Normally the day after a game, it's my pleasure to bring you the Winners and Losers column, where we look at who won the week, and whose play needs improvement. We laugh, we cry, we shake our fists at the jerk who missed a field goal or blew an assignment that cost the team points. This week is different.
There are no winners this week. The entire Philadelphia Eagles team loses. They lose because they weren't able to stop a middling Buccaneers team. They lose because the defense was routed by the 23rd ranked passing offense and the 10th ranked rushing offense. They lose because they didn't seem to care.
The offense once again missed blocks, missed assignments, miscommunicated and missed the chance to claw back into the race for the NFC East. It's impossible to watch this team and feel like the players have any confidence in their ability to dig themselves out of this mess. Until they do that, there's no reason for fans or observers to do it, either.
Much like last week's loss to the Dolphins, Sunday afternoon started promisingly. The Eagles used tempo and big plays to string together a 7 play, 86 drive that was capped off by a beautiful 39-yard catch and run by Josh Huff. But the Buccaneers scored 21 unanswered points before the Eagles were able to get another score of their own.
Then the second half started. The Eagles looked like they could still recover, but the Buccaneers started with the ball in the third quarter and put together a 15 play, 80-yard drive that ate 9:47 off the clock. By the time the Eagles offense was on the field, they were already down by 21.
Were there a few nice plays? Sure. Both Josh Huff and Darren Sproles had highlight touchdowns. But these types of plays were too few and far between to mean much. The offense finished with 383 total yards, which was actually one of their better outputs this season.
The defense is the biggest head scratcher here. We all knew the offense wasn't likely to come out and dominate. But the defense has proven this season that it's the best unit on the team. For most of the year the run defense was stout; the secondary opportunistic. But against the Bucs, the defense looked like a shadow of its former self. And as a result, Jameis Winston and Doug Martin had record-setting days.
Winston finished the day with five touchdowns and no picks, tying the NFL record for most passing touchdowns by a rookie. And Martin had 27 carries for 235 yards, which is the 19th-most yards gained in a single game in league history. And Martin's 235 yards are more rushing yards than the Eagles had allowed to any team all season.
But maybe more than anything, the Eagles lose as a team this week because they were unwatchable. The offense was stagnant, the up-tempo pace was MIA after the first quarter; the defense was lackadaisical. Once Tampa Bay took the lead, the Eagles looked like they were resigned to their fate. That's not good enough in the NFL, and that's certainly not good enough at home in a must-win game.
Could the Eagles still make the playoffs? Sure. Will they? Probably not. Do they deserve to? Not if they continue to play like this, they don't.