Four Downs: Eagles Season Sinks Even Further

Calvin Johnson and Eric Rowe. (USA Today Sports)

Calvin Johnson and Eric Rowe. (USA Today Sports)

DETROIT, MI — After being embarrassed in front of fans at The Linc last week, the Eagles played even worse in front of a national audience on Thanksgiving. They fell to Detroit, 45-14.

MOST TELLING STAT: 3

Calvin Johnson shredded the Eagles secondary, as did the rest of the Lions receiving corps, but he did the most damage in the red zone. Johnson caught eight passes for 93 yards and three touchdowns, and was consistently targeted after Nolan Carroll left the game with a broken right ankle.

Although Eric Rowe struggled against Johnson in the red zone, it’s unreasonable to expect a rookie to cover him one-on-one without any help. Rowe actually played well on several snaps against the All-Pro, but Billy Davis refused to give him much help.

Bracketing a receiver is something the Eagles have done in multiple games this season, so it’s baffling that they wouldn’t do so against one of the best receivers in the league. Davis will have a lot of explaining to do, but so will his players. Every linebacker and defensive back took their turn blowing their assignment in coverage, which makes their impressive start to the season feel like even more of a distant memory.

DID YOU NOTICE?

How bad was the Eagles offensive line? It feels almost meaningless to write about the quarterback, who is obviously the most important guy on the field. They rarely gave Mark Sanchez much time in the pocket, and they didn’t let him get into a rhythm.

Every single lineman had their struggles as the unit allowed six sacks and nine quarterback hits. It was reminiscent of the Dolphins game, when it felt almost inevitable that Sam Bradford would be injured because of the punishment he was taking.

The offensive line wasn’t any better in the ground game, and the Eagles averaged just 2.7 yards per carry. They totaled only 63 rushing yards, 19 of which came on one DeMarco Murray run. Regardless of what happens to the coaching staff, major changes need to be made on the offensive line in the offseason.

QB TRACKER

After an awful performance on Sunday, Sanchez played surprisingly well in Detroit. His second passing touchdown came in garbage time and his numbers are a bit inflated because the Lions let their foot off the pedal near the end of the game, but Sanchez was solid throughout the game.

Even on a short week, he seems to have benefited from more practice time with the receivers and running backs. His timing was much better, although there were still a few missteps and errant throws. When looking at this humiliating loss, Sanchez should be one of the last people blamed.

FINAL THOUGHT

The sentiment was shared and sincere throughout the locker room last week: players were “embarrassed” and “frustrated” by their abysmal performance against the Buccaneers. They said they’d turn things around. They said they simply wouldn’t allow the season to sink even further. But those words proved to be hollow today.

This team isn’t good; that much is clear. But they aren’t this bad. The talent disparity isn’t that wide between the Eagles and the Dolphins, Buccaneers and Lions. That’s where coaching comes in. Regardless of what the players say, it’s almost insulting that they want us believe this is a team playing for each other, and their coaches.

It’s unclear what Jeffrey Lurie will do, but it’s obvious he has to do something. As the Eagles’ season continues to fall apart, it’s becoming more and more likely a change is coming before the season is even over.