Nobody expected the Eagles to beat the Saints. Some hoped for an upset, but the expectation to win against an offense averaging over 400 yards per game fresh off of dropping 50 on the Bengals was never there. What was there however was an expectation to play like that was plausible. On any given Sunday, anyone can beat anybody. That was never the case in the Eagles absolutely embarrassing loss to New Orleans.
So much for a ‘fast start’, which had been a primary focus all week long. The signs of a total collapse were the from the very first kick of the game when the Birds were flagged. From there, the offense went three and out, Sidney Jones missed tackles and the Saints gained an early lead. One that would never be challenged, let alone relinquished.
The problem wasn’t the fact that the Saints were starting to run away, that’s what they do. The problem wasn’t even the fact that the Eagles couldn’t keep up. It was that their level of play was just absolutely not good enough to give them a chance to.
Of course, injuries played a factor. Losing Jason Kelce, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas all in the same game is a borderline ridiculous prospect. The Eagles secondary was comprised of players who had been on the team no longer than three weeks at one stage, highlighting just how little depth there was.
When you have a team already lacking in communication and production, inserting practice squad promotees, young players in unnatural positions and against some of the most dangerous opposition in the league is going to do anything but fix that problem…but the hand was forced and it was a dark vision that very rapidly turned into a reality.
You can look at the coaching staff who arguably left it too little, too late, to go for it on a 4th down. You can look at the franchise quarterback who had the worst game of his short career, showing visible signs of frustration and reverting to old habits that held down his play during his rookie year. You can look at the defense missing tackles or the fact that the pass-rush hit the league’s most accurate passer ONCE all game and didn’t bring him down at all. It all loops back to the same point; which is ultimately this team isn’t playing with the sting, heart, or aggression that it was even a few weeks ago.
No part of this team stood out. The only player who even showed any sense of heart was punter Cameron Johnston.
Doug Pederson has spent an entire year changing the narrative. One week the pressure is on, the next it’s off. One week the targets are on their back, the next they want to leave it all in the past. At this point, it feels like the team is lost in terms of direction and while that can certainly be attributed to injuries that ripped the core out of the team, it’s about accountability and a severe lack of it. Again, this was something Pederson preached.
So where do the Eagles go from here? It’s been a season of letdowns, disappointments and play that should not ever be associated with the term ‘champion’. If it’s accountability Pederson wants for his team, they will have to look in the mirror and look back at tonight’s loss and accept that it was simply not good enough for anyone’s standards. The loss could be tolerated by the Head Coach, but playing without any sense of direction cannot.
The locker room is going to be incredibly fragile this week. Players have already showed their frustration during the game on the sideline and eventually tensions are going to rise. This is Pederson’s toughest task but at this stage in the year with so many moving parts is there really anything he can do?
Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports