Nothing changed. And why should anybody have expected it to? This is who the Eagles are right now.
It wasn’t going to change overnight just because they were in the playoffs.
They’re not the team that opened up 10-1. They’re not the team that beat the Bucs, Chiefs, Dolphins, Bills and Cowboys. They’re not the team that had the No. 1 seed within reach just a few weeks ago. They haven’t been that team for a long time, and it didn’t really matter who they played in the postseason, they were going to lose.
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They can’t run. They can’t throw. They can’t block. They can’t pressure. They can’t tackle. They can’t cover. They can’t coach.
Everything else is just fine.
The Eagles finished their epic collapse with a 32-9 loss to the Buccaneers – the underdog Buccaneers – at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Monday night.
They finished the season with six losses in their last seven games, with those losses by an average of 15 points and the only win since Week 12 after they nearly blew a 17-point lead against the Giants.
The 23-point margin of defeat is 2nd-biggest in franchise history, largest since a 24-loss to the Cowboys in a conference semifinal at Texas Stadium in 1992.
This was a fitting end to a lost season.
Embarrassing. Pitiful. Inexcusable.
Here’s our Observations from the Eagles’ second wild-card loss in Tampa in the last three years:
1. I still think it’s likely Nick Sirianni is back, although after what we’ve seen the last two months? After what we saw Monday night? Anything Jeff Lurie does would be completely understandable. But there has to be major changes on this coaching staff, starting with the coordinators. The Eagles went from two of the best in Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon to two coordinators (three, really) who were horribly overmatched, and you can see how important it is to have the right people in those positions. And I don’t think the offense’s issues are all on Johnson, but enough are that the Eagles need to move on. Honestly, other than o-line coach Jeff Stoutland and special teams coordinator Michael Clay, I’d be fine getting rid of everybody. Nobody on this team got better. Everybody regressed. That’s on the coaches. This team was unprepared down the stretch. That’s on the coaches. This team lost its fundamentals. That’s on the coaches. This team kept falling behind early. That’s on the coaches. They kept blowing big leads. It’s all on the coaches. And most of them have to go.
2. The performance we’ve seen by this defense lately has been just horrifying. This is a Buccaneers team that struggled to score nine points last weekend in a must-win game against a 2-15 Panthers team. The Eagles held them to 174 yards and 11 points in September. They had surpassed those numbers by the middle of the second quarter Monday night. Obviously, the coordinator change has been a catastrophe. At least the Eagles had some impressive wins when Sean Desai was their defensive coordinator. And when they got embarrassed, it was the 49ers and Cowboys. Under Patricia, it’s everybody. Guys running around with no idea where they’re supposed to go, what their assignment is, what their teammates are about to do. The missed tackles became an epidemic late in the season. The coverage breakdowns. The blown assignments. And it wasn’t Mike Evans or Chris Godwin on Monday. It was Cade Otton. It was David Moore. It was Trey Palmer. The Eagl’s' couldn’t stop any of them. Howie Roseman has a heck of a lot of work to do this offseason because the Eagles need speed, physicality and playmaking at every level on defense. James Bradberry has to go. Nick Morrow has to go. Kevin Byard, Shaq Leonard, Bradley Roby, Zach Cunningham – they all have to go. This was just unconscionable stuff we saw Monday night from a bottom-10 offense and a journeyman quarterback. The Bucs finished with 426 yards, 23 first downs, 46 percent on third down, and Baker Mayfield threw for 337 yards and three TDs. Of course the Eagles didn’t force any turnovers. The worst defensive stretch in Eagles history? That’s saying a lot. There were stretches in 1967, 2012 and 2015 that were truly wretched. And that 1937 defense, yikes. But this was worse than all of them. There’s never been a defense in Eagles history that’s fallen to pieces week after week like this group has the last two months.
3. Before Hurts’ deep ball to DeVonta Smith with four minutes left in the second quarter, the Bucs had outgained the Eagles 174-38 on their way to a 16-3 lead and that was essentially ballgame. A Buccaneers team that was ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL this year in both offense and defense had taken command of the game by the middle of the second quarter. The Eagles cut it to a one-possession deficit at one point, but this football team was not prepared. They were not prepared. This coaching staff had eight days and did not get them ready to play. There’s no other way to look at it. When you come out flat on both sides of the ball – and 174-38 is about as flat as it gets – that’s a direct reflection of the coaching staff. Same thing happened last week against the Giants, when it was 24-0 at halftime.
4. This is almost unbelievable, but we just saw a 37-point and 449-yard reversal in the two Tampa games. In Week 3, the Eagles beat the Bucs 25-11 and outgained them by 298 yards (472-174). On Monday night, the Bucs won by 23 points and outgained the Eagles by 151 yards (426-275). That says it all. Preposterously awful.
5. If any one play symbolized the Eagles’ late-season collapse it was Baker Mayfield’s 44-yard touchdown pass to David Moore that gave the Bucs a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. First of all, no pressure on Mayfield. Then Eli Ricks ran into Avonte Maddox around the 40 and tumbled to the ground. There wasn’t an Eagles defender within 15 yards of Moore when he caught the ball at the 36. Darius Slay reached out his left arm in a sad attempt to tackle Moore at the 17. Maddox and Kevin Byard whiffed inside the 10. Bradley Roby had a shot at him at the 6, but Moore ran right through him. Moore, by the way, caught five passes all year. But the Eagles managed to put all their defensive weaknesses on display on one play – guys out of position, a lack of pressure, terrible coverage, awful tackling. The defense in a nutshell.
6. This game really magnified the Eagles’ need for more weapons on offense. Quez Watkins not good enough. Olamide Zaccheus a non-factor. Julio Jones, who left the game with a concussion, will be 35 next month. With A.J. Brown out, the Eagles’ only offensive playmaker was DeVonta Smith, who had 148 yards. Everybody else combined had 102, much of that in garbage time. Brown is a tremendous talent, but you can’t let yourself get in the position where you don’t have a viable No. 3 wideout who can move up to No. 2 if Brown or Smith are out. Maybe some of this is on the coaches, but it’s also on Howie Roseman because we’ve talked all year about how thin the Eagles are at WR, and nothing ever changed. The guys on the practice squad – Devon Allen, Greg Ward, Joseph Ngata, Griffin Hebert – aren’t the answer. You’re always going to miss an A.J. Brown. But you’ve got to have somebody other than Smith who can make a play.
7. I know most of the blame for this loss will go on the defense and they certainly deserve a chunk of it. But the offense was just as bad. Every bit as bad. How do you go 0-for-9 on third down? How do you average 2.8 yards per carry? How do you go scoreless in the second half? How do you have seven drives under 20 yards? How do you look this clueless against the blitz? How do you have one receiver with 25 yards? How do you go from 201 rushing yards in September to 42 Monday night? How do you have two plays of 20 yards and none in the second half? Even without Brown, this offense is too good to score nine points against anybody.
8. Jalen Hurts’ passing numbers were OK – 25-for-35 for 250 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Had a decent passer rating of 100.9. But his inability to deal with pressure – and it’s not just him, it’s the offensive coaches, the offensive line, even the receivers – has really been a glaring problem. The Eagles knew precisely what Todd Bowles was going to do and they still couldn’t handle it. Couldn’t make plays against it. Couldn’t deal with it at all. Nine points. They scored nine points. I don’t care what the numbers say or what his passer rating was, Hurts has to be better.
9. If only cleaning house was as easy as just getting rid of all the old guys. But Fletcher Cox was the Eagles’ best defensive lineman this year. Brandon Graham was effective as a situational edge rusher. Jason Kelce is the best center in the NFL. Imagine if the Eagles have to replace all three of them? Life without any of those guys is scary. Not because they’re legends around here. But because they’re still three of the Eagles’ better players. Who’s going to replace them?
10. Gotta give DeVonta Smith some props. When we say the Eagles have two No. 1 receivers, this is exactly why. With A.J. Brown out, the Eagles needed greatness from their third-year wideout, and Smith responded. He was no less than brilliant Monday night, even though the Bucs knew he was the only guy Hurts was throwing to. Smith finished with eight catches for a franchise-postseason-record 148 yards and became the first wide receiver in franchise history with two career 100-yard games. He also had 100 in the Super Bowl. Smith now has 405 career postseason receiving yards, only 60 off Harold Carmichael’s franchise record. On a night when nothing else was going right for the offense, Smith was one of the few guys on the team that did his job. Maybe the only one.