The Philadelphia Eagles spent a lot of this season trying like a powerhouse — the form of workforce that would beat any opponent any time, anyway they wished. They regarded for some time like they is perhaps unstoppable.
They do not look that method anymore.
Little by little, over the past month, their flaws have been exposed, and all of it got here crashing down on them on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. They have been embarrassed by the San Francisco 49ers 42-19 in yet one more recreation the place their once-proud protection was ripped to shreds. They could not sort out. They could not cowl. They could not run the ball on offense. They even misplaced a few of their standard cool.
Now, impulsively, the NFC race the Eagles have been as soon as dominating appears to be like vast open to a handful of groups. And if they do not beat the Cowboys (9-3) subsequent Sunday in Dallas, the Eagles (10-2) will even be trying up (at the least quickly) in the NFC East.
That has to be alarming, since only a few weeks in the past they regarded like they have been on the quick monitor to their second straight Super Bowl.
Now it appears to be like like perhaps all that hype was a bit untimely.
“We did not coach adequate. We did not play adequate. It’s so simple as that,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni mentioned. “You do not come out and play your finest recreation towards the blokes that they’ve, it is going to appear like that.”
That’s true. And to be honest, that is the primary time the Eagles have actually been blown out since Sirianni’s first season — two lengthy years in the past. Also, whereas they’ve regarded very beatable over the previous month, this was nonetheless solely their second loss of the season. They got here into this NFC Championship rematch having received 5 straight video games.
But this enormous loss to the 49ers (9-3) can also’t simply be dismissed as a one-off, as a result of Philly has been flirting with catastrophe for some time — weeks now. Back on Oct. 29 they got here actually shut to shedding to a Washington Commanders workforce that has misplaced 9 of its final 11 video games. They got here actually inside inches of shedding to the Cowboys the following weekend. Then once they got here out of the bye, that they had to climb out of 17-7 halftime holes to beat each the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.
And remember, they wanted the officers to miss a horse-collar sort out on Josh Allen to seal the Bills recreation, and for Marques Valdes Scantling to drop a landing move that was proper in his arms in order to beat the Chiefs.
Of course, video games between good groups are supposed to be shut, so a stretch like that towards some robust NFL competitors and division opponents is not what ought to fear them. What ought to actually terrify them is the play of their protection throughout that stretch. In the primary seven video games of the season, the Eagles protection was giving up simply 290.2 yards per recreation. After giving up 456 to the 49ers on Sunday, they’ve averaged 435 yards towards over the past 5 video games.
Against San Francisco, the protection imploded — at the least after they stopped the 49ers on three-and-outs on the primary two drives. The 49ers scored a landing on every of their subsequent drives, proper up till they took a knee to finish the sport. Quarterback Brock Purdy torched the Eagles secondary for 314 yards and 4 touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey tortured the Eagles defensive position, dashing 17 instances for 93 yards.
And Deebo Samuel simply ran by way of everybody, with 138 whole yards and three touchdowns. He scored fully untouched on a 12-yard reverse and once more on a display screen move he was a 46-yard landing. And he scored a 48-yard landing that ought to’ve been stopped for a brief acquire, if solely Eagles linebacker Nicholas Morrow had held on when he tried to wrap Samuel up.
“We did not make tackles after we wanted to,” mentioned Eagles cornerback James Bradberry. “We blew some coverages. And they obtained some room on a few of these runs after we did not sort out effectively.”
Sirianni added: “That’s a troublesome workforce to sort out. A bit of bit uncharacteristic day on our half so far as the tackling.”
If solely that have been true, no person can be anxious. But these Eagles had all types of troubles tackling in current weeks towards gamers like Buffalo’s Allen (9 carries, 81 yards, 1 landing), Chiefs operating again Isaiah Pacheco (19 carries, 89 yards), and Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb (11 catches, 191 yards). This protection has now given up almost 1,000 yards (961) in the final two video games. They’ve given up greater than 400 yards in 4 of their final 5 video games.
That’s not uncharacteristic. That’s a pattern.
They have clear issues at security and linebacker — one purpose why they have been pursuing free agent linebacker Shaq Leonard. The tackling in their again seven has been typically poor, particularly in open house. And their protection is not almost pretty much as good because it was a yr in the past. Their move rush has been inconsistent, too.
What was actually uncharacteristic in this recreation was that the Eagles offense struggled. They did not appear to need to commit to a dashing assault even when the sport was shut, and so they ended up dashing for simply 46 yards. They obtained caught in the purple zone on their first two drives, settling for 2 discipline objectives once they had an opportunity to construct a extremely huge early lead.
In different phrases, this recreation was a large number on each side of the soccer.
“We did not play to the usual,” Jalen Hurts mentioned. “And we misplaced.”
They did. They misplaced a recreation. They misplaced a part of their lead in the convention and division. And they misplaced a little bit of their cloak of invincibility. They are nonetheless main the NFC. They’re nonetheless a Super Bowl contender at 10-2. And there’s nonetheless, as Sirianni identified, quite a lot of soccer left to be performed. But the door is now open for the 49ers, the Cowboys, and perhaps even the Detroit Lions (9-3).
Surely all of them sense that the street to the Super Bowl is a bit wider than everybody thought it was. The door is now vast open with 5 video games left in the season on a day when Philadelphia might have all however slammed it shut.
They nonetheless may. The Eagles are nonetheless excellent. They may nonetheless find yourself profitable the NFC. And in the tip, they may nonetheless be one of the best workforce in soccer. Maybe once they look again on the finish of the season, this recreation will appear like the anomaly they have been attempting arduous on Sunday to consider that it was.
But the reality is, that is removed from sure, and the remainder of the convention is aware of it. They not appear like the kings of the NFC, which they have been for many of the final two seasons.
If they need their crown again, they are going to have to earn it once more.
Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, masking the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the earlier six years masking the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and earlier than that, 16 years masking the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.
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