NFL Philadelphia Eagles

10 Things We Learned From the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9

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Introduction

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Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

For 13 and a half seasons, Andy Reid has been the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. As fans, we’ve seen the highs, which has included nine trips to the postseason, five conference championship game appearances, and a berth in Super Bowl XXXIX. But we’ve also seen the lows, notably the lack of a Super Bowl ring. The Terrell Owens saga makes the list, as does the dream team embarrassment from 2011. But I’m not sure it’s ever been as bad as the 2012 season, notably the past four games.

Four games into the season, the Eagles were flying high, with a mark of 3-1 and a reputation as the most clutch team in the National Football League. I had visions of a Lombardi trophy dancing in my head. And then everything went south in the worst way possible. The defense, which had dominated opponents in the fourth quarter during the first four games of the season, suddenly became weak and vulnerable, blowing consecutive fourth quarter leads. The Detroit game resulted in the firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, and it appeared that everything might be okay for the Eagles. But a loss to the still-undefeated Atlanta Falcons ruined Reid’s perfect record after the bye and sent the city of Philadelphia into an all-out panic regarding the state of the team.

And now? We’re past panic. We’ve given up. Following an embarrassing Monday Night performance against the 2-5 New Orleans Saints, the Eagles are reeling, at 3-5, and almost no chance at a postseason berth, let alone saving their head coach’s job.

There’s really not a lot I can say about the Eagles that hasn’t already been said but I’m going to try anyway. Here you go, with ten things we learned about the Eagles from week nine.

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1. Michael Vick won't be benched anytime soon.

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Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Andy Reid announced at this press conference on Monday that Vick will remain the starting quarterback for the Eagles, but really, who can blame him? How could you possibly move to a slow-footed Nick Foles with the current state of the offensive line? Vick is one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the history of the game, even as he’s started to lose his speed at age 32, and he took seven sacks on Monday night. Seven sacks, and that’s by a defense that had absolutely no success pressuring the quarterback this season.

Vick didn’t play particularly well but he really wasn’t that bad either. It’s hard to tell when your quarterback is hit 18 times, all of which, I might add, he got up from without fail. Regardless of the Eagles’ record, putting Foles into the game would be asking for an injury and that’s not how you want his NFL career to start. It killed Kevin Kolb’s confidence and his career in Philly (actually it almost literally killed him too).

Until the Eagles are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, Vick should and will remain the quarterback. By the way, give him some credit. Nobody thought he’d make it through a full season, especially without two (three, four) starters on the line, yet he’s halfway there. And livin on a prayer.

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2. It's only going to get worse for Vick with Todd Herremans on IR.

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Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Todd Herremans' foot injury will sideline him for the remainder of the season, meaning quarterback Michael Vick is in major trouble over the next eight games.

Vick will be playing behind a line that consists of (from left to right) King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Dallas Reynolds, Danny Watkins/Dennis Kelly (pick your poison), and Demetress Bell. Now, I predict that Watkins’ mysterious ankle injury (which he never actually had) heals this week, meaning the Eagles will play Watkins at right guard and Kelly at right tackle. But it really doesn’t matter. Again, pick your poison. Vick’s in for a pretty rough stretch. It’s going to be interesting to see if he makes it.

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3. Bryce Brown is finally showing some explosiveness.

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Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Hey, it’s about time. After backup running back Bryce Brown carries 20 times for just 56 yards, plus a fumble, in his first seven starts, he broke out for a 40-yard run in the second quarter. Brown almost scored, which would have been handy, as the Eagles subsequently turned the ball over on that drive. But regardless, the explosiveness that we’ve all heard about from Brown is finally starting to show. I have high expectations for this kid in the NFL.

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4. Demetress Bell is this year's Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, and Steve Smith rolled into one.

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Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE

There really aren’t words to describe how awful of a football player Demetress Bell is. I’m genuinely surprised he wasn’t cut today. His performance against the Saints was arguably the worst by a lineman in the Reid era, other than Winston Justice’s epic six-sack meltdown against Osi Umenyiora in 2007. In a span of four plays in the second half, with the Eagles in the red zone, Bell committed two false start penalties and allowed a sack. To call him a disappointment as Jason Peters’ replacement is a colossal understatement. Bell has a chance to go down as the biggest free agent bust of the Reid era. Had he been even adequate, as he was in previous seasons, the Eagles could be 4-4 with an offense scoring three or four more points per game. That’d keep them in the playoff discussion.

