Most of them had looks of stunned dismay. The silence was deafening, and the reality hit home: The 37-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night was a low-point moment, an embarrassment from start to finish and it begged the answer to this question as the Philadelphia Eagles loaded up their equipment and returned home, if only for a few days before playing at Buffalo on Sunday: Can the Eagles rebound from this?
“We were embarrassed out there,” defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. “That’s the truth. Embarrassed on national TV.”
The Eagles are a mess of a team right now and, as they showed in Dallas, they are far more than “one player away” from turning around a two-game losing streak and becoming what everybody thought they would be at the start of the season: A Super Bowl-contending football team with outstanding depth on both sides of the ball. The Eagles now look tired, weary from the injuries that have riddled the roster, lacking the young energy and speed to compete with some of the higher-echelon teams in the NFL.
“We really don’t have a choice,” wide receiver Nelson Agholor said. “We have to step up and work harder and play better football.”
What the Eagles are is a 3-4 team that has little quick-strike punch on offense and a defense that is having all kinds of problems getting off the field. Dallas ran roughshod over the Eagles defense, literally, averaging 5.3 yards per rushing attempt while racking up 189 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. When Dallas wasn’t controlling the game on the ground, quarterback Dak Prescott picked apart a pass defense that has been among the league’s worst all season. Prescott completed 21-of-27 passes for 239 yards and generally had all kinds of time working against a defense that has demonstrated little threat of a pass rush this season and that has every kind of problem covering receivers in the secondary.
On offense, the Eagles have had no punch since wide receiver DeSean Jackson suffered an abdominal injury in Week 2 in Atlanta. There is no telling when Jackson will return, or how long he will play when/if he comes back, but the Eagles need him in the worst way. On Sunday night, quarterback Carson Wentz completed all of four passes for 62 yards to Agholor and Alshon Jeffery. There is no third wide receiver threat. The Eagles have to work so hard to score points, and they just aren’t scoring enough of them.
There is still a lot of season to be played and, of course, we’ve seen the Eagles turn things around. But this time, the crisis is coming earlier in the season. The Eagles play at 5-1 Buffalo on Sunday and the Bills have a young, fast and aggressive defense. They’re going to make life very difficult for Wentz and the offense, and the Bills run the ball and beat teams with a short passing game on offense. A win gets the Eagles to 4-4. That would be a great step forward at the halfway point of a struggling season that nobody saw coming.
That easy dance to the postseason? Well, nothing is going to be easy for a team that hit rock bottom in Dallas in front of the world.
“We have to pick ourselves up and play better football,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “Nobody feels sorry for us.” ••