The Eagles are a bad team and worked hard to become one. Don’t expect them to get better soon. | Mike Sielski
They’re 2-5 and have so many problems and shortcomings that a fast fix isn’t possible. Buckle up for a long 10 weeks to come.
LAS VEGAS — The beefy man, his spiked hair dyed a severe shade of blond, began ranting. His face was red as a melon’s pulp, and he was screaming at the top of his lungs. And after Guy Fieri finished firing up all the Raiders fans here Sunday at Allegiant Stadium and the videoboard cut away from him, another man fitting the same general physical description as America’s favorite chef made it clear how bad the Eagles are and how far they might yet fall.
Jason Kelce had had his helmet knocked off in a mid-play scrum, and when he got to his feet, he was apoplectic. He was screaming. He appeared to step on a Raiders player who was on the ground. He was flagged for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. This was unlike him. This was an indication of anger and frustration that went beyond a single play. This was an obvious and understandable reaction to a 33-22 loss that was, in truth, a rout.
Diner? Drive-in? Dive?
The Eagles, right now, are a dump.
Sunday’s game was many things, but what it wasn’t was an outlier. The Eagles are a bad team, and the more pressing and distressing fact is that they have been a bad team for a pretty long time — for nearly a season-and-a-half. They have failed to win 17 of their 23 games over that period. They have lost with Jalen Hurts as their quarterback and with Carson Wentz as their quarterback. They have lost — and looked lost — with Nick Sirianni as their coach and with Doug Pederson as their coach. They have played Charmin-soft defense with Jonathan Gannon overseeing the unit and with Jim Schwartz overseeing the unit.
» READ MORE: Eagles-Raiders analysis: Embarrassing, mistake-filled loss in Las Vegas leads to questions about coaching
Given the mediocrity, or something less than it, throughout the NFC East, they had an elementary standard to meet this season to remain competitive: They just had to be competent. They’re 2-5. They commit the most penalties in the NFL, by a Secretariat-at-the-Belmont margin. They allowed the Raiders, who entered Sunday’s game last in the league in yards per rushing attempt, to average nearly 5 yards per carry, and they allowed Derek Carr to complete passes at roughly the same rate that Steph Curry makes foul shots. They could trade for Ben Simmons tomorrow, and it would improve their image.
So what’s the primary problem?
Is it the coaching?
Is it the talent?
Is it the front office?
» READ MORE: Eagles’ loss to Raiders turns into referendum on defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s scheme
Take a step back for a second and consider what the Eagles have done to themselves, the self-inflicted damage since the 2020 NFL draft. That’s 18 months. Over that time, they used a second-round draft pick on a backup quarterback, which they did not foresee would infuriate their starting quarterback, whom they had just signed to a four-year, $128-million contract extension. That starting quarterback then unfurled the worst season of any starting quarterback in the league — a season that included his getting benched, pouting about it, and demanding to be traded, which the Eagles did, at an exorbitant cost to their salary-cap flexibility.
They fired the only head coach in franchise history to win a Super Bowl, in large part because — how dare he! — he wanted more say in who his assistant coaches would be. They then, to succeed that coach, hired a candidate who had never been a head coach at any level of football, who in turn hired a staff with precious little NFL coaching experience. And they have generally managed to draft and sign underwhelming players at wide receiver, linebacker, safety, and defensive end. They might have three first-round picks in next year’s draft, but there isn’t much evidence lately to suggest that anyone should be confident in their player-personnel department’s ability to scout, target, and select the right prospects.
So what I’m saying is, the Eagles have worked hard to get where they are. And where they are isn’t pretty, and it won’t get pretty anytime soon. Kelce’s tirade wasn’t the only telling moment Sunday, and it may not have been even the most telling. When Sirianni had Jake Elliott attempt an onside kick to start the second half, it wasn’t necessarily a bad decision, even though the Raiders recovered it and promptly drove for a touchdown. “Felt good about it,” Sirianni said. “We didn’t feel like we were getting enough stops in the first half on defense. Wanted to be aggressive. I’d do it again.” But the mere fact that he felt the need to try it spoke to his confidence in his own team. This wasn’t Andy Reid sending a defiant message to the Dallas Cowboys on opening day 2000. This was a desperate coach who seemed to resort to a gimmick because he didn’t believe his team, from the roster’s top to its bottom, couldn’t just line up and play.
“I’ve got so much confidence in our guys,” Sirianni said. “I love our team. But that’s what we’re going to say when things go like they did.”
That was as close as a coach comes to reading the stage directions for his postgame press conference. Don’t bother with Sirianni’s words, or anyone else’s. The proof is in the product, and the product speaks for itself.
» READ MORE: Miles Sanders suffers cruelest of ironies in Eagles loss after Nick Sirianni finally decides to run the ball | Jeff McLane