The Centurion

The Eagles Are Spiraling Downward

Gianfranco Illiano, Staff Writer

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The Philadelphia Eagles have continued their downward trend after losing 27-13 in week 12 to the Green Bay Packers and falling to the Cincinatti Bengals 32-14, in what can be argued as their worst stretch of the season.

The Eagles are now 5-7, and are a game and a half out of a wild card spot with several teams ahead of them.

It was the Eagles’ first home loss of the season, and their third straight loss within the last four games. Based on how they’ve played at home this season, this has led many fans to scratch their heads at the uncharacteristic display.

Expectations were through the roof after a perfect 3-0 start to the season in September. Perhaps fans shouldn’t have gotten too far ahead of themselves seeing as they beat the winless Browns and the Bears, two of the worst teams in the league.

The loss to the Packers was reminiscent of many games from last season. The defense could not get off the field, especially on third downs, and the offense lacked game changing play calling and execution. It was an all-around awful performance at home against a struggling team. The Eagles defense made Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers look like his old self. The loss put an end to a catastrophic month of November where the Eagles finished 1-3.

Unfortunately, the Eagles didn’t start December all that well either.

The Eagles went on the road to Cincinatti to visit the Bengals who have been struggling all season, especially without their superstar wide receiver, AJ Green.

However, the loss of AJ Green didn’t slow down the Bengals offense from torching the Eagles defense. Bengals quarterback, Andy Dalton, had his best game of the season against the Eagles, throwing for 332 yards and two touchdowns.

The only win of last month came in week 10 as the Eagles capped off the weekend with an impressive 24-15 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Going into the week after a God-awful performance against the New York Giants, everybody had little doubt that the Eagles would be able to keep up with the Falcons, who were flying high with the best offense in the NFL.

However, the Eagles defense shut down the No. 1 offense in the league, while only allowing 15 points and 11 first downs. Their impeccable form at Lincoln Financial Field had continued. Most importantly, Doug Pederson did a great job calling plays. This time around, the offense seemed balanced, which is always a recipe for success.

Doug Pederson finally seems to understand that he needs to call more run plays for his rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz. In week 10, Pederson called 36 pass plays and 38 run plays. What type of offense does that look like? Yeah, that’s right—a balanced offense!

Running a balanced scheme not only helps the offense, it helps the defense as well, which was evident on Sunday. By running the ball and continuously getting first downs, it keeps the clock running and the other team’s offense off the field, which is exactly how the Eagles executed the game plan.

The Eagles did a great job keeping Atlanta’s explosive offense off the field, as they possessed the ball for 38 minutes while allowing Atlanta to possess the ball for 22 minutes. (F.Y.I.: The last time Atlanta held onto the ball for 22 minutes was back in 2009).

Not only did the Eagles offense play well against the Falcons, the defense did a magnificent job tackling the ball carrier, especially Eagles’ safety, Malcolm Jenkins, who had three key tackles that prevented the Falcons from getting a first down.

It’s just mind boggling on what happened when the Eagles faced their next three opponents– the Eagles looked like a completely different team!

But what was most impressive about the Eagles defense against the Falcons was the amount of pressure they put on Falcons’ quarterback, Matt Ryan, especially on third downs.

The biggest problem the Eagles defense had last year, under Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis, was getting off the field on third down. The Eagles finished 26th in the league in third-down defense. This year, with Jim Schwartz, they’re fifth.

They only allowed the Falcons to convert two of 11 third-down opportunities, which is unheard of in today’s NFL, especially when it happens to the best offense in the league.

Lincoln Financial Field, or The Linc as most fans like to call it, has been extremely loud all season due to the passionate Eagles fans. After the Falcons game, some of the Eagles players and coaches claimed that they haven’t heard the Linc that loud in years. As ridiculous as it may sound, the crowd definitely had an effect on the Eagles win and the fans couldn’t be happier.

Although, the Eagles haven’t given Eagles fans anything to feel happy about recently, as their riding on a three game losing streak.

The Eagles were obviously unable to replicate their performance against the Falcons in the three games that followed against Seattle, Green Bay, and Cincinatti. This has been damaging to their season as they now sit 5-7, and would likely have to win all their final four games to just get a chance for a playoff spot.

Playoff chances are looking grim, but hopefully the Eagles can stay in contention for as long as possible and get some crucial wins against each of their divisional rivals in the upcoming month. They would do well to look at what went right in the win against Atlanta a few weeks back and use that as a blueprint to have success down the stretch.

 

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The Eagles Are Spiraling Downward