Mistakes Fuel Growing Frustration For Eagles
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles are dealing with a kind of adversity they never faced during their Super Bowl season a year ago. They have a losing record and lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2016.
Some call it a Super Bowl hangover. Others say they are snake-bit by their own mistakes. Either way, this is not a well-run machine on offense or defense. They have not played a solid four quarter game all season.
Sunday against the Vikings, the Eagles ran just 19 offensive plays in the first half for 91 total yards. Costly penalties stalled drives. Turnovers took points off the board for the Eagles and in the case of a fumble return for a touchdown, gave the Vikings points directly off a turnover. Defense once again gave up some big plays and chunk yardage allowing the Vikings to move the ball down the field.
To their credit, many of the players are owning their mistakes. Offensive Tackle Lane Johnson missed a block that resulted in the sack and fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
"I got to be a better tackle and do a better job," Johnson said. "We thought it was a blitz and I slid down for the blitzer who never came and let the end get inside of me and he sacked the quarterback. I will bite the bullet. There are no excuses and will put it all on me."
"It's not just one guys fault," Quarterback Carson Wentz said. "It's not just the o-line, it's not just me, it's not just the backs. But we have to clean it up."
That was the common theme in the locker room following the loss. Cleaning up self-inflicted mistakes resulting in what many called a lack of focus.
"I don't think the fight is the issue," Safety Malcolm Jenkins stated. "I think guys are playing hard every single game. I wouldn't say we are an undisciplined group. I think focus really is the word when you look at just doing your job snap in and snap out whether it is 70 plays or 50 plays."
"We have to take a real hard look in the mirror," Wentz explained. "Those little mistakes that sometimes can get overlooked are just killing us. We are playing like we are a young rookie team and we are not. We have to be hard on ourselves and learn from these mistakes and turn it around fast."
Pressure will continue to mount in this city that expected another strong season. Fans booed the team heading into the locker room trailing 17-3 at the half.
The Eagles benefitted from fast starts a year ago. Scoring early coupled with the ability to stop the run by the defense made opponents predictable and one-dimensional. Both sides of the ball need to play better early in the game and avoid requiring fourth quarter comebacks.
"We have been punched in the mouth and we are going to see how we respond in the next few weeks," Johnson said. "It is a big test for us. You can tell by the film that we are not going to lay down and die. We came back and tried to find a way to win this game and just came up short. We have to find a way to start off fast and keep going and eliminate the self-inflicted wounds."
"We don't need to keep fighting from behind, we need to start fast early," Defensive End Brandon Graham told the media. "In the second half everything kind of settled down and that's when we were fighting. We just need to have a complete game. We need to check ourselves, myself included, and figure out what I can do to help this team."
It seems like this is a critical moment for this team that needs to avoid falling to 2-4. The Eagles can start righting the ship when they meet their first divisional opponent of the season. They visit the New York Giants Thursday night.
"The beautiful thing for us is it is a fast turn-around," Wentz shrugged. "We can get the bad taste out of our mouth fast and go on the road to New York Thursday night. It will be here before we know it."
But until then, Defensive End Chris Long summed up the current state of affairs very well, "We are 2-3 because we are playing bad. Right now we are playing like we suck and that is the reality. We can say we are better than this all we want. But unless we play better than this, we are not."
Thursday's game will feature two teams in desperate need of a win. The 2-3 Eagles meet the 1-4 Giants who lost Sunday on a 63-yard Field Goal by the Graham Gano of the Carolina Panthers.