Eagles going in wrong direction
LANDOVER, Md. – And now, the most popular players in Philadelphia are 2012 marquee draftees Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Those quarterbacks, taken 1-2 just 3 years ago, must play well enough for Indianapolis to and Washington beat Dallas this weekend and next for the Eagles retain a hope of reaching the playoffs, assuming the Eagles beat the Giants next week.
If Dallas beats either, the Eagles' season ends.
A little more than 3 months ago Luck could not have been more relived by Philadelphia.
Luck, generally considered the best young quarterback in the NFL, had led his Colts to a fourth-quarter lead at Indianapolis. The Eagles came back and won, but Luck clearly was the best player on the field – a bitter pill, considering Philadelphia's waning, misguided love affair with Nick Foles.
Now, Luck is the Eagles' best, slim bet to make the playoffs.
Next week, RGIII.
The Eagles deserve no mercy.
They missed two field goals, committed 13 penalties and turned the ball over twice.
"You're not going to win football games like that," coach Chip Kelly said.
With every other relevant team suddenly looking backward at the Eagles, it was, as several Birds said, a do-or-die weekend.
They didn't do, and, so, they're mostly dead.
This is fitting.
This is just.
The Eagles lost three games in December; or, rather, they were beaten.
"I don't know if we deserve anything," said second-year right tackle Lane Johnson after another up-and-down performance.
They lost at home to very good clubs from Dallas and Seattle.
The Eagles lost here today, 27-24, to a punch-line team playing for nothing but stats and jobs.
They won nine of their first 15 games, but they were never really good; not good enough to sustain winning, even against a lousy team unstable from its quarterback through its coach to its owner.
"We're 9-6," said outside linebacker Conner Barwin, having possibly played his last game in what was possibly his first Pro Bowl season. "Nine and six; that's what we are."
The Eagles needed 10 touchdowns from special teams and defense to make themselves respectable.
They constructed the team with Mark Sanchez as its No. 2 quarterback, and they paid. Sanchez was efficient against Washington, but his 10th interception in eight games, this one with 91 seconds to play in a tie game, doomed the Eagles.
The presence of Sanchez and offseason release of DeSean Jackson eliminated any real deep threat, and so the Eagles became a short-passing team whose best player, running back LeSean McCoy, became a swarmed-upon decoy; 88 grueling yards on 22 runs against Washington.
If they hadn't been playing the team with the most losses in the past three seasons they would have been nowhere near a lead.
The Eagles' first drive featured left tackle Jason Peters jumping early, hybrid back Darren Sproles dropping a pass and Johnson getting burned by Ryan Kerrigan, who forced a fumble by Mark Sanchez, himself oddly frozen in the pocket.
Cary Williams extended the Redskins' field goal drive with a penalty when he pushed Andre Roberts in front of an official after a play, and then Malcolm Jenkins jumped a route but dropped an interception that he might have returned for a touchdown.
The Redskins went ahead after Fletcher was, simply, burned deep by Jackson for 51 yards, which set up a touchdown. Jackson, of course, took his alleged gang ties and went to Washington.
On the Eagles' second touchdown drive both tackles committed holding penalties but the Eagles converted third downs of 25 and 16 yards against a toothless pass defense. This is, after all, the worst team in football.
So, what does that make the Eagles right now?
Still, the Birds botched any shot at a last-minute score in the first half when Jordan Matthews dropped a pass and Sproles ran an incorrect route … coming out of a timeout.
The Eagles caught a two breaks when Jenkins forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and when Riley Cooper committed an uncalled pass interference on third down, but wasted it when Cody Parkey pushed a 34-yard field goal wide right.
Brandon Graham popped Griffin in the head on third down, which extended Washington's first drive of the second half and set up Vinny Curry's roughing penalty on third down, which framed Washington's go-ahead touchdown.
Parkey pushed another one right on the next drive, from 47 yards; this, after the Birds got nothing on a third-and-1 run by McCoy.
Jackson burned Fletcher for another bomb, this one 55 yards, then drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone on safety Nate Allen that framed another TD and a 24-14 lead. It also mercifully ended Fletcher's 2-year campaign as a starter.
The Eagles responded with a touchdown, but only after a holding penalty on special teams and on the offense made things 20 yards more difficult than necessary. They tied it with a field goal on the next drive, but Sanchez' interception and a another crucial penalty on Graham set up Washington's 26-yard field goal in the final seconds.
Probably, the final meaningful seconds of the Eagles' season, unless two third-year passers beat the 'Boys.
Which is only fitting.