Roob's observations after defensive disaster in Dallas eliminates Eagles originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
So much for the annual December playoff push. The Eagles are one of the worst teams in the NFL, they don't deserve to be in the playoffs and everybody who watched this game knows it.
Let's get right to our 10 Instant Observations off the Eagles' disastrous 37-17 loss to the Cowboys in a must-win game at AT&T Stadium.
1. Now we can all forget this whole playoff charade and focus on the fact that this is a 4-10-1 team. This is a last-place team in the worst division in football history. This is a deeply flawed team. This is a losing team since the Super Bowl and trending in the wrong direction. Now we can forget the fool's gold of another late-season run and face the reality that things need to change around here, and maybe it'll take a loss like this to the Eagles' biggest rival with so much at stake for Jeff Lurie to realize that the way the Eagles pick players and the way they coach players is not working. Big changes are needed, and if that wasn't clear before this game it sure is now.
2. What changes? I still think the front office should be restructured so Howie Roseman can focus on salary cap and contracts with a GM working alongside him who can get this roster restocked with elite young players. You can sure make a case that Doug Pederson should be fired, although I'm not sure Lurie is ready to do it. But at the very least, I do think the Eagles need to abandon this whole offensive coaching committee setup and bring in a strong offensive coordinator who can help restore some badly needed consistency to that unit. What about Jim Schwartz? I think it's likely he'll be back, but he needs players. And the Eagles just don't have enough good ones on his side of the ball. Honestly? There aren't many changes I'd be opposed to at this point.
3. This is the third straight year the Eagles have been so bad the first few months of the season that they left themselves no margin for error in December. Then they go on these furious runs to try and salvage the season and they talk about how they never give up and they always overcome adversity and they never quit on Pederson, but come on now. They were 4-6 after 10 games in 2018, 5-7 after 12 games in 2019, and 3-8-1 after 12 games this year. They've been a bad team for three years with a couple of strong finishes. You can't win like this.
4. Mixed bag this time for Jalen Hurts. Started out great but once the Cowboys built up their big lead he was forced to throw every snap and had a rough fourth quarter, with two late interceptions and a fumble (on what may have been the worst call I've ever seen). But there's going to be games like this for every young quarterback and people need to remember he's still a work in progress. This is tremendous experience for him. Nonetheless, his overall numbers for his first three starts are encouraging: 62-for-113, 847 yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs and a passer rating of 82.7. There's something there, but it's also too early to give up on Carson. It's going to be a very interesting offseason.
5. Once Fletcher Cox left the game late in the first quarter with a stinger, the Eagles were in deep trouble defensively. The pressure on Andy Dalton dried up, and Dalton was able to pick apart that under-manned secondary. The Eagles were out there playing with Genard Avery, Michael Jacquet, Rudy Ford, Marcus Epps, T.Y. McGill, Shaun Bradley, Joe Bachie, Grayland Arnold, K'von Wallace and Raequan Williams trying to stop an explosive passing game, and there was just no chance. All the blame will go to Jacquet because he got murdered by Michael Gallup and he deserves a big share of it, but really the entire defense was overmatched once Cox left the game. Take away Cox from a unit already missing Rodney McLeod, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, Avonte Maddox, Hassan Ridgeway, Cre'Von LeBlanc and Craig James, and you've got very little left.
6. The Eagles' two best starts this year were the opener against Washington and this game against Dallas, and they fell to pieces both times and those really turned into their costliest losses of the season. This team's inability to put together a complete 60-minute game and put teams away when they have them down is shocking, and that goes purely on the coach.
7. I hated Doug going for it on 4th-and-15 from the Cowboys' 33-yard-line down 30-17 with 14:09 left. Panic move. Especially after going for it on 4th-and-8 from midfield late in the third quarter. You're not going to convert a 4th-and-15. I know Jake Elliott has been struggling, but a 51-yard field goal makes it a manageable 10-point game and gets you off the field on a positive. Terrible decision.
8. It's impossible to see DeSean make a play like he did on the 81-yard TD and not think about his future. We've all been assuming he's gone, but it's not like any of the young WRs has been consistently productive. Flashes here and there, but DeSean had more yards on that catch than any Eagles WR has had in any entire game since Travis Fulgham's 152 yards against the 49ers in Week 5. Do you cut him and take on nearly $6 million in dead money or keep him and pray he can stay healthy with a $10.9 million cap? If he would agree to a pay cut it would solve a lot of problems. It's crazy to think about bringing him back for another year after all the injuries, but it's not like anybody else on this team is catching 81-yard touchdowns. (Also ... why wasn't he targeted again?)
9. Miles Sanders: 8 carries in the first quarter, 7 carries the rest of the game. Yeah, it was a two-possession game, but when there's plenty of time left you don't abandon the run. Especially with a weapon like Sanders and a 22-year-old QB making his third career start who's facing a defense with tremendous pass rushers. Doug will never learn. It's terrible the way he's consistently forgotten Sanders through the season.
10. Some things Lurie needs to keep in mind when he's deciding whether or not to fire Pederson: This is the first time since 1983 through 1985 under Marion Campbell the Eagles have failed to win 10 games in three straight years under the same coach. The Eagles are 14-21-1 the first 12 weeks of the last three seasons. The Eagles now have a losing record since the Super Bowl (22-23-1).
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