ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Fred Jackson(notes) #22 of the Buffalo Bills runs against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 9, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Another game, another inexplicable implosion... and folks, it's getting crazier by the week. Back in week two, it was a hard to believe drop from Jeremy Maclin at the very end to thwart a possible game winning drive. In week three Michael Vick gets hurt and Mike Kafka comes in and throws two picks to end it. In week four Maclin fumbles on a potential game winning drive. Today? Well today, we got creative.
First, the Eagles offense finally gets rolling in the fourth quarter and looks pretty much unstoppable. Down 10 they've first and goal before they start going backwards. Consecutive penalties puts them back out near the 30 and settle for a field goal. They quickly get the ball back and are once again driving down the field when for the second time in the game, Jason Avant has a ball taken right out of his hands for a turnover. The stat sheet will show an interception for Michael Vick, but in reality he had nothing to do with it.
But wait, as if that wasn't enough. The Eagles defense actually stops the Bills on three downs to force a 4th and less than a yard with about a minute left. The Bills elect to line up to go for it with everyone in the world knowing that they're just trying to draw the Eagles offsides. What happens? The oldest and most experienced player on the team, Juqua Parker, jumps offsides. Game over.
The vortex of errors and futility that has ensnared the Eagles this season is hard to explain. The end of the game was just the part that hurt the worst, but really that type of stuff happened all afternoon. We can't forget the comical end to the first half where the Eagles ran a play with :08 left rather than kick a FG, letting the half run out in the process. They turned the ball over five times, two thanks to Avant, while Michael Vick was charged with the hardest luck four INT game that you'll ever see (although the pick 6 was 100% on him). He did throw for 315 yards, 2 TDs and ran for another 90 to become the NFL's all time leading rusher among QBs.
There were a lot more mistakes than will show up on the stat sheet though. The tackling in this game was worse than it has been all year, which is really saying something. And for all those that wanted to blame the inability to stop the run on the "wide nine" today was a rude awakening for you. The Eagles played much tighter gaps and mostly got away from the formation today and if anything the run defense got worse. Certainly the absence of Trent Cole was a part of that, but the same issues (tackling, gap responsibility, getting off blocks) were just as glaring today as they were when the "wide nine" was in full deployment. It should be painfully obvious that no change to the system can hide or mask how bad this defense is right now.
Is there even a point to say that drastic changes need to be made? We've been saying this for weeks and yet only little tweeks are made. I don't know that we can pin this all on Juan Castillo, certainly these players aren't making plays, but we can pin enough on him to know he's not able to be a defensive coordinator in the league. Jarrad Page should be cut tomorrow. Literally anyone would be better than him right and the fact that Juan waited until the very end of the game to finally bench is cause enough for him to be fired.... The fact that Jarrad Page is out there missing tackles and killing the team every Sunday while your rookie second round safety Jaiquawn Jarrett is sitting on the sideline inactive is galling.
But honestly, that's just one of many things I could rant for an hour about regarding this team. It's bad. It's embarrassing and in all likelihood, it's the end. The end for playoff hopes, the end for Juan Castillo and very possibly the end for Andy Reid. Last week, I asked whether they had hit rock bottom. It appears as though they did not. Not even close.