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Birdfeed: Vol. 18.10; Gut Punch

As an Eagles fan, there’s nothing worse than losing to Dallas in a must-win game… at home… in prime time… as the favorite… while wearing all black. (Photo by Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Sunday night was a repeat of every other Eagles game this season. For stretches the defense looked dominant (albeit against a crummy offense) while the offense moved up and down the field at will. Unfortunately, that dominant defense disappeared entirely for the final 31 minutes. The offense was effective for even less time, accumulating yards and scoring points for only one third of the game.

I’ve said it countless times and I will repeat it again: Everything Doug Pederson and the team preached in the offseason was a complete lie. Pederson said competing for titles would be the “new normal.” Instead, here we are a week from Thanksgiving competing for our postseason lives. The players assured us there was no Super Bowl hangover and last season’s success would only make them hungry for more. Uh, no. This team has been undisciplined, sloppy and nonchalant all season long. They fail to execute in so many ways in big moments and small moments alike it’s beyond flabbergasting.

For example, there was a play in the 2nd half when Dak Prescott rolled out to his right. Ezekiel Elliott was another 6 feet to Prescott’s right. It was clearly an option. Jordan Hicks made the correct read and attacked Prescott. The secondary defender (I forget who) decided to also attack Prescott and completely ignore Elliott. Of course Prescott pitched the football. A play the Eagles sniffed out for a loss resulted in a Dallas 1st down. There were offensive examples as well. Two blockers allowing a single linebacker to slip through on a crucial 3rd and 2 late in the 4th quarter was inexcusable. Carson Wentz throwing Alshon Jeffrey into coverage in the end zone instead of hitting him where Jeffrey correctly sat wide open between defensive zones was another costly miscue. Running short of the sticks on the decisive 4th down was perhaps the only bad thing Zach Ertz did all night, but it cost the Eagles a chance to tie the game.

Coaches are to blame as well. How many times is Pederson going to call plays on 3rd or 4th and short that go backward before forward? Also, is Andy Reid calling challenges again? Challenging a spot over 5 feet on 2nd down seemed completely pointless, even for Dougie. While we’re here, I’m terrified of what Pederson will be in two years. Is Pederson our version of Mike McCarthy, a completely overmatched and often incompetent coach who keeps his job five years longer than he should because he won a Super Bowl once? Dougie has been that much of a disaster this season. I so hope I look like a fool for those last two sentences but the evidence over the last three months is not encouraging.

And what about Jim Schwartz’s defense? They should revoke the title of “defense” from his unit. Call them an “obstacle,” but please don’t call them a defense. The miserable Dallas offense punted once on six possessions from the end of the 1st quarter to their final possession in the 4th. This was an offense averaging 19 points and 317 yards per game prior to Sunday. The Eagles surrendered 27 points and 410 yards. Did I mention Prescott’s 270 yards was the 3rd highest over his last 27 games? Can we all agree the “sticks defense” on 3rd down, while a novel idea,” isn’t the most appropriate for a team THAT CAN’T TACKLE!!! I know injuries have decimated the defense, but incompetence has been the biggest culprit in 2018.

Whatever.

The season is on a precipice now. A loss Sunday in New Orleans would put the Eagles playoff hopes on life support. Of course, it would totally be the Eagles thing to do to go ahead and win that game just to torture us all. Either way, this team has to decide if they want to prove last year’s underdog run wasn’t a fluke. Or, they can just continue rolling over like dogs.

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