The Philadelphia Eagles are now 1-3 on the 2015 NFL regular season schedule after being defeated by the Washington Redskins by a final score of 23-20. Here are 10 things we learned from this ugly game. There is a lot to discuss, so let's get right to it.
1) This team is not good and the season might be over
The Eagles aren't good. Through four games this season, they just haven't shown enough to inspire any real confidence. The Birds are 1-3 overall: 0-2 in the division and 0-3 in the conference. The season isn't officially over by any means but it's unlikely they will make the playoffs at this point. There are just too many issues with this squad right now.
2) Sam Bradford might not be totally terrible?
Sam Bradford's stats from this game: 15/28, 270 yards, 9.6 yards per attempt, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 122.6 rating. That passer rating is actually the second best of Bradford's entire career. Still, those numbers look a little better than he actually played on Sunday. Bradford struggled with accuracy at times yet again. This was arguably Bradford's most encouraging performance this season, but he still has a long, long way to go to prove he's a legitimate franchise quarterback.
3) The Eagles have a kicker problem
Caleb Sturgis missed a 33-yard field goal and an extra point in the Eagles' three-point loss. If he makes those, Philadelphia wins. And just for perspective, Cody Parkey hit a 30-yard kick last week with three torn muscles in his groin. I don't like blaming the Eagles' loss on Sturgis because if you're relying on a street free agent kicker to win, you're probably in trouble. You can't put yourself in that situation. But it was clear Sturgis wasn't good before he arrived in Philadelphia, and he doesn't seem like he's going to turn it around. At least he might be good on kickofs ... ?
4) Injuries are taking a toll
Jason Peters, Byron Maxwell, Mychal Kendricks, and Brandon Bair were among key players to leave the game early. The injuries to Peters and Bair are especially notable considering the current lack of depth in the trenches. Peters being gone forced Matt Tobin, who was starting at right guard in place of the injured Andrew Gardner, to left tackle. Bair being out meant the Eagles were down to their fourth defensive end option considering starter Cedric Thornton and top backup Taylor Hart were out. Other key players including right tackle Lane Johnson, nose tackle Bennie Logan, and defensive end Fletcher Cox had to miss at least a couple plays. The team is really hurting right now.
5) Unlikely veterans are stepping up in the passing game
Who would have thought there would be a game this season where Riley Cooper, Brent Celek, and Miles Austin would all score a touchdown? Austin's 39-yard reception for a score was the longest he's had since Week 2 of the 2011 season. Meanwhile, Cooper apparently hates the NFL team with the most offensive name. In his last two games at Washington, he's caught seven passes for 125 yards and three touchdowns.
6) Drops are still a huge, huge issues
I lost track of how many drops there were in this game, but there were a lot. The Eagles entered this game leading the league in drops and I'm pretty sure it's safe to say they've managed to retain that lead. The most crucial drops came in the fourth quarter. Bradford threw a pass behind Sproles that was still catchable but dropped. Then Jordan Matthews may have been hit early but he still had a chance to get his hands on it and make the play but didn't. The Eagles just can't catch.
7) The offense is hurting the defense
By failing to sustain drives, the Eagles are forcing their defense to carry this team. It's just not a recipe for success, especially when the defense is depleted by a number of key injuries. It's not about time of possession in the sense that the Eagles need to run plays slower on offense. It's that they need to sustain drives and get first downs instead of wasting opportunities with drops and penalties. The Eagles defense has allowed an averaged of 21.5 points through four games. A Chip Kelly offense should be able to average more than 21.5 points per game.
8) Expectations were too high
It doesn't fell all that long ago when the Eagles are 3-0 in the preseason and a lot of people (including myself) were predicting a Philadelphia Super Bowl. Lane Johnson admitted the team kind of bought into their hype after the Dallas Cowboys game. Fans and media probably bought in too much, too. That's what makes all of this losing that much more difficult. Expectations were high and the Eagles are coming up way short.
9) Marcus Smith was not a good use of a first round pick
This point doesn't have to do a ton with the loss, but it's a shame for the Eagles that their 2014 first round pick can't even contribute on special teams. For the second time this season, Smith was a healthy scratch. He only played 105 snaps as a rookie, and now he's probably going to be inactive for the rest of the year barring an injury situation that forces him onto the active game day roster.
10) No easy fix for this team
I don't really know what the solution is for this team. The offense is broken. At best, the quarterback is inconsistent. The offensive line can't run block very well so the running game isn't alive. The pass catchers can't catch. It's a systematic failure right now, and it doesn't look like things are going to get better any time soon.