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6 thoughts from the Eagles’ embarrassing loss to the Dolphins

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No happy thoughts here.

Philadelphia Eagles v Miami Dolphins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles are 5-7 after suffering an incredibly embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, 37 to 31. Let’s talk about that.

1 - This was the most pathetic loss of the Doug Pederson era

There was no good reason for the Eagles to lose this game.

Spare me the “Dolphins had won two out of their last four” nonsense. Those wins were a 4-point victory over Colts third string quarterback Brian Hoyer and an 8-point win over Adam Gase’s New York Jets, who just got blown out by the previously winless Cincinnati Bengals.

No, Doug Pederson, the Dolphins are not a good football team. They’re a team that ranked dead last in point differential and DVOA heading into Sunday. They’re a team that’s been trading away some of their best players as they try to tank and rebuild through the NFL Draft.

The Dolphins aren’t even trying to be as good as they possibly can this year. The Eagles, meanwhile, have put a big emphasis on winning in 2019. They’ve assembled the second oldest and most expensive roster in the league:

And what do the Eagles have to show for their spending? A 5-7 record after arguably losing to the worst team in the NFL.

Sunday was a such golden opportunity for the Birds. It was a classic “get right” game scenario. The Eagles were primed to pull even with the Dallas Cowboys at 6-6 after watching their NFC East rivals get blown out by the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving.

But they blew it. They had a 14-point lead and they lost.

It’s a total embarrassment.

2 - So much for the Eagles’ defensive improvement

It looked like Jim Schwartz’s defense had turned a corner after allowing 75 combined points in back-to-back losses to the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys. The Eagles had only allowed 61 combined points in their four games prior to Week 13. It seemed like the secondary stabilized with the return of Ronald Darby.

So much for that!

The Eagles’ defense allowed 37 points and 409 yards to a Dolphins offense that entered Sunday’s matchup only averaging 14.8 points per game (30th ranked) and 264.9 yards per game (30th ranked). I mean, how does that happen?

Schwartz had no answer for the 37-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is 52-81-1 as a starter and owns a career 80.9 passer rating. Darby and Mills allowed DeVante Parker — who was once considered a bust in Miami — to victimize them in what will be remembered as this era’s version of the Kenny Britt game.

One of the most frustrating things about Schwartz’s defense is how often it seems to be most vulnerable after the offense finally gets a much-needed scoring drive. Because God forbid the Eagles actually play complementary football. Case in point: the Eagles offense puts a nice touchdown drive together to go up 28 to 14 early in the third quarter. The defense then had an opportunity to make the game a blowout with a stop. Instead, Schwartz’s unit allows Fitzpatrick to easily march 75 yards down the field with six completions in six plays. Just no resistance whatsoever. Like, seriously? There was no excuse for fatigue considering the defense hadn’t even been on the field since 4:40 remaining in the second quarter.

I’ve never been a huge “Fire Schwartz!” guy but this kind of performance isn’t helping his case to stay.

On a side note, Fitzpatrick is simply an Eagles killer.

3 - The offense is still a concern

It might seem like a strange thing to read after a 31-point performance but the offense was absolutely culpable in this loss.

The Eagles had 11 offensive drives in this game. They scored a touchdown on just three of them against an awful Dolphins defense. And two of those three touchdowns came on short fields after a Dolphins interception (returned to Miami’s 18-yard line) and a failed Dolphins onside kick attempt (recovered at Miami’s 47-yard line). The Eagles’ first field goal also came after a bad 27-yard punt (downed at Miami’s 48-yard line). In other words, the Eagles only had 13 points on nine non-short field drives. That’s not good enough.

There’s been a lot of complaining about the Eagles not running the ball enough. I don’t really agree with that tired sentiment. BGN’s own Shamus Clancy said it well early in the game:

The Dolphins’ secondary is awful and the Eagles were having success through the air. The Eagles were in position to at least go up 31 to 20 and very possibly 35 to 20 had Zach Ertz not inexplicably dropped this pass:

Another killer play that was left on the field was when Carson Wentz simply overthrew a wide open Alshon Jeffery along the sideline on 3rd-and-14. The Eagles were up 28 to 26 at the time and never led again after the Dolphins scored their final touchdown of the game.

