The Eagles took a commanding 10 point lead late in the 4th quarter on Sunday. In just a few minutes, the Lions came back to erase that 10 point lead. Not too long after that, Jason Hanson kicked a 45-yard field goal to propel Detroit to a 26-23 overtime comeback victory over our birds. For the first time this season, an Eagles loss at first seemed more shocking then upsetting. There are many places to point fingers. Michael Vick‘s inability to hold onto the football (yet another multi-turnover game for the Machine), the offensive genius of Andy Reid & Marty Mornhinweg failing to fully utilize LeSean McCoy (only 21 total touches), or even the special teams continuing to give up big play after big play. However, this week, a Lion’s share of the blame (no pun intended) went towards the defense, who failed to hold the aforementioned 10 point lead with minutes left to play.
The fallout from this week’s defeat is already being felt. The Eagles announced early this week that they’ve parted ways with Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo. Castillo took over the defense last season after the Eagles fired former coordinator Sean McDermott. The move was met with much criticism and speculation, particularly over Castillo’s implementation (along with the other new defensive coaches) of the wide nine defense. Castillo’s tenure ends up being a short-lived one, as his defense has failed to progress considerably from last year. After two straight weeks of failing to hold late leads, the Eagles decided it was time to move on.
The blame cannot be placed entirely on Castillo. The interior linemen haven’t lived up to expectations this season, and Nnamdi Asomugha has yet to show us the shutdown corner skills that made him one of the best in the game. The secondary lacks the bite it lost when number 20 walked out the door four years ago. On the other side of the ball, Vick still can’t hold onto the football, or consistently make good decisions when throwing it. In his defense, the offensive line can’t stop anybody from burying Mike into the ground on every single play. As stated before, McCoy doesn’t get the touches he wants and deserves. All these factors add up to make the Eagles offense rank 31st in the NFL in points per game (only Jacksonville is worse). Add to this a completely inept special teams squad and you get a team that just plain stinks.
While the blame for the disappointing first six games can’t be placed squarely on Castillo (in fact, most of it can be placed elsewhere), the first of many shoes had to drop somewhere. The defense allows an average of 20.8 points per game, and 330.8 yards. That’s not great by any stretch of the imagination, but when compared to the other units, it looks a lot better. One has to wonder why the offense hasn’t been put under the microscope as much as the defense, and if it’s only a matter of time before the front office begin to take a look at the man hiring these coaches. Without a victory in the last two an a half weeks, the Eagles can no longer mask their deficiencies. They are defenseless to stop these criticisms, and if this trend continues, the birds will be doomed to miss the playoffs for a second year in a row.