MINNEAPOLIS — This week, as the 3-3 Eagles prepare to go to Dallas, we might hear them say that the upcoming NFC East matchup will show who they really are.
Maybe so. But it is hard to shake the perception that they showed us who they were on Sunday — slow, unathletic, not as good as they were supposed to be on either the offensive or the defensive line. Thoroughly mediocre just about everywhere but quarterback, with a secondary that is an all-out disaster area.
Jalen Mills is supposed to practice this week, but the Eagles need another Jalen, the one in Jacksonville who was inactive again Sunday. Then again, even Jalen Ramsey might not make this a decent unit.
The Eagles lost two more key players in a 38-20 drubbing by the host Minnesota Vikings, left tackle Jason Peters, with a knee injury, and linebacker Nigel Bradham with an ankle.
In a season that has seen several really bad Eagles starts, this was the worst.
They were down 10-0 and had run three plays with a minute and 54 seconds left in the first quarter. Carson Wentz’s first pass attempt, a 4-yard completion to Alshon Jeffery, was the final play of the quarter.
The Eagles spent the week talking about stopping the run. Kirk Cousins was barely part of the conversation. So of course, the Vikings’ running backs combined to gain 39 yards on 11 carries in the first half, while Cousins completed 12 of 17 passes for 209 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that turned out to be harmless when the Eagles bungled a fake field goal just before halftime.
Cousins ended the day 22-for-29 for 333 yards and four touchdowns, racking up a 138.4 passer rating. The Eagles’ secondary was just chaos. Twice Rasul Douglas gave up long touchdown throws to Stefon Diggs, Douglas clearly expecting safety help that wasn’t there.
As has been the case previously, the Eagles worked hard at climbing out of the hole they dug, this time 24-3 with 9:31 left in the second quarter. They got a 32-yard catch from rookie running back Miles Sanders for one touchdown and a 45-yard Sanders catch to set up another, Wentz dodging the pass rush to hit Jeffery across the middle.
They were back within 24-20 on Jake Elliott’s 40-yard field goal with 6:19 remaining in the third quarter, but the defense couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Nine plays, 75 yards, Diggs with his fourth touchdown catch of the game, from 11 yards, a toe-tap at the back of the end zone with Craig James in coverage.
James, cut by the Vikings before the season, was playing because Sidney Jones was on the bench. The third-year corner who ought to be the Eagles’ best corner played a horrible first half, coming back from a hamstring injury.
Jones returned to take a defensive holding penalty that gave Minnesota first-and-goal from the Eagles’ 3, setting up the Dalvin Cook run that made it 38-20 with 8:17 remaining.