There have been more panful losses over the past calendar year, but the Eagles have not looked that overmatched since a visit to Denver last September.
That was really, really bad. The entire country saw how good the Eagles can look against a struggling team last Monday, and today, most of them saw how bad they can look against an elite quarterback.
The way I see it, there are three approaches one could take after what transpired over the past three hours.
1. Jump off the Walt Whitman. The Eagles are a fraud, pretenders and not contenders at 7-3. Chip Kelly was ridiculously out coached, and Mark Sanchez isn’t good enough to get them to the playoffs. The defense is awful, and Dallas is going to win the division.
I don’t believe any of that for a second. I do have some obvious concerns about Sanchez, and the defense certainly underachieved today, but that line of thinking is a big time overreaction for a team still sitting pretty.
2. Today wasn’t a big deal at all. Aaron Rodgers does this to everyone, and the Packers caught a few lucky breaks. LeSean McCoy will get on track, and the pass rush will be better. We have nothing to worry about and will be fine in a January rematch.
I would buy into this rationale more than the first approach, but completely tossing this game out of the window would be brushing away some clear issues. The Eagles are better than what they showed today but came up short on a big stage.
3. The Packers are nearly unbeatable at Lambeau with Aaron Rodgers, but the Eagles never gave themselves a chance. Between bad penalties like Trent Cole jumping offsides on third and long in the first quarter and untimely turnovers, this one unraveled quickly. The Eagles are still 7-3 and in great shape. They haven’t been blown out in quite some time and were perhaps due for a letdown, but doesn’t make it hurt any less.
That is the way I mostly look at this. The Eagles are still in excellent shape overall but are trying to survive with a backup quarterback and a secondary that features three players who likely would not start for most other teams between Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, and Nate Allen. Rodgers, being one of the smartest and beset signal-callers on the planet, knew that and targeted Fletcher early and often.
In a chance to showcase himself for potential head coaching gigs next season, defensive coordinator Billy Davis looked miles behind Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.
Short yardage situations in the red zone are still a troublesome issue, and LeSean McCoy doesn’t look like LeSean McCoy even with 80 percent of the offensive line together.
Unfortunately, this team is still trying to recover from a few awful draft classes toward the end of the Andy Reid regime and are not getting much impact from this year’s rookies aside from Jordan Matthews. Marcus Smith, Jaylen Watkins, and Taylor Hart cannot get on the field, and Josh Huff is making mistakes every time he gets on the field.
The Eagles are at a point where while their roster is greatly improving, they still can’t afford to miss on many guys and need immediate impact from rookies whenever possible. They are getting absolutely nothing from their first round pick, and it hurts against an elite team like the Packers.
It is also becoming increasingly important that the Eagles win the division and find a way to get the second seed for a first round bye. 5-0 at home, 2-3 on the road. Despite being a very good road squad in 2013, they are clearly not the same team away from Lincoln Financial Field this season and need to end up there in January.
Thankfully there is a path for that. The Packers, Lions, and Cowboys all have three losses, and the Cardinals face four teams currently above .500 in their last six games.
A roadmap exists, and it starts next week at home against a bad Titans team before Turkey Day in Dallas.
Stay tuned for an announcement about something on our blog this week, but in the meantime, let’s hit the haiku and try to shake this one off some:
Fletcher picked on bad
Rodgers, Nelson, Cobb, oh my
Still seven and three