10 observations from Eagles-Redskins


10 observations from Eagles-Redskins


Deep down, you knew they weren’t going to accomplish anything this year. Deep down, you knew this was inevitable.

Tonight’s 10 Observations puts a bow on a completely miserable Eagles season.

For the seventh straight year, there will be no playoff victory for the Eagles. For the ninth straight year, there won’t be a playoff win at home. And for the 55th straight year, there won’t be an NFL championship in Philly. The Eagles lost, 38-24, to the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field (see Instant Replay).

It’s ugly. It’s miserable. It’s grim. It’s embarrassing. It’s pathetic.

1. Enough of the pretending. Enough of all the talk about the playoffs. Now we can take a long, hard, honest look at what the Philadelphia Eagles really are: A 6-9 team that doesn’t do anything particularly well, has only a handful of elite players, allowed 38 or more points in three of its last four home games, has allowed a franchise-record 34 passing touchdowns and early in the Giants game will become the second team in NFL history to allow 6,000 yards three straight seasons. This is a bad team that’s getting worse under the stewardship of Chip Kelly. The product they’ve consistently put on the field this year is an embarrassment, and the extent of the embarrassment was masked only slightly the last month or so by the poor excuse for a playoff race the Eagles found themselves in. Chip Kelly inexplicably gutted the roster of its talent and gutted the locker room of its swagger, and this is the result. Kelly deserves to be back as head coach next year because of the 10-6 seasons his first two years. But Jeff Lurie cannot allow him to continue with final say over personnel decisions. Lurie must find a respected, veteran general manager to start the long task of rebuilding this roster into a group that legitimately contend for a championship. Kelly has done enough damage.

2. Let’s put some context on Kelly’s first three seasons as head coach of the Eagles: He is the first Eagles head coach since the Swamp Fox — Marion Campbell — who failed to advance a round in the playoffs in his first three years. And Campbell coached in the mid-1980s. Buddy Ryan won the NFC East and got a first-round bye in his third year. Rich Kotite won a wild-card game in his second year. Ray Rhodes won a wild-card game in his first year. And Andy Reid got to the conference semifinals in his second year and an NFC Championship Game in his third year. Kelly has less to show for his first three years than any Eagles head coach in 30 years. That’s pitiful.

3. I still honestly have no clue how to evaluate Sam Bradford. Hard to ask for any more than he gave Saturday night. Threw for 380 yards and a touchdown and got no help. None. There are so many moving parts to this story. Does Chip want him back? And at what price? Does Bradford even want to come back here next year? And who else will pursue him? And at what price? And what are the options? Maybe Chip is intrigued by Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaepernick. Bradford’s numbers were very good Saturday night. But when you take into account all the drops, the lack of help from his offensive line and the absence of a running game, they were very impressive. He didn’t get the Eagles a win, but I’m not sure what else he could have done.

4. I would love to see what Bradford could do with the receivers Kirk Cousins has. They are just such non-factors. Somebody tweeted to me Saturday night asking if Todd Pinkston were available, and the sad truth is Pink would be the Eagles’ second-best receiver right now behind Jordan Matthews. The scary thing is the Eagles have devoted so many resources to restocking the wide receiver position after cutting ties with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. A second-round pick and a third-round pick last year on Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff and a first-round pick this year on Nelson Agholor. Not to mention some guaranteed money on Miles Austin. The Eagles have too many needs to keep drafting wide receivers with premium draft picks, so they just have to hope Agholor can blossom next year and somehow Huff can finally take that next step. Because whoever is playing quarterback for this team next year deserves an NFL-caliber group of wideouts. They didn’t have one this year.

