The Philadelphia Eagles are now 4-5 on the 2015 NFL regular season schedule after being defeated by the Miami Dolphins by a final score of 20 to 19. Here are 10 things we learned from this terrible game. There is a lot to discuss, so let's get right to it.
1) The Eagles can get off to a fast start after all
... and then blow it. The Eagles have been rightfully criticized for getting off to really bad starts in games. Well, they finally got off to a good start against Miami and absolutely blew it. It's really incredible how this happened. It looked like the Eagles were poised to stomp all over this weak Dolphins team that was missing some key players (starting right tackle Ju'Wuan James, cornerback Brent Grimes). Instead, they totally collapsed. The blame ultimately goes on Chip Kelly.
2) Sam Bradford's injury comes at a terrible time
The exact severity of Bradford's injury isn't known. Here's what we do know: he suffered some kind of shoulder injury and the x-rays were negative. Along with the shoulder injury, he also suffered a concussion. So that's not ideal for the Eagles. Bradford was playing relatively well before leaving the game. He finished 19/25 for 236 yards (9.4 average), one touchdown, zero interceptions, and an 118.1 rating. Bradford was far from perfect. He overthrew a wide open Zach Ertz at one point before then throwing behind him. His awful interception before the second half was wiped out due to a generous roughing the passer penalty. But Bradford's injury comes at the worst time now because it looked like he was making some progress at this point in the season. And that trade condition where the Eagles get a fourth round pick back from the Rams if Bradford plays less than 50% of the offensive snaps in Philadelphia just voided. Really bad luck for the Eagles.
3) Mark Sanchez didn't look bad at all
Sanchez's numbers look worse than he played: 14/23, 156 yards (6.8 average), zero touchdowns, one interception, 63 passer rating. I'm not going to tell you Sanchez looked great, because he didn't, and he's certainly not the team's long-term answer at quarterback ... but he could have been worse coming off the bench in short notice. He threw a pair of touchdown passes that got canceled out late in the game before he threw an interception. The offensive pace (anecdotally) looked faster with him. He did have some issues with communication when it came to hand offs to DeMarco Murray and passes to receivers such as Miles Austin. The team will have to rely on Sanchez if Bradford is going to be out for a bit.
4) The offensive line isn't reliable
Philadelphia's make-shift offensive line did a respectable job in Dallas last week, but they weren't nearly as effective today. The ground game couldn't get going against a Miami defense that ranks poorly against the run. The Eagles finished with a mere 83 yards on 36 carries (2.3 average). Philadelphia allowed four sacks. Chip Kelly highlighted the interior of the offensive line as a big issue. Jason Kelce was especially bad. The team's starting center was penalized multiples times and got blown up too often. After the game, Kelce called it the worst performance of his career. He's not wrong.
5) Miles Austin is really good!
Nah. He's bad. Really bad. He's so bad. He's not good. He was terrible. Just awful. He dropped a perfectly placed ball from Sam Bradford on third down that would have put the team in field goal range (at least). He wasn't on the same page with Mark Sanchez and stopped running a route in the end zone which contributed to the backup quarterback's interception. He didn't even look for the ball as he was wide open and ran a crossing route on the Eagles' final drive. Keep in mind this is a guy Chip Kelly decided to give $2.3 million ($1.0 million guaranteed) this season. What a signing.
6) Special teams isn't so special
The missed 32-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis wasn't the only issue. Donnie Jones had a punt blocked to set the Dolphins up with great field position. That marks the second time this season Jones has had one of his punts blocked. Jon Dorenbos struggled with his long snaps throughout the day, including on the missed attempt by Sturgis. Philadelphia's special teams unit was so critical to their success in 2014. It hasn't been nearly as good this year.
7) The tight ends are alive
Here's a positive from the game: Brent Celek and Zach Ertz had big days. Celek finished with 134 yards on four receptions while Ertz had 68 yards on seven catches. With the wide receivers mightily struggling to produce, at least the Eagles might able to count on their tight ends for some production. I guess.
8) Eagles fans can be happy the Cowboys lost
The Cowboys are 2-7 with Tony Romo likely returning next week. They're probably done.
UPDATE: The Pats beat the Giants in the final seconds of the game. The Eagles are still very much alive in the NFC East.
9) That crazy Jarvis Landry touchdown summed up the Eagles' season
A great deflection by Connor Barwin somehow turned into a gift touchdown for the Dolphins. For as bad as the Eagles have been, they've also had some real bad luck. It just hasn't been their year.
10) I don't think things are going to get better
I thought the Eagles might start to turn things around with a win today. They were going to win in a blowout and get to 5-4. But nope. It was just more of the same inconsistent 2015 Eagles. This team is going nowhere fast. They are who they are. They have a lot of problems and I don't think they can be easily fixed. I'm not going to say the Eagles' season is over because the NFC East is still weak and weird things can happen. But for the most part this just feels like a big wasted season, and we're barely past the halfway point. Seven more games to go.