 

Speaking of finishing, Darby didn't waste his second opportunity. Still in the first quarter, Taylor decides to take a shot down the field after a LeGarrette Blount fumble. Boldin tries to beat him with a double move but Darby doesn't take the cheese (something he did often at Florida State). Taylor faces heavy pressure from the Eagles' front and heaves it up for grabs. Darby snags it and goes 48 yards on the return.

The most impressive thing on both plays is Darby's ability to keep his eyes on the quarterback while maintaining coverage. That's what allows him to anticipate throws and recognize routes so well. For years the Eagles have lacked a corner with the ability to turn around and play the football. Darby's unbelievable speed and foot quickness allows him to do so.

To keep this in perspective, Darby was facing a quarterback in Taylor that he saw an awful lot of over the last two-plus years. He was also covering the 36-year-old Boldin, who's been with Buffalo for a little over a week. But impressive none the less.

Does one preseason game mean Darby is the next Darrelle Revis? Of course not.

But he has a chance to be a pretty damn good corner.

Former Eagles' draft pick Jordan Poyer excited for opportunity with Bills

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Former Eagles' draft pick Jordan Poyer excited for opportunity with Bills

And then there's the former Eagle on the Bills who is a little less famous.
 
It was cataclysmic when Chip Kelly traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills. It was historic when Howie Roseman traded Jordan Matthews to the Bills.
 
Jordan Poyer's journey from Philly to Buffalo is a little bit different and a whole lot less well-known. But the one-time Eagles draft pick has become an important part of Sean McDermott's defense.
 
Poyer, who signed as a free agent with the Bills this past offseason, was the second of three Eagles seventh-round picks in 2013. He made the team as a long-shot cornerback and played in three games as a rookie before getting released on Oct. 19 so the Eagles could sign running back Matthew Tucker off their practice squad.
 
The Eagles hoped to land Poyer on the practice squad, but the Browns claimed him, and he wound up spending four years in Cleveland, playing in 45 games and starting four last year with two interceptions before his season ended with a horrific injury — a lacerated kidney.
 
He finally escaped Cleveland this spring, signing a four-year, $13 million deal with the Bills that includes $7.4 million in guaranteed money and he goes into the regular season as the Bills' starting free safety.
 
Not bad for the 46th defensive back taken in the 2013 draft.
 
“Being in Philadelphia, starting my career here was huge," Poyer said Thursday night after the Eagles-Bills preseason game at the Linc.
 
"I’m in Year 5 now and you never know what would have happened if I didn’t start out here, start my career here. It was a big part of my foundation, learning the NFL game."
 
The Browns went 12-47 while Poyer was in Cleveland, and he played under three head coaches and four defensive coordinators during his stay with Cleveland.
 
“It was a challenge," he said, shaking his head. "We all play this game to win football games. That’s the name of the business, the name of the game. That’s why we start playing when we’re little. Anytime you’re not winning it’s always tough.
 
"I’m trying to put that time of my life behind me now, I’m here in Buffalo now and happy here."

But the one good thing that happened to Poyer in Cleveland was the switch from corner to safety.
 
“It's a lot different and it took some time," he said. "But I feel good about it, felt good about making the switch. Took it and ran with it and learned the position.
 
"It's still a new position, and I still have a lot of things to learn, but I feel like it was good for me. Really one of the best things to happen to my career."

In Buffalo, Poyer's head coach, McDermott, and defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier, are both former Eagles secondary coaches. Nobody has a better feel for the secondary than McDermott, who played in the same secondary as Mike Tomlin at William & Mary and worked under Jim Johnson for a decade in Philly before going to a Super Bowl with Ron Rivera in Carolina.

"It's a great situation for me with Sean and Leslie," Poyer said. "Sean coaches us every day, helps us get better, helps get the whole football team better. I learn something from him every day."
 
Poyer has played in more games than 24 of the defensive backs drafted ahead of him in 2013 and in more games than all but five of the 47 other seventh-round picks that year.
 
The only defensive back the Eagles have taken in the seventh round the last 50 years who's played in more career games is Kurt Coleman, another player who revived his career under McDermott.
 
To go from seventh-round pick to $7½ million in guaranteed money is quite a story, but Poyer is so grounded he said he doesn't really think about the big picture of his career arc.
 
“During the season, you’re moving so fast you don’t really have time to sit back and look at what you’ve accomplished or how far you’ve come," he said.
 
"At the end of the season or at the end of my career I’ll look back on it and soak in everything that I had to go through and got to where I am now, but right now, I'm just focused on getting ready (for opening day).
 
"Philly gave me a good opportunity, made a lot of good friends here and now excited to be here in Buffalo."