5. Pretty clear now that Kelly has to make a change at defensive coordinator. I don’t think all the problems are Bill Davis’ fault. Certainly it’s tough running a defense when the offense is running tempo, and there’s clearly not a ton of talent here. But the Eagles are so historically bad something has to change. They’ve allowed 34 passing touchdowns, most in franchise history. They’ve allowed 400 yards in six straight games, something only four other NFL teams have ever done. Early in the Giants game, they’ll become only the second team in NFL history to allow 6,000 total yards in three straight seasons. This is just unprecedented stuff. I just don’t see how Chip can bring Davis back next year.

6. The Eagles’ inability to play competitive football at home is one of the more disturbing trends of the year. They lost by 10 to Dallas, by 28 to the Bucs, by 23 to the Cards and by 14 Saturday night. That’s just mind-boggling. If you’re routinely getting blown out in your own stadium, that’s a sign of a team that’s just not prepared to play football. They’re not just losing at home, they’re getting humiliated. This is the first time they lost four home games by 14 or more points since 1976. Just unacceptable. Embarrassing. Pathetic.

7. Some of these stats are just numbing. The Eagles allowed 33 touchdown passes in 2012, the Nnamdi year. They allowed 30 last year, the Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams year. This year, they allowed more. They’re at 34 now, which is 17th-most in NFL history with a game to play. Two more Sunday gets them to 36, which would be seventh-most in NFL history. How can they be this bad? Part of it is pass rush, which has been largely up and down. Mainly down. But most of it is just guys roaming free and nobody there to cover them. When you see the same problems popping up again and again with the same coach and a different set of players, you know where to place the blame.

8. Seven years without a playoff win. That’s just unthinkable. From 2000 through 2008, the Eagles had only two years without a playoff win. This is the Eagles’ longest drought without a playoff win since 1981 through 1991 and matches their longest drought without reaching the conference semifinals since 1961 through 1978. Chip, what have you done with this football team?

9. We’ve spent a lot of time criticizing Kiko Alonso, but I’ll tell you what, Mychal Kendricks has not played a whole lot better than Alonso. After the way he performed the last two years, he’s been one of this team’s biggest disappointments.

10. Finally, this. I don’t think Lurie fires Kelly. But, man, I wouldn’t be shocked if he does. And honestly, I wouldn’t blame him. Down the stretch, the Eagles lost five of their last seven games, four of them in embarrassing fashion, three of those at home. This is a bad football team with not much hope for the near future. It’s one thing to lose. It’s another to just not be able to compete with teams like the Bucs, Lions and Redskins. This is a wretched football team, and it’s not going to be an easy process turning this around.

Eagles-Vikings 5 things: Game much bigger than Sam Bradford's return

Eagles-Vikings 5 things: Game much bigger than Sam Bradford's return

Eagles vs. Vikings
1 p.m. on FOX

Eagles +3

A familiar face comes to town on Sunday when the Eagles host the Vikings, the NFL's last unbeaten team at 5-0.

There's more to this matchup than a certain jilted quarterback returning to Lincoln Financial Field though. After an inspired 3-0 start, the Eagles have come out flat in two consecutive games, both losses. If this squad has any hope of getting back on track in Week 7, they can't afford to focus on the high-profile former teammate in purple sleeves.

Grinding it out
How good is the Vikings' defense? Even though they're ranked fourth in the league against the run and eighth in yards per carry allowed, they've faced the second-highest number of rushing attempts. Simply put, between a fierce pass-rush and ball-hawking secondary, offenses are afraid to put the ball in the air against this team.

Opponents have decided the best way to beat the Minnesota defense is by keeping the ball on the ground — shorten the game, try to create manageable third downs and play the field position game. Of course, the best way for the Eagles to beat Washington's 28th-ranked run defense last week, with a fifth-round rookie right tackle making his first career start mind you, also would've been to hand the ball off early and often, which wasn't exactly the game plan that we saw.

As good as Carson Wentz is, the Eagles probably aren't going to beat this team by airing the ball out. It may be inefficient and look ugly, but this time, head coach Doug Pederson needs to lean on the ground attack and take the pressure off of his first-year quarterback and tackle. Otherwise, a Vikings defense that ranks third in the NFL in sacks and fourth in interceptions can take this game over.

