The Philadelphia Eagles are in total disarray following their third straight loss, an embarrassing 45-14 setback to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. With the loss, the Eagles dropped to 4-7 on the season.
ESPN reports that Eagles head coach Chip Kelly took the blame for the team’s swoon after the Detroit debacle.
“I’m a coach, not a player. It starts with me. I’m not pointing fingers at anybody, and I don’t think anybody points fingers at anybody [else]…. I think once you start pointing fingers and saying you blame it on somebody else, then you’ve lost what you have to do.”
Kelly is correct that as the head coach it all starts with him, but the question is, is he really to blame?
It is true that Kelly assembled this year’s roster as he traded quarterback Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy while adding Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Mark Sanchez, and Byron Maxwell among other players. He also released veterans Evan Mathis, Trent Cole, Cary Williams, and Todd Herremans.
Philadelphia won 10 games in each of the past two years, winning the NFC East in 2013, and the Eagles have already won two divisional games this year — defeating Dallas and New York. Three of the Eagles’ losses have been by three or less points. Kelly has a combined record of 24-19 (.558).
However, The Eagles have been dominated the past two weeks by lesser opponents, according to Phil Sheridan of ESPN. And to boot, they looked very lifeless against the Lions (4-7).
The Eagles have struggled mightily on defense the past two weeks. After not giving up more than 27 points in any game through the first nine weeks, Philadelphia has surrendered 90 combined points to Detroit and Tampa Bay as they have permitted 10 touchdown pass, which is the most in team history.
Against Detroit, Philadelphia allowed 430 total yards of offense and five touchdown passes as they constantly tried to cover Calvin Johnson man-to-man. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford picked the Eagles secondary apart as he completed 27-of-38 passes for 337 yards.
To make matters worse, the Eagles’ starting cornerback Nolan Carroll II broke his ankle during the Detroit game. Carroll, who was placed on injured reserve according to Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia, is second on the team with 57 tackles and leads team with 10 pass defensed. Carroll also intercepted two passes and returned a fumble for a touchdown.
The Eagles signed 23-year-old corner Jaylen Watkins off of Buffalo’s practice squad to replace Carroll. Watkins appeared in four games last year, recording three tackles and one pass defensed.
Offensively against the Lions, Philadelphia averaged just 2.7 yards per carry (25 rushes for 68 yards) and Mark Sanchez once again struggled. Sanchez completed 19-of-27 passes (70.4 percent) for 199 yards along with two touchdowns but was sacked six times.
Since taking over for Bradford during the Miami game, Sanchez has completed 59-of-91 passes (64.8 percent) for 616 yards along with four touchdowns and four interceptions. He also has lost a fumble.
Overall offensively, Philadelphia ranks No. 11 in total yards (361.5 yards per game) and No. 20 with 22.1 points a game. The Eagles have committed the second most turnovers at 21 — 14 interceptions and seven lost fumbles — and 75 penalties.
Defensively, Philadelphia gives up 379.5 yards (25th) a game and 24.9 points (22nd). The Eagles have recorded 27 sacks (11th) and have forced 21 turnovers (tied-2nd).
Despite their losing streak, the Eagles are far from being eliminated from playoffs. Philadelphia is currently only 1 1/5 games behind the Giants (5-5) and a half game behind Washington (4-6). Those teams play each other in Washington this Sunday.
The Eagles are off until Dec. 6 when they travel to New England to face the unbeaten Patriots (10-0). Philadelphia then has three straight home games — Buffalo, Arizona and Washington — before finishing the season at the Giants. While the schedule is not easy, the Eagles conceivably could win four of the their final contests but they must right the ship immediately.
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