The Eagles need to use humbling 49ers defeat as a wake-up call

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Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, center, talks with down judge Danny Short (113) during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia Eagles came away humbled from Sunday’s defeat to the San Francisco 49ers. After a season of close shaves and near misses, the team fell drastically short of the mark against a team who was out to prove a point against them. What matters now, however, is how they respond.

A humbling defeat

We all know that the Eagles talk themselves into responding when their backs are to the wall. It’s why Jalen Hurts broke an NFL record for consecutive wins in games his team was losing by 10+ points (now at 8). But there’s responding from adversity, and then there’s avoiding self-induced adversity. It’s the latter that has haunted this team all season and started to unravel against San Francisco.

In a game where Philadelphia needed to be solid in all 3 facets of the game, they crumbled. Every issue that fans had complained about offensively this season was visible, while the positions that have long been neglected by the front office were punished. The 42-19 blowout was a wake up call to Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni alike.

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni reacts to a play during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

No need for the Eagles to panic

There is no need for the Eagles to panic. They still maintain the NFL’s best record and the worst of their schedule is over. A pair of games against the New York Giants and a clash with the Cardinals are far more calming to prepare for than the very best the AFC has to offer in the space of a month. They should very safely be playoff bound and have ample opportunities to retain their NFC East Crown. This team is not in danger of spiralling into chaos, nor do they need to take ridiculous actions such as ‘Benching Jalen Hurts’. But what they do need is to recognize that this season hasn’t been perfect.

Brian Johnson’s play-calling has been criticized every single week this season. If the Eagles weren’t 10-2 and were maybe a 7-8 win team, more pressing questions would be asked. The front office has flat-out refused to invest in the linebacker and safety positions until it’s too late, and the defense has suffered as a result.

Sean Desai’s miraculous second-half adjustments can only take the team so far. The cornerback play is inconsistent, and the middle of the field is vulnerable, which gives teams way too many chances to negate an otherwise lethal pass-rush.

Philadelphia Eagles safety Sydney Brown (21) reacts after tackling San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Time to reset

The Eagles need to take this humbling defeat to the Niners as an opportunity to reset. To examine what went wrong and ask themselves what needs to be changed. Whether it’s revoking play-calling duties or simply trying to alter the gameplan to lend itself to the strengths of the team rather than what feels like a roulette spin, there has to be a level of self-awareness.

You don’t often get that sense of self-awareness when you’re unbeaten, let alone 10-1 and cruising to a playoff berth. It doesn’t matter how the games are won, but winning cures all. The only issue is that the Eagles haven’t been winning as much as other teams’ have been losing, and you could argue that complacency or a reluctance to make aggressive changes has set in. Then again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Eagles aren’t broken, but they’re a car that’s being started at 6AM on a December morning. The engine is juttery, the radio isn’t working, and the windows are all icy. You can’t get to work until you at least make some effort to rectify those issues, regardless of how nice the car, or the house it belongs to may be.

It’s time to get up 10 minutes early and de-ice the car before setting off to work. The Car is absolutely good enough to get you there on time, but even the shiniest wheels rust every now and again.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum