Who would have thought following a Thanksgiving Day blowout of Dallas, the Eagles, who at that time sat at 9-3, would eventually go on to one of the most epic collapses in recent memory. After that Thanksgiving Day game I and many others weren’t even just thinking playoffs, we were thinking first round bye and maybe even home field advantage throughout the post-season. Fast forward to December 21st, 2014 and we’re looking around saying what on earth just happened. The Eagles went from a team that looked poised for a playoff run to a team out of the post-season thanks to a dominating Dallas win over the Colts Sunday. The Eagles loss to the Redskins Saturday was one of the sloppiest, most frustrating games to watch in recent memory for an Eagles fan. They blew so many opportunities during that game. I didn’t have a good feeling going into the game and as things unfolded I just knew it’d all come back to bite the team in the rear end and that’s exactly what happened.
So where do we start breaking down this one. Let’s see, so many places, but I’m going to start with the defense, specifically Bradley Fletcher. At this point the only debate about Fletcher is if he’s the worst cornerback in Eagles history. We all remember how awful Nnamdi Asomugha was a few seasons back as he was the big free agent signing during the “dream team” summer. Fletcher is just as bad as Asomugha in my opinion. Yes, I know how bad Asomugha was; it was only a few short seasons ago he was getting burnt play after play but Fletcher is on that level. The thing with Fletcher is he is what he is. He was never supposed to be some big time, shutdown corner like Asomugha was. The thing is I can’t blame Fletcher entirely for his pathetic play. I have to put some serious blame directly on Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis as well as head coach Chip Kelly. Davis over the past 3 weeks has continuously tried to sell us fans on Fletcher and his belief about how he’s showing grit and can turn it around. Stop right there Billy because you’re not watching the same film the rest of us are. Fletcher can’t be trusted in one-on-one coverage with a top wide receiver. It’s flat out ignorant for Davis to sit there each week and tell us Fletcher can turn it around and then go out there and leave him matched up with the likes of Dez Bryant and DeSean Jackson and not give him the help he needs.
Chip Kelly also gets serious blame in this Fletcher situation because as the head coach he’s not acting like one. The head coach runs the entire team, not just the offense or the defense. For Chip Kelly to tell us after each game its Billy Davis’ call as the defensive coordinator to decide if Fletcher is starting or not is pathetic. Chip needs to act like a head coach and run the entire team not just the offense because any head coach out there can see Fletcher is incapable of being man to man against any receiver right now and as the head coach it’s your job to step in and give orders to your defensive coordinator. Kelly is showing us how much he really cares about the defense and guess what it cost the entire season. We saw during the Redskins game what can happen when you actually give Fletcher some safety help. Late in the game the Redskins went deep to DeSean Jackson and Nate Allen came over and intercepted the pass. That safety help should have been there the entire game not just late in the 4th quarter. If the safety is shading over to Fletchers side all game you take DeSean out of the game-plan and force the Redskins to consider other options and just maybe the game doesn’t turn out the way it does.
Let’s move on to the second culprit of Saturday and that’s Cody Parkey. He’s been money all season and I didn’t expect anything else from him on Saturday. Instead though, he had two wide-rights, which doubled his number of misses this season. I know a lot of people are saying Parkey had a groin injury coming into the game but guess what he was cleared by the trainers so if it bothered him that much he shouldn’t have been in the game. Parkey’s two misses left six possible points out on the table which would have been the difference between winning and losing.
I’m saving my biggest culprit for the meltdown for last. This guy isn’t responsible for just Saturday’s defeat he’s right up there with Bradley Fletcher as the biggest reason the Eagles aren’t going to the playoffs. I’m talking about Mark Sanchez. My fellow NY Jets fans who are friends of mine warned me of him and they knew what they were talking about. Sanchez is nothing more than a choke job in the big moments. I had a feeling he was going to throw an interception late in the game when it would have hurt the most and that’s exactly what he did against the Redskins. It’s a shame because if he doesn’t throw that interception we’re talking about a half decent performance. Sanchez finished with a career high 374 yards passing and two touchdowns. But none of that matters because late in the game he throws a key interception which set up the game winning field goal for the Redskins. It hasn’t been just this week though. Sanchez has been on the downslide since the Thanksgiving game. He had some decent games (Carolina, Dallas on Thanksgiving) but he’s been far worse in the losses and you can’t be a legit playoff team with a QB that can’t come up big in key moments of the game. Sanchez was a back-up QB for a reason and it’s obvious he belongs on the bench. For those Sanchez supporters out there (if any of you are left) I know it’s easy to say Parkey missed the field goals, Fletcher couldn’t cover DeSean. But bottom line is even with all of that this team had the chance to drive down the field and win. Sanchez could have led this team down for a field goal to escape with a win and he couldn’t get the job done and that’s why I put Sanchez as the main culprit for losing to the Redskins and effectively ending the Eagles season. He was pathetic against the Cowboys the week before also as he threw key interceptions in that game as well.
I don’t know who the long term answer is for the Eagles at quarterback but it’s not Sanchez and not Nick Foles either. Foles showed us this season he’s not a franchise QB. He’s a stop-gap for the next QB which is somewhere in the college ranks still. This team does not have a long term answer at QB and Chip Kelly has done a phenomenal job making these guys look like all pro QB’s. Bottom line, in the NFL in order to win a Superbowl you either need an upper echelon QB or a top flight defense and the Eagles have neither. The secondary needs a complete make-over of everyone except Malcolm Jenkins and the QB is just a question mark right now.
For those of you out there thinking this can all be fixed in free agency you’re also wrong. Don’t forget the Eagles tried the quick fix with free agency a few seasons back which resulted in the epic “Dream Team” failure. In order to build a successful team you need to build through the draft. Unfortunately though, this team is awful at selecting talent in the draft. This past year they selected linebacker Marcus Smith with their first round pick. Smith has struggled to even qualify to dress for any games this year. A first round pick is supposed to be an impact player right out of the gate in their rookie season. With a pick like that being wasted I have no faith this team can build a winner through the draft either. So folks what I’m trying to say is sit back and get ready for a long overhaul for the Eagles. Without a legit QB and defense this team is at best a one win playoff team if they get some lucky bounces along the way but they aren’t a Superbowl contender and won’t be any time soon until the QB and defense is addressed. What we all witnessed was probably the worst collapse in Eagles history since 1994. That season under Rich Kotite the Eagles started 7-2 then lost the final 7 games of the season and missed the playoffs. With Dallas officially eliminating the Eagles today with a win over the Colts it’s time for the Eagles to start some rookies and Matt Barkley at QB next week against the Giants. In order to build for next season you need to see what you have on the current roster outside of the guys who already blew the season for you. If the season ended on Thanksgiving then I’d say it was a hell of a year, but it ended December 21st. So with that said thanks for nothing 2014 Eagles and as we usually say this time of the year after another season ends… there’s always next year.