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Eagles sneak past Raiders: The Morning After

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Good morning campers, 

Steve O is sitting this one out, so I’m handling TMA for the week. First and foremost, I hope all of our loyal TMA readers enjoyed a merry Christmas with their families, friends and loved ones. For everybody who gets to spend time with any of the previously mentioned groups, there are many who don’t. If you know of any such people, please check in on them, or include them in your activities. Nobody should go through life lonely—especially during this time of year.

TMA

That being said, let’s get to getting….

This game….man….this game. Like you, I’m still trying to process what transpired last night. The Oakland Raiders flew across the country to play a meaningless game on Christmas, knowing they weren’t going to the playoffs this year.

Meanwhile, the Eagles needed to win this game to secure home field advantage throughout the NFL playoffs. So naturally, the Birds steamrolled over their opponents with determination and coasted to an easy victory. Right?

We wish.

Instead, the nation witnessed the ugliest game the team has played all year. Clearly, not the kind of performance you want from the Eagles as they head towards the playoffs.

I’m at a loss for words in regards to this game, which is fitting, because it honestly felt like a loss. They had no business winning this game. Clearly, that was the exact type of game you did NOT want to see from the Birds as the postseason beckons.  

I’m just going to throw some observations out there I saw last night:

-What has happened to this offense? Well, we know what happened: Carson Wentz went down with an injury, and our old friend Nick Foles is now our starting QB. While I’ve always respected Foles’ talent, he was remarkably ineffective, and the difference between the two QBs is night and day. It’s particularly noticeable when Foles attempts a scramble on 3rd downs. The Birds are the No. 2 ranked 3rd down offense, and you would have no idea that was true after watching this game. Foles also missed a wide open Corey Clement on 3rd-and-4 from the 15-yard line near the end of the first half. Jake Elliott then missed a 33-yard field goal. Playoff teams will make you eat those mistakes.

As a whole, the Eagles drastically outscored their opponents in the first three months of the season. That’s not happening anymore, either, and they must get back to doing that. You knew things were going to be different, but Wentz’s athleticism is missed more than we could have thought. It was even more painful to see him watching the game from the pressbox. Foles HAS to be better if the Eagles are seriously going to make a run at a Super Bowl.

-How does Alshon Jeffery, our “number one wide receiver,” have zero receptions and zero yards? This is definitely a problem. Our receivers as a whole, were non-existent.

-Zach Ertz has made some great strides during his five years in the NFL—but man, he STILL can’t break a tackle. Moreover, we know Foles was having accuracy issues, but Ertz HAS to find a way to grab at least some of those passes, as one of them resulted in an interception.

-Is it weird that I feel more confident with Jake Elliott kicking field goals from a distance of 46-yards or more?

-The Birds defense was a tale of two halves- The first half left a lot to be desired. If the defense didn’t have the five major takeaways they did in the second half to pick up the offense, we probably aren’t talking about a win right now. They clearly stepped up when they had to, but more consistency is needed, most noticeably the run defense. Marshawn Lynch is not the old Marshawn Lynch, but how do you explain 95 yards on 25 carries? I won’t even get started with the Birds’ secondary.

Final Thought: I’ve watched the Philadelphia Eagles for over 30 years. I’ve seen some fantastic teams, as well as some of the worst teams in franchise history. Hands down, this is the most lopsided, intriguing, exciting yet frustrating rollercoaster ride of a season I’ve ever watched. There truly has been nothing like it, and there probably never will be. Think about it: the majority of “experts” predicted the Eagles would maybe win 9 or 10 games. Instead, the team surprised everybody, and seemed well on their way to dominating the entire NFL. Then, their best player and possible league MVP (Carson Wentz) gets injured, their former starting QB (Foles) takes his place, and after a few weeks of lackluster play, the team somehow finds itself 13-2 with home field advantage throughout the NFL playoffs. Yeah, hard to fathom, right?

I’m not going to take anything away from what this Eagles team has accomplished up to this point. That being said, when you get to 13-2, expectations from a playoff perspective should rise. This team CANNOT play they way they are currently playing, and win in the NFL playoffs. Can they? Despite the team’s record (which obviously has a lot to do with the play of Wentz), let’s not kid ourselves: this does NOT currently look like a 13-2 team, and there’s LOTS of work to do. How this will end is anybody’s guess, but this Eagles team has defied the odds all year. Hopefully, they can do it a few more times.

Merry Christmas!

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

 

 

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