No defense dooms Eagles in loss to Miami Dolphins, and other takeaways | Bob Ford
This was supposed to be an automatic win for the Eagles, even if it turned out to be tough. No such luck.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The operative cliché after Sunday’s game against Miami was supposed to be that a win is a win, and they never ask how, just how many. Even as the game got ugly, it seemed inevitable the Eagles would find a way to get past the 2-9 Dolphins.
Well, time to find a new cliché.
How about this one: If it smells like a dog, it’s probably a dog.
The Eagles shot their postseason scenario into pieces in losing 37-31 to Miami. They were inconsistent on offense, probably good enough to win a lot of games, but utterly awful on defense.
The Dolphins hadn’t scored this many points since a 44-26 win over Houston on Oct. 25, 2015. It really doesn’t matter if the Eagles are capable of being that bad or whether they took Miami lightly. Either way, this is a team that should need to buy tickets if it wants to attend a postseason game.
The Dolphins came into the game ranked 30th in offense and 30th in defense, and with a quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was ranked 34th among NFL quarterbacks.
Regardless, Miami equaled its previous high for points scored this season — 26 — by the end of the third quarter. Fitzpatrick, often under duress, was able to pick apart the Eagles secondary, having particular luck against Darby and Jalen Mills. Receiver DeVante Parker had seven catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Out of position
Field position is a nice thing to have. The Eagles didn’t do well without it.
The Eagles were gifted with excellent field position for their opening drives of both the first and second half on Sunday against the Dolphins.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception directly into the arms of Ronald Darby on the very first play of the game, setting up the Eagles with a first down at the Miami 18-yard line. The Dolphins elected to begin the second half with an onside kick attempt that was flagged down and recovered by T.J. Edwards, giving the Eagles a starting point of the Miami 47-yard line.
The Eagles scored touchdowns on both ensuing drives, the first on a swing pass to Miles Sanders and the second on a pop pass over the middle to Alshon Jeffery.
Miami, on the other hand, aside from its other issues, started no better than its own 25-yard line on the first six Dolphins possessions. It wasn’t until a missed Eagles field goal attempt with 4 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter that Fitzpatrick was working with anything resembling a short field. And even that was only at the Miami 39-yard line.
The Eagles had seven drives that began on their own 25-yard line. They scored a total of 13 points on those. If the Dolphins didn’t make things easy for them, they had a hard time.
Carson Wentz continues to present a baffling picture. His throws are occasionally brilliant, but are alternately by utterly awful attempts. It was one thing to assume several weeks ago that the issues were related to unfamiliarity with his receivers. But with Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor back from injury, that excuse was not in play on Sunday.
He looks about the same mechanically, but shows little consistency in the pocket. Some of his best moments against the Dolphins came when there was a moving pocket and he had to work on the run. Sitting back and thinking things through didn’t seem to help him. That’s not a good sign.