For Eagles fans, last night was a disturbing end to a football game Philadelphia needed to win. Instead of climbing up to .500 and moving a half game behind the sixth place, and the final Wild Card holding Seattle Seahawks, the Eagles displayed an exercise in sports forlorn hope.
The offense, led by tragic figure Michael Vick, patiently marched down the field to earn first and goal inside the 10 yard line four times, but were unable to reach the end zone in any of their attempts. Instead they came away with six points (two field goals), an interception and a lost fumble.
So went the demise of this Philadelphia Eagles season.
At the heart of it all, it would seem that the face of the franchise, the quarterback, would be the sole blame for the Eagles plateau being reached during the first two weeks of the season or on Andy Reid, the head coach who has seemingly been in the hot seat for years, only to find a way to win games at season’s end to save his job.
But no, the blame should be pointed at an offensive line that allowed a defense with only 13 sacks on the season to record more than half of that output in a single game. The Saints defensive line got to Vick before he threw the ball seven times, hand hit him repeatedly throughout the game. Vick was hit as he threw the ball or immediately after 12 times on national television, and still got his offense to out gain the New Orleans Saints by over 70 yards.
To be frank, the Eagles have the absolute worst offensive line in the league. CSNPhilly.com’s Reuben Frank asked Evan Mathis about the protection after the game.
“That’s our job,” Mathis said. “We have to protect him. We’ve got to get in the film room and see exactly what happened and correct our technique.
“It’s not a lack of effort. We have techniques we have to correct and make sure schematically we’re doing the right things.”
To be fair to the offensive line, Mathis is the only guy left on the line who was a projected starter during the offseason. Todd Herremans, who was the leader of the Eagles offensive line, went down early last night with a foot injury. Jason Kelce and Jason Peters are gone for the season and right guard Danny Watkins has been gone for two games.
Injuries aside, the offensive line just hasn’t done its job. Right now, they’ve allowed Vick to get sacked 27 times, which is four more through eight games than they allowed all of last season (23).
Because of the offensive line, the Eagles are now in a bad place but aren’t completely out of contention. Ideally, the Eagles would have liked to use last night as a stepping stone toward their ultimate goal, but instead took a step back and will have to reevaluate things with four very winnable games coming up.
They’ll have a divisional show down with the Dallas Cowboys next week, a team in a similar boat. The Cowboys are also loaded with talent but are sitting at 3-5 with some horrible turnovers and the inability to get stops when needed. The Eagles will follow that game with another struggling divisional opponent in the Washington Redskins. After that they’ll play the last place Carolina Panthers and the Cowboys again.
If the Eagles can find a way to sweep those games (all against teams under .500), they’ll set themselves up for another team that will be fighting for a wildcard spot in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who are currently at 4-4 and have found an electrifying running back in Doug Martin.
The jury is still out on this Eagles team, but things definitely aren’t looking good as they approach the second half of the season. Michael Vick continues to get drilled by opposing defenses game in and game out and the depth at offensive line is paper thin. The Eagles are pretty much in playoff mode from here on out, needing wins to stay alive. A loss to the Cowboys next week could easily mean no playoff berth for the Eagles, but a win followed by a few more could shed some light on what this team is really made of.