December 11, 2023
There is a lot of blame to go around. There are a lot of reasons why the Eagles faltered when it mattered the most these last two weeks.
After starting the season 10-1, and boasting award favorites while showing success in clutch moments that made many believe they could win any football game, the defending NFC champions fell back to earth at terminal velocity.
They lost to the two best teams in the conference by a combined score of 75-32. The offense hasn't been reliable. Penalties have been killers. The stars have flickered out. It's not difficult to see why Philly has looked awful against the Niners and Cowboys. But the defense has been the worst violator — and it's been hidden in plain view all season long.
“Usually the Eagles are known for defense,” cornerback Darius Slay said (via The Athletic). “So, we’ve got to be known for it. We’ve got to get back out there and really impose our will.”
Over the last two games, the Eagles have surrendered the following:
• 75 points allowed
• -2 turnover margin
• 850 yards allowed
• 32:29 opponent time of possession
• 17 accepted penalties for 142 yards
You get the idea. We could go on and on. Things have been bad. Very bad.
If the Eagles hope to win this season, they'll need to get the offense in gear — because it doesn't look like the defense, even when you look at its full body of work, is going to be able to stop the top teams in the NFL.
|Points allowed per gm
|Yards per play
|First downs allowed
|Passing TD allowed
|Third down defense
|Red zone defense
Are they good at anything? Well, they have a decent run defense — but that's only because teams don't really bother trying. No team has faced more pass attempts and just one has faced fewer running plays than the Eagles. Also, interestingly, the pass rush has 91 QB hits, which is the 5th most in the NFL, but has resulted in just 37 sacks, just the 21st most.
The good news is the gauntlet is over. A stretch that saw the Eagles play the Dolphins (9-3), the Cowboys twice (10-3), the Bills (7-6), the Chiefs (9-4) and the 49ers (10-3) is behind them. Games against four losing teams are ahead.
Will they get their act together and get some stops on defense?
"I think the biggest thing for this team now is really find out who the dudes are," Fletcher Cox told media members (via ESPN). "I've been a part of teams where the dudes in the locker room do something about it, and I've been part of teams where it kind of crumbles. And now it's time to see the real leadership, the real players, the guys that's elite on this team, myself included, step up and do something about it."
There is no team in the NFL with an easier remaining slate than Philly — their opponents have a .340 winning percentage. If they win out, they will finish 14-3 and have at least the No. 2 seed in the postseason. No more excuses.
"It's still great," Slay said. "We've got great leaders in here that's going to lead the guys in the right direction. It's only the third loss. We've got four left. We've got to go out and capitalize on these four and get a push going, because everybody always says we've got time; but four games left, that time's shrinking."
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