The Eagles lost Sunday. Good.
Good, because it ended their involvement in the charade of chasing the regular-season championship of what might be the worst division in NFL history.
Good, because the Cowboys’ 37-17 victory, despite another decent performance by Jalen Hurts, should bury the notion, once and for all, that trading Carson Wentz, replacing Carson Wentz, or exiling Carson Wentz to the Mediterranean for crimes against decent football this season will cure all or most or even some of what ails the Eagles. They have an overall talent deficit. They have salary-cap issues. They suffer an ungodly number of injuries each season, no matter what changes they make to their medical and training staff.
Good, because it will have been three years since their victory in Super Bowl LII, and the afterglow has been dimming ever since. There has been a steady decline since that night in Minneapolis, and an empty win Sunday leading perhaps to an empty playoff berth would have only obscured the rehabilitation that this franchise requires.
Good, because really, do we need to see more of Matt Pryor at right tackle? Or Dave Fipp’s special teams?
Good, because really, do we want to keep asking, What happened to Zach Ertz, and where did DeSean Jackson go?
Good, because the Eagles lost their opener to the Washington Football Team, who had Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, and in light of Haskins’ behavior and performance since, that loss should stand as the most revealing result of the Eagles’ entire season.
Good, because wins over teams led by Nick Mullens, Ben DiNucci, and Taysom Hill can cover up a lot of sins, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of shortcomings.
Good, because this coming offseason will define the Eagles’ future for a long time, and they had better have a clear view of what they are and what they need to do.
Because you know what they aren’t?
They aren’t good.
No Jacquet required
It was clear that the Cowboys made Eagles rookie cornerback Michael Jacquet . what would be the kind way to put it … a point of emphasis in their game plan. With Jacquet covering Michael Gallup most of Sunday, Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton completed six passes to Gallup for 121 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half. Then Amari Cooper burned Jacquet for a 69-yard catch-and-run midway through the third quarter. Finally, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz moved Jalen Mills from safety to corner and benched Jacquet, who allowed seven receptions for 182 yards to the receivers he “covered.”
Given the injuries to the Eagles’ secondary, Schwartz could do only so much to slow down the Dallas passing game. Fletcher Cox left the game in the second quarter with what the Eagles called a stinger, and they were already without Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat. So the idea of blitzing Dalton repeatedly in the hopes of overwhelming him with a pass rush didn’t have a great chance of working. It might have been their only hope, though, and considering the results with Schwartz standing pat and hoping his scout-team secondary’s coverage would hold up, would it have been that bad to try?
More, the result spoke to two problems for the Eagles: 1) Schwartz’s inflexibility in his scheme and approach, and 2) the failure of the front office and coaching staff to cultivate enough depth to mitigate at least some of the injuries to the defense.
Someone still has to win this lousy division
The Cowboys can still win the NFC East, and their offense still features Cooper, Gallup, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dalton, who led the Bengals to the playoffs four times in his nine seasons in Cincinnati. That’s not awful. Their defense is, but that offensive core isn’t.