Shutdown Corner - NFL

Ronnie Brown’s epic fail fumble personifies Eagles’ lost season

It's not often a team can put its seasonal woes into one play, but the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles got just such an opportunity in their 24-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The Eagles had a 23-3 lead with more than five minutes elapsed into the third quarter, and then everything fell apart with that very expensively constructed team. Alex Smith (of all people!) threw two third-quarter touchdowns, and Frank Gore(notes) bashed in the fourth-quarter score that decided the game and put the Eagles to 1-3.

However, the worst play of that game came on a Philly offensive play — and it came from the hand of running back Ronnie Brown(notes). Of course, we remember Brown from his days with the Miami Dolphins, when he was the pointman for that team's Wildcat option attack. On this play, with 7:13 left in the second quarter, Brown is about to go down on a play that started at the San Francisco 1-yard line. Then, this happened:

Uh, oof. Ronnie, what on earth were you thinking? Brown said after the game that the play was supposed to be a run/pass option, but we're assuming the "options" didn't include throwing the ball to San Francisco's Navarro Bowman from the San Francisco 4-yard line.

"I just have to make a better decision with the ball," Brown said. "I think I tried to outthink myself a little bit. It was a pass play, and I was thinking once the guys slipped off, you know, just try to throw the ball away and give us another chance on fourth down."

On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Eagles' worst possible option would have been a chip-shot field goal, but that didn't happen. Certainly, you'd expect that a team with Michael Vick(notes), LeSean McCoy(notes), and Brown could punch it in from that distance. The 49ers went three-and-out and punted on the turnover, which gave the Eagles the ball at their own 30. They eventually drove down and got a field goal that put them up 13-3, though one has to wonder how nicely the extra four points would have looked in the final score. The Eagles had seven trips into the red zone, and just two touchdowns.

If you want to know how frustrated Vick was, watch him walking off the field before the play was even over.

In the end, the play summed up the Eagles' season — good intentions, bad results. With high-priced free agents underperforming all over the place, the "Dream Team" narrative once gifted to this franchise by backup quarterback Vince Young(notes) has everyone asking just what kind of dreams Vince Young has.

Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins(notes), one of those high-priced free agents, wondered if he and his well-moneyed brethren weren't the main problem.

"Maybe having this label, having so many good people, is hurting us," Jenkins said. "Maybe people are standing around, waiting for someone else to do it, kind of expecting that someone else is going to come in and make plays, instead of manning up and making it themselves. Myself included."

Whatever the issue, there's no question that the Eagles are a disaster right now. Nobody seems to know how to fix it, but here's a tip — dump those run-pass options until you get your offense together, guys.

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