I had weird feelings after the Eagles 34-13 loss to the Bengals. I was very encouraged by what I saw in the 1st half. The Eagles dominated the Bengals, outside the first 5 minutes. The 2nd half was a huge slopfest. Normally you dismiss that many turnovers as “one of those nights” that just happens from time to time. Unfortunately, the 2012 season has been full of them.
There were some individual performances to be happy about. There was still plenty to be upset with, especially the fact that the Bengals were more physical and stronger. In a weird way, that can be encouraging. Why? The Eagles don’t lack talent. One thing (among a few) that they do lack is toughness…sheer physical toughness. That is something a new coach can correct.
In some ways, last night was pretty good:
* The Eagles showed how good they can be when they play well and cut out the mistakes (2nd Qtr). Then they turned the ball over and lost. That keeps the team in line for a Top 5 pick.
* Nick Foles didn’t have a good game, but he was pretty good in the 1st half, 12-24-145 with a TD and no INTs. He did struggle after that. If Nick played lights out it might have forced Lurie to think about bringing some member of the offensive coaching staff back to work with Nick. After last night’s uneven showing, I don’t think anything short of a phenomenal performance in the last 2 games will cause Lurie to feel that way. Andy and his staff have done a good job with Nick, but there isn’t some freaky connection between Foles and anyone that can’t be broken. Nothing special is going on.
* The DL woke up and played well. I wrote that Trent had a bad game last week. He responded by playing well. We need another one of those to feel completely comfortable with him being the RDE next year. Brandon Graham played well and offered hope for his future (more on that later). Fletcher Cox showed just how good he can be. We needed some answers from this group and got them.
* Bryce Brown can now see that last week wasn’t a fluke. He is incredibly talented, but this is the NFL. O-T-S-S. Only the strong survive. You must constantly work to improve your game and fix your weaknesses. All the Bo Jackson talk can go away and Bryce can focus on just getting better. Those 160-yard games seem like a decade ago. And hold onto the damn ball!!!
* Same principle somewhat applies to Foles. He lit up a crappy Bucs secondary last week. This time out he was up and down against a Bengals defense that has talent all over and can play. Nick showed he can play well against them (1st half), but also that he must get better. A lot better. Too much success too fast can make a player believe he’s ahead of where he truly is. Nick seems pretty humble and focused. The Bengals just made sure of it.
Had the Eagles gone out and played really well and/or won…this team would start to feel good about itself. We do not want that happening. This group still has way too many issues to be feeling good. I’m not saying I don’t want them to enjoy moments of success, but I don’t want them to lose sight of just how much of a failure the 2012 season has been. There will be no 4-game winning streak this year. I don’t know what will happen in the final 2 games, but the 21-point loss on Thursday night won’t be forgotten.
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I mentioned that I went out with some Eagles fans to watch the game. The feeling with several of them is that Reid will return. They were less confident by the end of the game, but a few still leaned in that direction. They don’t want him back, but felt the recent moves that were made would lead to his return.
I stringently argued that this would not happen.
I cannot see any realistic way that Jeff Lurie brings Reid back. I love Big Red. I’d love to shake his hand and thank him for the memories. I just can’t imagine his return.
One of the keys is that this team isn’t just having an off-year. This isn’t a dysfunctional bunch like the 2011 Eagles or the 2005 team. This team is doing some amazingly bad things.
* Eagles have only been outscored by more points in 2nd half at home 8 times in franchise history – twice in the 1940s, 4 times 1966-68, 1985, 1998.
* The Eagles’ 16 turnovers vs. AFC this year is most by a team vs. opposite conference since 1997 Saints committed 17 vs. AFC.
* Last time Eagles led at halftime and lost by 21 or more: Oct. 17, 1971 [led Raiders 10-0 in Oakland and lost to Daryle Lamonica 34-10]
* Last night was second home game in 44 years Eagles allowed 24+ points in the 2nd half and scored 0. Also happened in 1998 vs. Seattle [24-0 in 38-0 loss].
* Eagles have now lost 6 games by 13 or more points, matching the most since 1976, when they lost 8 games by 13+ points. Also lost 6 in 1998.
* Eagles are on pace for 38 giveaways & 13 takeaways. No NFL team has ever done that. Closest was the 2004 Rams [39 giveaways, 15 takeaways].
* This was the Bengals’ first prime-time road win since Oct. 22, 1995, when they beat the Steelers with future Eagle Jeff Blake at quarterback
* Longest rushing TD by a QB vs. the Eagles since Rick Mirer’s 12-yarder on Dec. 3, 1995.
And of course there are the other big “accomplishments”.
* 8-game losing streak.
* 4 wins only by 6 points.
* Opposing QBs having a rating of 120 or more in a record 5 straight games.
* Rookie RG3 going 14 of 15 with 4 TDs vs the Eagles.
* Eagles facing historically awful Saints defense and scoring just 13 points.
* Eagles leading the league in Red Zone turnovers (5).
* STs play has featured way too many mistakes. Once an Eagles strength, now a weakness.
I do not see how on Earth Lurie could reward Reid by bringing him back after a season when the team has done some amazingly awful things. There are some mitigating circumstances, but Reid burned through his goodwill last year. This season he needs to be judged on…this season.
Now if you want to get weird, you could argue that the way to punish Reid for 2012 is to keep him as coach. Unfortunately, that would be punishing all of Eagles Nation as well.
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DE #1 – 6.5 sacks, 35 solo tackles, 6 TFLs, 5 PDs, 1 FF
DE#2 – 5.5 sacks, 22 solo tackles, 3 TFLs, 0 PDs, 2 FF
The top guy is JPP. The bottom guy is Brandon Graham.
I am not saying Brandon is as good a player or anything insane like that. Clearly JPP is a much better player. JPP is a guy that teams have to gameplan for so his impact does go beyond the numbers. Brandon is a guy that doesn’t require any special attention and isn’t going to face multiple blockers.
I do find it encouraging that Brandon is getting better. He’s taking advantage of the increased playing time. I hope his confidence does build as he starts to make plays. Last year you could hear in his voice how much being a non-factor bothered him. He hated the fact he was hurt and irrelevant while JPP was posting 16.5 sacks and dominating the league.
Brandon will never be JPP, but if he can become a good starting LDE…that’s a pretty good consolation prize.
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