The Philadelphia Eagles are 9-5 after losing to the Dallas Cowboys by a final score of 38-27. Huge loss for the Birds.
Here are 10 things to be learned from this game. There is a lot to discuss, so let's get right to it.
1) Terrible start
Final score: Eagles lose to Cowboys
The Philadelphia Eagles were by defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, 38-27. The Eagles dropped to 9-5 on the 2014 NFL Season. Read on for a drive-by-drive recap of the game. Up next for Philadelphia is a road game against the Washington Redskins.
It's hard to say the first play of a game decides the entire outcome. There are 60 minutes to be played and the first play is just a little part. But man, the way that game started was just awful for the Eagles. The crowd was pumped. The players looked pumped. The Eagles won the coin toss and had a great opportunity to set the tone against a lackluster Dallas defense. Then they just blew it. Dan Bailey booted the opening kick short (on purpose?) and it took a weird bounce back to the receiving team. Josh Huff was expecting the ball to come to him, which I think it's hard to blame him for, but it didn't. The Cowboys recovered. The Eagles special teams unit has been so good this year; arguably the best in league. So what the hell was that?
2) Mark Sanchez is a backup quarterback
Mark Sanchez is a backup quarterback. Nothing more, nothing less. He's not good enough to be a viable starter in the NFL. He can have some good games here and there, yes, and that's what makes him a quality backup to have around. There are certainly worse backup quarterbacks in the NFL.
Sanchez was terrible in this game. He missed easy throws and made bad decisions.
3) Secondary needs upgrades
A lot of credit is due to Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for making plays. Other times the Eagles just weren't good enough in coverage. Look how wide open Bryant is on this play. The Eagles' secondary members don't deserve to be ripped for a lack of effort. It's a talent issue. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are both No. 2 cornerbacks on a good day. Today was certainly not a good day for either. Fletcher was toasted often by Bryant and Williams was called for two costly illegal contact penalties. Even Brandon Boykin seemed to allow a lot of receptions in coverage.
The Eagles secondary has been an issue all season. Sometimes they can manage to get by opponents despite this weaknesses. Sunday night obviously wasn't one of those cases.
4) Chip Kelly's worst game
This has to be Chip Kelly's worst game since being hired in Philadelphia. There have been worse losses in terms of margin of defeat, sure, but this game was really important and it was at home and the Eagles just blew it. They came out of the gate flat and that's partially on him. Kelly isn't a bad coach by any means. Quite the opposite. This was just a bad game and it came at an awful time for the Birds.
5) The Eagles might not make the playoffs
I already covered this in a separate post, but to reiterate: it's very possible the Eagles could go 11-5 and miss the playoffs. Winning a wild card spot won't be easy and the Eagles will need hope the Cowboys falter in order to reclaim the NFC East.
6) Nick Foles is not the (immediate) answer
Mark Sanchez sucks! Bring back Nick Foles! That's the thought on everyone's mind, right? Well, I hate to break it to you, but Foles probably isn't going to solve the Eagles woes. Look, he wasn't even playing that well prior to getting hurt. And who is to say he will be ready to play this Saturday? He still hasn't been officially cleared to practice yet. He'll likely need to be ready by Tuesday because it's a short week. It's just hard to imagine Foles coming off a fractured collarbone and suddenly playing well. That's not even a slight to Foles. It's the reality of any quarterback dealing with his current injury situation. Foles can't just be healthy enough to play; he needs to be healthy enough to take hits in order to prevent future damage to his collarbone. It can be debated whether or not Foles is the long-term answer in Philadelphia. Given his injury situation, he's definitely not the slam-dunk short-term option. Sanchez isn't an ideal option either, but at least he's healthy enough to play.
7) Run game isn't good enough
LeSean McCoy isn't able to carry the team like he did last year. There were times on Sunday night where it looked like he had opportunities to break runs for bigger gains but he would get wrapped up instead of making someone miss. 16 carries for 64 yards isn't bad. It's not great, though. McCoy's longest run was only 14 yards.
8) Huff is consistently inconsistent
I already discussed the kickoff debacle above, but how about that 44-yard reception Huff made? I thought he was going to be tackled well short of the chains. Huff clearly has some talent. Perhaps a full offseason will make a difference.
9) Riley Cooper needs to go
Riley Cooper’s last 6 games: 32 targets, 17 catches, 156 yards, 9.18 average, 0 TD.
10) The season isn't over... yet.
There's still an outside chance the Eagles can make the playoffs.
But does anyone even want to see this team limp in the playoffs? Some people will say no. Others will argue that it's win at all costs.
Look, the Eagles have very real issues that needed to be addressed in the offseason. No one is denying that. But for now, let's let the final two games play out and see what happens.