The Philadelphia Eagles season is only five games old, but their performance thus far has been wildly inconsistent. The Eagles were the talk of the NFL following their week three beat down of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. The team was 3-0 heading into their bye week and all three wins came in convincing fashion. Granted the first two were against two of the worst teams in the National Football League in the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears, but their dominant performance against Pittsburgh seemingly silenced any doubters.
| Associated Press|
Wentz was under duress all afternoon last week at FedEx Field.
However, then the Eagles entered their bye week and the momentum they had built up in the season’s first three weeks disappeared. It was a potential concern of having the bye so early, but not an excuse nonetheless. In Detroit, against a subpar Lions team, their defense looked like it was still on a bye week in the first half allowing chunks of yardage which resulted in a 21-10 halftime deficit. The Eagles rallied, only to blow the game in the waning minutes as Ryan Mathews fumbled on a play that didn’t have much of a chance to go for a first down to begin with. The fumble resulted in Detroit taking a 24-23 lead on its ensuing possession that would hold up. Last week against Washington, the defense again looked lifeless. Washington dominated the line of scrimmage and ran the ball at will to the tune of 230 rushing yards and seven yards per carry. Cornerback Jalen Mills who was a bright spot in the first three games, could not keep up with former Eagle DeSean Jackson on the outside. Washington did this on offense without one of its best players on its entire roster as tight end Jordan Reed was sidelined with a concussion. On offense, things weren’t any better for the Eagles who lost the battle in the trenches against Washington’s defense as well. Rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s first start in place of Lane Johnson, who began serving his 10-game suspension, was a disaster and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz had next to no time to operate in the pocket all day. The score was 27-20 but felt much worse since the Eagles two touchdowns came on an interception returned for six by Malcolm Jenkins and a kickoff return for a touchdown by Wendell Smallwood. Additionally, in both the Detroit and Washington games, the Eagles had over 100 yards of penalties.
So now what? Who are they? Are they the team that looked flawless before the bye or are they the team that’s continuously shot themselves in the foot coming out of the bye? It’s probably something in between, but will that be good enough to remain competitive in the NFC East? For as critical as many have been about the mediocrity of the division in the last couple of seasons, right now it’s not shaping up like a mediocre division. Dallas is 5-1 heading into a bye week and certainly looks to be for real. Washington has righted the ship after an 0-2 start and won four straight games, two of which have been against NFC East opponents. The Eagles are still over .500. The Giants halted their three-game losing skid last week with a win against Baltimore and now have a very winnable game on Sunday in London against the Rams as they look to get back over .500.
Beginning with Sunday’s date with the only remaining unbeaten team in the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings, the Eagles schedule is about to get much more difficult. To remain competitive and have a shot at making the playoffs heading into December, they’ll likely have to take care of business against the inferior opponents, which they didn’t do the last two weeks, and sneak up on a few teams the way they did against Pittsburgh. It’s a tall task, that likely won’t result in the Eagles playing into January.
But remember this, the preseason expectations were for this team to win between five and eight games. Almost no one had the Eagles in the postseason. Granted, expectations changed after the Pittsburgh blowout. But these last two weeks should reset expectations close to or almost right where they were before the season started. It’s okay if the Eagles don’t make the playoffs this year. What’s most important is that Wentz continues to show he’s the franchise quarterback they thought they were getting when they made the move up in the draft last spring. Then, the Eagles can move forward and address some of the roster concerns that they have, namely offensive line. As for this year, it looks like this is going to be a team that teases its fans one week and lets them down the following week. In other words, an average team headed for an average season.