By CJ Carlson
The Philadelphia Eagles were sitting atop the NFC conference just a couple of weeks ago. At that point in time, everybody believed that it would be a scary sight if the Eagles started to play their best football. After all, they had played a ton of uninspired games early on in the year. However, it’s starting to look like there isn’t a better version of this Eagles team, and that we might have already seen the best this group can perform.
We’ve all been worried about this Eagles group lately, as they’ve not lost four of their past five. Right now, they are sitting in a Wild Card spot i n the playoffs as opposed to the one seed that they were a few weeks ago. The one win that they stole in the middle of this poor streak came against the New York Giants in a one-score game that they narrowly escaped from. In Week 17, they were upset by the lowly Arizona Cardinals, allowing 35 points in the process.
The offense looks fine, but the defense continues to worry the coaches and fans alike. Entering the season, we knew that they were a little thin in the secondary, and they were thin at the linebacker position. They had two strong corners and a great defensive line, though outside of that it gets worrisome. One of their better members of the secondary in Avonte Maddix got injured early on and it’s been a hole they haven’t filled yet. On top of that, Darius Slay has missed time with his own injury, creating massive gaps in their passing defense. Yes, they traded for Kevin Byard, but they also got rid of their starting safety at the beginning of the year in the process.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense Has Declined Drastically
After their horrible game against the Cardinals, the Eagles have now given up 25 points per game to their opponents. They are in the bottom 10 in the league when it comes to this category. Oh, and they’ve given up at least 30 points in six games this year, three times during the month of December. To some, they might be under the impression that the Eagles weren’t the greatest statistically on the defensive end last season and they still made the Super Bowl. That’s not the case though. Philadelphia’s defense was eighth in the league last season when it came to points allowed. This is a far fall from grace in just one season.
Part of the reason is injuries and free agency losses, but the biggest part could be their defensive coordinator. Jonathan Gannon left in the offseason to take over as the Cardinals head coach, the team that just beat Philadelphia. Gannon created an absence in the offseason that was filled by Sean Desai. However, a few weeks ago, the team stripped play calling duties from Desai and handed them over to Matt Patricia. Patricia taking over hasn’t resulted in a big change on the defensive side of the ball. It is interesting that they made a play calling change so quickly though, as it could indicate a deeper worry from the coaching staff on that side of the field.
When talking to their head coach Nick Sirianni, he admitted that he still has a ton of faith in his squad to turn things around again. He said, “I do believe. I still believe in the guys in that locker room, the players. I still believe in the coaches. I think we’ve got the guys in this place to get turned in the right direction. We don’t have much time, obviously, right. We’ve got one more game before the playoffs start, and we’ve got to do everything we can do to get back on track this upcoming week. I think there’s been spurts, obviously, the last couple games where we played good ball on defense. Tonight wasn’t one of those times.”
The Eagles still have an opportunity to climb up the standings in the NFC with a win in their season finale against the New York Giants. Although, one more loss to end the regular season could devastate their chances of a deep playoff run. Not only would it make their issues that much clearer, but it would also force them to play a road playoff game in the Wild Card round. Plus, who knows what five losses in six games can do to people’s confidence. This is a huge game for Philadelphia next weekend.