For the first time since 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles fall short of playoffs.
For a multitude of reasons, the 2020-21 season has been disappointing, to say the least for Philadelphia. This past Sunday was no different.
Head coach Doug Pederson and his fellow Birds went from leading the NFC East to dead last, with a current 4-10-1 record.
After losing 17-37 to the Dallas Cowboys, playoffs are now an unattained goal.
CAME IN LIKE A WRECKING BALL
The Eagles came in hot Sunday.
After receiving the ball first, running back Miles Sanders ran for two first downs before rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts ran twice to move the Eagles into the red zone. Sanders made another 1st-and-goal from the 5-yard line, and Hurts ran into the endzone for a touchdown. Despite being out of bounds, Sanders finished the drive giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
Defensive end Vinny Curry sacked Cowboys’ quarterback Andy Dalton followed by an incomplete third-down pass. Dallas was unable to score seven but made a 35-yard field goal.
Philly didn’t stop there.
Jalen Hurts threw to wide receiver DeSean Jackson for an 81-yard touchdown, putting the Eagles ahead by 11 points. Unfortunately, that this was Jackson’s only touchdown of the season [after suffering two injuries], but it was a big one. He is now tied for the most receiving touchdowns of 80-plus yards in NFL history.
SPOKE TOO SOON
Essentially, that was it for the Eagles.
The Cowboys scored a 21-yard touchdown, running back Boston Scott fumbled the Cowboys’ kickoff, and Cameron Johnston’s punt went out of bounds. Cowboys scored a 20-yard field goal.
On the next two runs, wide receivers Greg Ward and Dallas Goedert caught for a first-down but Hurts eventually overthrew to Jalen Reagor. A 38-yard field goal was attempted, and luckily for Philadelphia, Jake Elliott completed all of his kicks this game [finally!].
The Cowboys scored again, and the Eagles tried to recover but a second false start by Matt Pryor quickly put that to rest.
The Birds entered the locker room at half-time trailing 17-20.
NO FIGHT LEFT FOR THE BIRDS
The second half of the game was abysmal. The Cowboys scored a 52-yard touchdown, followed by a 21-yard field goal.
A small glimmer of hope appeared when Hurts threw to Quez Watkins for a 43-yard gain, but Hurts was later sacked. Then, Darius Slay shows up with an interception, becoming the first Eagles’ cornerback with one since 2019.
The excitement was short-lived.
Penalties racked up — another from Pryor, one from Zach Ertz, and a false start by Isaac Seumalo. Hurts threw an interception, fumbled the ball [poor call by the refs], then turned it over again. And to throw even more water into the grease fire, Hurts threw an interception again, ending the game.
An old aged rivalry played by two back-up quarterbacks, leaving one of the worst defenses in the league to pull through. The Eagles never deserved the potential playoff spot.
If the game solidified anything, it’s that player health is essential. Self-explanatory, right? Jackson missed the last seven games, becoming active for the Eagles-Cowboys match-up. Imagine what he could have done all season if he remained well.
The same can be said for the defense. Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, Rodney McLeod, and Avonte Maddox were already out. Now add six-time Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox to that. Cox left Sunday’s game early with a stinger. After his departure, the Eagles allowed 24 points. Twenty-four.
What might be the biggest takeaway is that Carson Wentz was not the team’s only problem after all. Jalen Hurts has started in three games and has now gone 1-2. He has nine sacks and two interceptions. And that’s not to say he’s horrible, but he made mistakes; he’s human.
Hurts also had no offensive line to fall back on — a scenario all too familiar to the Eagles’ quarterback position.
Last but certainly not least is the play calling. Whether it be Wentz or Hurts, it remains an undeniable issue — like, going for fourth-and-15, per se.
WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR THE EAGLES?
One thing is certain — the past does not dictate the future.
In 2017, Philadelphia won the division 13-3, defeating the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. The following two years, they advanced to the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
Following Sunday’s game, the Philadelphia Eagles are now the worst team in the worst division in the NFL. It’s better than being the worst team overall, right?
They will now face Washington next week in a meaningless game [for Philly]. At this point the Eagles must rely on change.
Better luck next year.