The Eagles didn’t lose to the Dolphins because they didn’t run the ball enough. Running isn’t this magical panacea that people make it out to be. The Eagles lost because they didn’t execute in the passing game like they reasonably should have. Ertz can’t have two drops that take at least seven points off the board. Wentz can’t kill drives by missing wide open targets.

A much bigger issue than the lack of running (the Eagles rank 13th in rushing percentage this year, by the way) is the lack of explosive pass plays. The Eagles’ longest completion through the air on Sunday was 27 yards. It’s no surprise at this point in the season but there’s just no explosive threat. Meanwhile, Parker had two receptions of 40-plus in this game alone while the Eagles only have five all season. Pitiful. The Eagles do not have a modern NFL offense.

4 - This kind of game raises questions about the big picture

Is Doug Pederson really the answer at head coach? Is Carson Wentz really the answer at quarterback? Is Howie Roseman really the answer at general manager?

It’s hard to believe we’ve reached this point less than two years after the Eagles’ SUPER BOWL WIN but here we are. Or, at least, here I am.

I’m hardly “out” on these guys and I’m not suggesting the Eagles should replace them immediately. I do think changes need to be made at a smaller level first.

For example, Pederson needs to seriously retool his coaching staff. Offensive coordiantor Mike Groh should’ve been fired last year and replaced with an experienced mind from outside the organization. Quarterbacks coach Press Taylor and wide receivers coach Carson Walch obviously need to be upgraded upon.

Wentz needs a better supporting cast of pass catchers. He also stands to benefit from better coaching, both from an offensive design and positional coach standpoint. It’s hard for me to believe Wentz should be coached to “take what the offense gives him” after watching him extend a play and throw that touchdown pass to JJ Arcega-Whiteside. He should be allowed to thrive more out of structure, like he did back in 2017. The Eagles also need to hire a quarterbacks coach who is less like a peer (keep in mind Taylor is only five years older than Wentz) and one that actually challenges Wentz.

As for Roseman, well, I’m not sure what the solution is there. Outside of 2017, the Eagles are 71-73 (including playoffs) since he first came to power back in 2010. Of course, you can’t just not count the Super Bowl year when evaluating him, that’s kind of a big deal. Roseman absolutely deserves credit for building that championship team. But was that season the outlier for Roseman? Did he just happen to push all the right buttons? Can he help the Eagles sustain success or are the Eagles doomed to be mediocre under his reign?

Lots of questions and not so many answers right now for a team that’s 15-15 since February 4, 2018.

5 - Would the Eagles making the playoffs be a good thing?

The Eagles can make the playoffs by winning out. There’s no reason to expect them to do such a thing after losing to the Dolphins. But, by law, we have to at least note that it’s possible.

My question for you: do you even want the Eagles to make the playoffs?

Poll

Do you want the Eagles to make the playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Yes
    (2144 votes)
  • 64%
    No
    (3857 votes)
6001 votes total Vote Now

The upside is that it would allow Wentz to get Playoff Experience™, for whatever that’s worth. Preventing the Dallas Cowboys from being the first team to repeat as NFC East champions since 2004 would be nice, too.

The downside is that it could be somewhat of a false positive for the Eagles. No matter what happens the rest of this season, it’s clear that some changes are needed. The Eagles can’t delude themselves into running it back for another year. They also shouldn’t want to ruin their positioning in the 2020 NFL Draft just to be one-and-done in the playoffs.

6 - This season has been so joyless

Football is supposed to be fun and the Eagles are so not enjoyable at all. When was the last time the Eagles really brought you joy? They haven’t won a game in nearly a month and that was an aesthetically unpleasing victory over the Chicago Bears. The Buffalo Bills game had some fun moments, I guess? Was it the Green Bay Packers matchup all the way back in Week 4?

Somehow there are still four more games to go in 2019. Nobody will miss this season once it’s over.