10 Things We Learned From the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6
The Philadelphia Eagles suffered their second consecutive loss on a walkoff field goal, blowing a 10-point lead in the final four minutes of regulation against the Detroit Lions. In overtime, the Eagles won the coin toss but the offense turned in the most embarrassing three-and-out I have ever seen in my entire life, finally punting on 4th and 31 from their own end zone. A fumble on the punt gave fans hope, for about three seconds, until it became clear that Detroit recovered the ball. The Lions drove down the field easily and won the game on a Jason Hanson field goal.
The game also marked the third straight week that the Eagles game came down to an opponents' field goal in the final seconds. The New York Giants missed their kick, but the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions made their kick.
Listen to the fan base, and you'd think that the Eagles were truly 0-6. There's panic like I've never before seen on a 3-3 team, despite the fact that the Eagles have reached the playoffs or won 10 games in each of the last eight seasons that they started 3-3, a pretty incredible stat in my opinion.
Following a much-needed bye week, the Eagles will take on the undefeated Atlanta Falcons, arguably the top team in the entire National Football League. If the Eagles win that game, they will mprove to 4-3, keep Reid's record at 14-0 following a bye week, and jump right back into the playoff race. But if they lost, there will unquestionably be a lot of panicking in the Philadelphia area, not that there isn't already. With that being said, here are ten things we learned from the Eagles game in week six.
1. Juan Castillo is not the answer at defensive coordinator.
That could not be more clear, as Reid even fired the longtime Eagles' coach on Tuesday morning after just 22 games as the team's defensive coordinator. Castillo's unit allowed an average of just 20 points per game, but it's not about the points scored. It's about the simple concept that Castillo was frequently overmatched by opposing offenses, and the seventh blown fourth quarter leads is the lasting legacy of his failed reign with the Eagles' defense. (Click here to read the 16 most memorable moments of Castillo's tenure as defensive coordinator.)
2. Dominant wide receivers will always dominate the Eagles.
Look at what Larry Fitzgerald, Victor Cruz, and Calvin Johnson have repeatedly done against the Eagles. It's simply embarrassing. Even when the Eagles shut down a great player for three quarters, he'll light it up in the fourth quarter and no one will remember the early game successes. Calvin Johnson finished with 135 yards receiving and played a major role in the Lions' comeback victory.
3. The Eagles will usually struggle before a bye week.
For whatever reason, the Eagles just can't get it done before the bye week. In 14 seasons under Andy Reid, they're 6-8. That's significantly below their average winning percentage. Luckily for the Eagles, they've made up for it after the bye week, winning all 13 games to date.
4. It's still not DeSean Jackson time at punt returner.
5. The defense will need to save this season, not the offense.
Even though the defense blew the game against the Lions and allowed a walkoff touchdown against the Steelers, it's going to be up to the defense to save the season for the Eagles. The offense is brutal, ranking 31st in the league in points scored per game and last in turnovers. They've stepped up their game in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, but the Eagles could be looking at a lot of 17-14 games this year.
6. Alex Henery is very quietly having a very solid season.
I bet you didn't know that Alex Henery is the most successful kicker (by percentage, minimum 30 attempts) in league history. He doesn't receive the credit he deserves because his leg isn't powerful enough to reach the end zone on a lot of kickoffs, plus he hasn't kicked a game-winning field goal yet. But he's consistent and arguably the only positive spot on the Eagles' special teams so far this season.
7. The Eagles are not the best team in the division.
The Eagles are 3-3 and trail the New York Giants by one game in the NFC East division. And it's pretty obvious that the Eagles are not the best team in the division. It'd actually be easier to argue that the Eagles are the worst team in the division than the best. The Giants are looking to be in late-season form already, making the Eagles' win over them huge.
8. Michael Vick is on track to getting cut after 2012.
I really can't see the Eagles keeping Vick following the end of the season unless he takes a majoy pay cut. He's a turnover machine and is closer to getting benched than any quarterback in the Andy Reid era. It won't happen, simply because he's still the best option for the Eagles, but it's looking more and more like the Nick Foles era will start in 2013.
9. Andy Reid is on track to getting fired.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie said that the Eagles will have a new head coach if Reid wins just eight games this year. He didn't give an exact number for Reid to save his job, but the Eagles will need to show significant improvement. 3-3 is not significant improvement. Even if this team did make the playoffs, they'd likely be a first round exit.
10. Or the Eagles could be right where they want to be.
The Eagles have reached the postseason or won 10 games in each of the last eight seasons that they've started 3-3. That would be seven trips to the postseason and one 10-6 berth. That's incredible. Remember, this isn't all Andy Reid we're talking about. You could have a random team that dinked their way to a 3-3 start, but instead, you've got a bunch of underachieving teams that caught fire late and reached the postseason. Four of those teams belong to Andy Reid (2000, 2001, 2003, 2008). I truly wonder if this could be the fifth time.