Self-inflicted wounds
Ticky-tack calls or not, you can't blame the judgment of the officials for all of the penalties the Eagles have taken the past two weeks. Last week in Washington, they drew 13 flags for 114 yards. The week before, it was 14 flags for 111 yards. Is it really any coincidence in two losses the Eagles have been penalized 27 times for 225 yards? Unlikely.

Were one or two or even a handful of those calls excessive? Have officials missed some potential calls that could have gone the other way? Yes and yes, as is always the case. When it's that many penalties for that many yards though, you can only place so much blame on the refs.

Simply put, the players need to clean up their acts. According to TeamRankings.com, the Eagles are committing the most penalties per game at 9.8. Only one other team is above 9.0. All excuses aside, the Eagles lack discipline right now, and it's hard to beat anybody when they are continuously shooting themselves in the foot, let alone the only undefeated squad in football.

No gimmes
There is no bigger indicator of winning and losing in the NFL than turnovers. So what happens when the two teams who cough the ball up the least are going head-to-head?

One thing the Eagles did correct in Washington was the little giveaway problem that cost them the game in Detroit. After losing their first fumble and throwing their first interception of the season in the final three minutes of their loss at Detroit, the offense went back to playing turnover-free football on Sunday, one of the positive things that could be said for the performance.

Yet the only team that's committed fewer turnovers than the Eagles is the Vikings, who have just one through five games. The ball security these clubs have displayed is remarkable bordering on unheard of. So what happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? The first one to blink, or in this case make a mistake, might just cost themselves the game in what could be a tightly contested tilt.

Just a pit stop
If it feels like the Eagles' 34-3 romp of the Steelers at the Linc was a long time ago, well, it has been almost a month. Since then, there's been a bye week followed by trips to Detroit and Washington, putting the last home game at exactly four weeks ago.

Don't get used to the feeling either. After their game against the Vikings on Sunday, the Eagles go back on the road for two contests against the division rival Cowboys and Giants.

What does it all mean? Besides a travel-heavy stretch, it suggests this sandwich game with the Vikings is an especially significant spot on the Eagles' schedule, particularly given the slow starts they've jumped out to as the visiting team of late. That can't be blamed entirely on going on the road of course, but it certainly hasn't helped. Vikings or not, the Eagles could use a positive showing on Sunday before they go away again.

The Bradford Bowl
You didn't really think we were going to completely gloss over Sam Bradford, did you? Not even mention his name?

It's interesting, because right now, the trade that sent Bradford to the Vikings and cleared the way for Wentz to start at quarterback for the Eagles looks like a win-win. Both head coaches agreed with that sentiment as well. Mike Zimmer says Bradford gave the Vikings an energy back after starter Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with an improbable injury, while despite coming back down to earth a bit the last two weeks, it's obvious the Eagles' future is bright with Wentz.

That being said, there are some additional bragging rights at stake for both signal-callers this week, whether they acknowledge it or not. If the Eagles win, it shows their gamble on Wentz being prepared to start right away was justified. If the Vikings win, pundits could argue the Eagles never should've traded Bradford in the first place.

These are only narratives of course, and the Eagles' investment in Wentz and the Vikings' desperation trade for Bradford are both left to be judged somewhere down the road, long after this game has been played. Nonetheless, the result on Sunday is sure to spark some interesting debate in the coming days.

Eagles-Vikings predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Vikings predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles are coming off two straight losses and the slate doesn't get any easier with the 5-0 Vikings coming to town.

It also marks the return of Sam Bradford, who was traded just before Week 1, paving the way for rookie Carson Wentz to start.

The Eagles kick off against Minnesota at the Linc on Sunday at 1 p.m., so it's time for our (cough) experts' predictions for the Week 7 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (2-3)
I'll admit, this game just has a weird feel. It has the feeling like the Eagles might be able to catch the Vikings sleeping after their bye week and hand them their first loss of the season.

