Accountability is a word that often gets thrown around after a loss or even a string of losses. It’s used loosely and it’s also hard to quantify. On the surface, wanting a player to own up to a mistake and say ‘my bad’, defines the term, but it’s likely that the Eagles are suffering from a total lack of the word in every sense.
The loss to Miami is one that will sting for a while. Giving up over 400 yards to one of the worst offenses in football and collapsing offensively in the second half against one of the worst-ranked defenses leaves little room for excuses. After losses against the Pats and Seahawks that saw an injury-riddled offense hang around in games they really should’ve been expelled from much earlier thanks to their defensive resurgence, this was seen as a golden opportunity to kickstart a playoff push.
Dallas dropped a vital game to the Bills on thanksgiving which gave the Eagles a lifeline. All we’ve heard from Doug Pederson this year is that they ‘control their own destiny’. In fact, he even said the same today. But if that really is the case, it’s a terrifying prospect given how many opportunities are continuously squandered. Even if the Eagles do make the playoffs, they’d arguably be the least-deserving of such an achievement in recent memory.
From top to bottom, the Eagles have underwhelmed. They’ve left meat on the bone and dug themselves so deep that they can’t even see sunlight. Penalties, drops, miscommunications, poor tackling, bad throws, poor blocking, can all be fixed. They’re coachable errors…if players are accountable. If coaches are accountable. But here we are, with the Eagles riding the easiest run-in schedule in the NFL, and yet they continue to deteriorate.
“Where this team is, this will be great for our leadership right now where we are.” Pederson said on Monday. “From my standpoint leading the football team and then challenging the leaders of the team to really embrace this time and to really challenge the guys and say, “Hey, we have four games left, a month of this season.”
By no means are we — we’re not throwing in the towel. We have a lot of football left. We have a great opportunity. There is still a chance for us. We control our own destiny. So that’s going to be the message moving forward to this football team, and the leaders have to embrace that and they have to also take it to the team as well.
So I feel really good about that, and those will be the conversations that I have with those guys this week.”
But if the Eagles aren’t throwing in the towel, I dread to think what this team would look like if they were. Abandoning the run despite holding a sizable lead against the 31st ranked run defense for instance, doesn’t exactly reek of accountability considering the same pattern happened in each of the last two weeks against much better opponents. The argument for getting away from the run when Miles Sanders averaged 4.7 yards per carry, makes little sense. This is just one of the criticisms from a game where there was very little to compliment.
The leaders on the team refused to talk to the media after the game and with easier sledding ahead, the Eagles are in a rut. The good news is, Pederson believes he has a way to get them out of it.
“This team needs to continue to work every single day and come to work with the right frame of mind, check egos at the door.” He said. “Let’s come to work, get ready for the New York Giants. We have another great opportunity this week.
That’s the only thing I know to do, is to continue to push; put one foot in front of the other; be hard on our players; demand more of our players; things of that nature, things that we’ve done all season long; players have to hold players accountable; all of stuff we talk about, and get ready for this game.”
Pederson also stated that the Dolphins ‘wanted it more’ in an interview with WIP.
But this comes after weeks of numerous players having concerns over ‘effort’ raised. After anonymous sources, after undisputed appearances, after guaranteed wins that turn into sweet nothings.
If checking egos at the door is the solution, it has to go for coaches as well. For an offensive coordinator who has given no visible value to this group, for a defensive coordinator who let a team averaging 14 points per game put up 37 on him, for a Head Coach who has preached ‘trending in the right direction’ and ‘controlling their own destiny’, something has to change.
It won’t be staff, it won’t be personnel. But this Eagles team has to find some reason to fight. Some reason to believe. Some reasons to care. Because if they don’t, it’s goodbye playoff hopes, and hello one very turbulent offseason of transition.
Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports