What They’re Saying About the Eagles
Here’s a roundup of what the media are saying about the Eagles following their 38-27 loss to the Cowboys.
For the first time in weeks, the Eagles are on the outside of the current playoff picture.
Connor Orr of NFL.com gives five takeaways from the Birds’ loss to the Cowboys:
2. Could this have been Mark Sanchez’s chance to fend off Nick Foles? At times, Sanchez looked to have more velocity and certainty behind his passes than ever. At others, he was again frantic and unable to digest certain coverages. His pick was ill advised, but a pair of overthrows were just as costly. At this point, turning back to Foles seems obvious.
3. There doesn’t seem to be any excuse for leaving Bradley Fletcher on Dez Bryant. We understand that options are limited, but the second touchdown should have been the indicator. That being said, Bryant’s price tag continues to balloon. Jerry Jones said he did not want to spend emotionally, but what if Dallas makes the playoffs? Could Bryant set the record for guaranteed money given to a wideout?
4. If there’s an advantage to all the brutality Tony Romo has endured over the years, it’s that he seemed to have finally figured out a way to minimize the damage on certain sacks. But then, he does a complete 180 at the six-minute mark in the third quarter and holds the ball for more than seven seconds, never anticipating a rush from his blind side. The Eagles took over at Dallas’ 14-yard line and took the lead momentarily. It seems Romo is still learning to operate with certain limitations.
Judy Battista of NFL.com writes that the Tony Romo and the Cowboys proved their toughness and resiliency on Sunday night:
Romo’s physical toughness has never been in question. Much of the blame for the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving meltdown at home to these same Eagles went to the fact that Romo had just three days to recover from the previous game played with two fractures in his back. But the frantic and fumbling finishes of the past — and the absence of that fate Sunday night — suggest that the Cowboys are now as tough mentally as Romo is physically. As the Eagles took the lead, Romo was sitting on his bench, looking at photos on his tablet, barely noticing the stadium-rattling din around him. Romo might continue to be tagged as a choker because of his earlier foibles in big moments, but on Sunday, with the season collapsing around him again, the quarterback calmly stood up and delivered a message to the offensive huddle.
Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com writes that the Eagles’ familiar issues cost them a shot at sealing up the NFC East:
The Eagles were in first place in the NFC East despite leading the NFL in turnovers. On Sunday, four turnovers contributed heavily to their 38-27 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles were 9-4 despite a secondary that looked positively flammable at times. Against the Cowboys, Dez Bryant set fire to the Eagles’ defense. Bryant caught three touchdown passes from Tony Romo, all against cornerback Bradley Fletcher.
The Eagles controlled their playoff destiny despite losing starting quarterback Nick Foles to a broken collarbone in Week 9. Mark Sanchez stepped in and won a couple of important games, including a 33-10 decision in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. But Sanchez’s habit of throwing interceptions finally caught up to the Eagles. He threw two picks to help the Cowboys protect their lead.
With losses to Seattle and now Dallas, Chip Kelly’s Eagles surrendered their lead in the NFC East and found themselves in need of help to have a chance at the playoffs.
Peter King of The MMQB breaks down Week 15 around the NFL:
Mark Sanchez. Before Sunday night’s game against Dallas, Nick Foles was on the Lincoln Financial Field turf, throwing crisp passes and reporting no pain in his broken left collarbone, which was injured against Houston Nov. 2. If he returns this week, it would be right on schedule—seven weeks after the injury. It doesn’t help that the Eagles play Saturday against Washington, which compresses the week, but it shouldn’t factor into whether Foles can play or not.
Chip Kelly has seen Sanchez pilot the Eagles to 33-, 10- and 11-point losses to Green Bay, Seattle and Dallas, respectively, in the last five weeks, and it’s likely he’ll go to Foles when he thinks he’s healthy enough to play. Sanchez could have grabbed the job for good with an impressive five or six weeks, and though he has shown flashes, there haven’t been enough of them. Bad news for the Eagles, who, to win the NFC East, now have to sweep their last two while hoping Dallas stumbles once. Not impossible, but also not likely.
The Rest of Chapter 15
The Seattle Effect. “It’ll be interesting to see how Philadelphia comes out of the Seattle game physically,’’ said one Dallas Cowboy last week, before his team’s trip to Philadelphia for the Sunday night game. This player remembered how physically spent the Cowboys were after playing Settle earlier in the year, and said it could be a big factor in how the team recovered to play the next week. Well, maybe he is on to something. The Eagles are the eighth team in a row to lose the week after playing Seattle; Philadelphia, San Francisco, Arizona, Kansas City, the New York Giants, Oakland, Carolina and St. Louis all lost the week after playing the Seahawks. The Seattle Effect bodes well for San Diego’s playoff chances. Not only do the Chargers play Week 16 against San Francisco, which lost to Seattle on Sunday, but also the game is on Saturday, so the Niners have one fewer day to recover from playing the Seahawks.
The Fine Fifteen
9. Philadelphia (9-5). Bradley Cooper sure looked sad sitting in Jeffrey Lurie’s box, his beloved Philadelphia Silverlining playbooks down 21-7 to the Cowboys in the second quarter. Cooper was dancing in the second half, but Mark Sanchez just couldn’t make enough plays to win this one.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk warns that Chip Kelly could find himself in some hot water if he continues to talk about Marcus Mariota before he declares for the NFL draft:
“I think Marcus will be successful whether he’s an NFL player, a banker, a teacher, a fireman, a policeman,” Kelly said Monday on 94WIP in Philly. “I’ve said it before about some other players, but if you can buy stock in a human being, you buy stock in that kid because he’ll always be successful in anything he does. . . . I felt lucky that I had an opportunity to coach a young man like that. When you listen to his [Heisman Trophy] acceptance speech, I think it’s maybe a sliver of what we got the chance to experience every day to be around him. He’s a special young man. I know I’m better person for being associated with him.”
Kelly’s comments follow last week’s glowing remarks about Mariota, whom Kelly pegged to win a Heisman Trophy as a freshman and whom Kelly said has a “gift for playing football,” that he’s “everything you want,” that he “can throw the ball, he can run,” and that he’s “the most talented kid that I coached in college.”
Here’s what the league’s anti-tampering policy says on the subject: “Club personnel who make public comments about the football ability or NFL potential of underclassmen who have not yet been officially declared eligible for the draft will be subject to discipline by the Commissioner.”
Chris Burke of SI.com gives his three thoughts from the Eagles-Cowboys game:
3. Too many Eagles mistakes
Dallas led 21-0, Philadelphia answered with 24 straight points and by then it was apparent that an untimely mistake from either side may decide things. The Eagles proceeded to make several.
They turned it over three times in the final 15:04, more than offsetting the Romo fumble that helped the Eagles take their first (and only) lead of the game. The night also started on an ominous note for the hosts: Dan Bailey’s kickoff hung up in the wind and landed between Philadelphia returner Josh Huff and up-man Brad Smith. Dallas pounced on the fumble.
Add in a few defensive breakdowns and it all proved too much for the Eagles to overcome.
Now, they face an uphill climb back into the postseason. Because of losses to Arizona, Green Bay and Seattle, the Eagles have to finish 2-0 and hope that either a) the Packers or Lions finish 0-2, or b) the Cowboys stumble in Week 16 or 17. Anything else would leave the once 7-2 Eagles home for the postseason.
The natural reaction will be to circle back on Nick Foles’ injury, thereby blaming an inconsistent Mark Sanchez for the slide. Let’s be honest, Sanchez does himself no favors in those discussions when he plays as he did at times Sunday. Philadelphia’s next-to-last possession ended with Sanchez taking a pair of rather clumsy sacks; the final “drive” lasted all of two plays before Sanchez was picked off by Bruce Carter.
There are issues in Philadelphia beyond the QB spot, though, namely in the secondary. The time to get it all fixed is running quite thin.
Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com talks about the Eagles’ flaws in the loss to the Cowboys:
It was Bryant who was in a comfort zone all night, repeatedly getting the better of Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher. The two were separated by teammates during pregame warm-ups after a face-to-face confrontation of which Bryant slyly allowed that “a couple of words were exchanged” — without offering additional details.
Regardless of what was said, Bryant backed up his talk with six catches for 114 yards, including a career-high three touchdowns from quarterback Tony Romo. Fletcher was beaten on all three in man-on-man coverage, including beautiful Romo scoring lobs of 26 and 25 yards as Bryant got open running down the sideline. Bryant’s final score gave Dallas a 35-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“I just didn’t make the plays I needed to make,” Fletcher said. “It’s something that I have to live with.”
Fletcher’s struggles have persisted throughout the season. So have many of the other problems that recurred for the Eagles on Sunday night. The LeSean McCoy-led rushing attack couldn’t get on track (just 75 yards on 21 carries as a team). The offensive line surrendered four sacks of quarterback Mark Sanchez, who compounded his unit’s problems with two second-half interceptions. Even an Eagles strong point — special teams — suffered a major meltdown when Josh Huff couldn’t field the opening kickoff. Dallas recovered the fumble and scored its first touchdown little more than two minutes into the game on a one-yard Murray run.
Matt Cassidy is a journalism student at Temple and an intern at Birds 24/7.