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5. Jason Peters should not return in 2012.

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Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE

With the Eagles all but eliminated in the playoff race this season, there’s absolutely no reason to rush star tackle Jason Peters back. What’s the point? So he can play in a pivotal week 16 game against the Washington Redskins that will determine third place in the division? Peters is currently in the three-week window where the Eagles have to decide if they want to activate him or place him on injures reserve.

To me, the risk heavily outweighs the reward. I have complete confidence that he’ll be back next year. He may not be quite as good, although you do have to remember that he’ll have 16 months from the time of his injury to the start of the 2013 season to fully recover. Regardless, he’ll be only 30 and I envision four or five more years as a starter in the NFL.

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6. David Sims could have a shot in the NFL.

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Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

I expected new safety David Sims to be completely overwhelmed in his first-ever NFL start against Drew Brees and the powerful Saints’ passing attack. He wasn’t. He didn’t play well but he didn’t play poorly. He collected seven tackles, although he did miss three. As a pass defender, he allowed three completions in four pass attempts for 27 yards. Again, not good, but not too bad. It’s a solid start. We may get to see more of him in the future if Nate Allen isn’t healthy soon.

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7. Todd Bowles appears completely overmatched at defensive coordinator.

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Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE

It’s been just two games since Bowles replaced Juan Castillo, and at this point, it’s looking like Reid made a colossal mistake. Castillo was really improving as a coordinator. Bowles appears to be completely overmatched and overwhelmed. He hasn’t had it easy, facing Matt Ryan and the Falcons, and Drew Brees in his Saints in his first two games. But his defense has allowed the sixth and eighth highest single-game passer ratings against the Eagles in history. They’ve also allowed 51 points, 38 of those in the first half (remember, the interception touchdown was not on Bowles).

It won’t get easier, as Bowles prepares to face Tony Romo and the Cowboys, and then RGIII and the Redskins. There really are no easy games as a coordinator with offense dominating these days, but Bowles’ unit just isn’t getting the job done.

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8. The Eagles have no solution for their red zone troubles.

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Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

There are no words to describe the red zone troubles for the Eagles. There really aren’t. Against the Saints, the Eagles entered into the opponents’ red zone five times and came away with -1 points. Yes, literally. They converted two field goals, turned the ball over on downs, lost a fumble, and threw an interception touchdown. That’s awful. In 20 red zone plays, the Eagles tallied -24 plays. Two of their plays gained positive yardage. And just three of the 20 plays were running plays. All lost yardage.

There are no words to describe the red zone troubles for the Eagles. There really aren’t. Against the Saints, the Eagles entered into the opponents’ red zone five times and came away with -1 points. Yes, literally. They converted two field goals, turned the ball over on downs, lost a fumble, and threw an interception touchdown. That’s awful. In 20 red zone plays, the Eagles tallied -24 plays. Two of their plays gained positive yardage. And just three of the 20 plays were running plays. All lost yardage.

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9. There is officially no hope for the Eagles' offense this season.

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Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE

I was one of many who said that if the Eagles’ offense can’t get the job done against the Saints, it’s never going to happen. After Monday night, it looks as if it’s never going to happen. The Eagles totaled 447 yards of offense, including 227 on the ground, and scored exactly 13 points. That’s staggering. They made five trips into the red zone and came away with fewer points than the Saints’ defense. And remember, this all happened against the 30thranked scoring defense.

How can anyone trust this team to score on a real defense, like Dallas (this week)? It’s really hard to deny that the Eagles’ season ended when the Jasons went down with injuries. They just don’t have the proper depth needed to overcome injuries.

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10. And there's no hope for the Eagles either.

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Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE

The Eagles won’t be going anywhere this season, not to the Super Bowl or even the playoffs. They’ll be lucky to finish with a winning record. I expect a 6-10 finish and the fifth pick in the 2013 draft. It’s going to ugly from here on out. Vick will struggle to survive in every game. The Eagles are at the point where they need to figure stuff out for 2013. Do they want veterans like Nnamdi Asomugha or Jason Babin on the team next season? Do Jeremy Maclin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie receive contract extensions? And most importantly, does Vick return or do the Eagles go with Foles (or someone else)?