I was almost tempted to pick the Birds in this one.

But I'm not.

Ultimately, the Vikings are just the better team. I'm not sure how the Eagles are going to put up points against them. And I'm not convinced the Eagles' defense will be able to stop anyone after what we saw last weekend.

They keep it close, but the Birds fall to 3-3.

Vikings 20, Eagles 17

Derrick Gunn (2-3)
The good news is Minnesota's offense is ranked 30th in the league and the Vikings' run game is dead last averaging 70.6 yards per game. 

The bad news is the Vikings' defense is a monster, ranked 2nd overall and first in points allowed at 12.6.

There is not a weak link in the Vikings' D and they are fundamentally sound across the board. The Eagles' defense vows that what happened to them at Washington — allowing 230 rushing yards — won't happen again. 

Carson Wentz got roughed up by the Redskins' pass rush, and unless the Eagles' offensive line plugs the leaks, more of the same could happen this Sunday. The Birds have every reason to rebound at home, but I just don't like the overall matchup. 

Vikings 20, Eagles 13

Ray Didinger (2-3)
The Vikings aren't going undefeated. You don't go 16-0 in the NFL with a 30th ranked offense which is what the Vikings have. Yes, their defense is very good. Going back to last season they have held each of their last nine opponents to 17 points or less. They are deep, fast and well-coached by Mike Zimmer. But the offense led by Sam Bradford coughs and sputters a lot.
As a result, the Vikings will play a lot of close, low-scoring games and somewhere along the line they are going to lose. It could even happen this week when they play the Eagles. Special teams could be huge. The Eagles have a big edge with kicker Caleb Sturgis. Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has already missed three field goals and two PATs. However, the Vikings return men -- Marcus Sherels on punts, Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs -- are very dangerous. I expect the Eagles to keep it close but in the end I have to go with the superior defense.
Vikings 21, Eagles 16

Andrew Kulp (2-3)
Which Eagles defense shows up on Sunday? If they can limit Minnesota's anemic ground attack, which ranks dead last in the NFL, this should be a close game. Sam Bradford is playing really well, but it's not like he's airing it out all over the place.

Then it becomes a question of how Halapoulivaati Vaitai responds to a rough debut. The Vikings pass-rush is fierce, so it doesn't get any easier this week. As long as the protection gives Carson Wentz a chance, that will at least give the rookie signal-caller a shot at making a few big plays.

For some reason, I like their chances at both. It's going to be another ugly one, but the Eagles do just enough to squeak by.

Eagles 20, Vikings 19

Corey Seidman (2-3)
I foresee a low-scoring game in which the Eagles are more competitive than some might think.

But in the end, the Vikings have the personnel and the defensive-minded head coach (Mike Zimmer) to get key stops down the stretch.

Vikings 20, Eagles 16

Andy Schwartz (1-4)
You’re still reading? 

Well good for you. Much appreciated. 

Because clearly I don’t know what to expect from this team. 

But let’s forget all that for the moment and look at the Bradford Bowl. 

The Vikings’ offense is hardly scary (30th in the league in yards per game behind the Rams and Niners), but their defense is (second in yards per game behind Seattle).

The Eagles’ offense is hardly scary (22nd in yards per game), and their defense (sixth in yards per game) was pretty scary a few weeks ago.

So let’s look at the intangibles. Which team needs this game more? The Eagles. And they’re at home. 

But given the outcomes the last two weeks and that Minnesota is unbeaten and coming off a bye, it certainly makes sense to pick the Vikes, who are favored by 2.5.

Then again, the Eagles not too long ago were unbeaten and coming off a bye … and we all know what happened.

So I’ll say the Birds pull off another upset and remain unbeaten at the Linc. 

Just don’t bet on it.

Eagles 6, Vikings 5