By Kevin McGuire
One thing became crystal clear on Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles were steam rolled by the Atlanta Falcons: The Eagles have a plethora of problems, and the starting quarterback is just one of them.
This week the Eagles were rumored to be leaning toward making a change at quarterback by benching the veteran Mike Vick in favor of rookie Nick Foles, this year’s preseason star of the fans. A productive and solid preseason in which Vick missed a lot of time due to injury concerns gave fans a chance to soak in Foles for all he is worth, and imaginations ran wild about seeing the Eagles immediately switch to the rookie out of Arizona. Perhaps it was Vick-fatigue, a growing concern for his health stability or maybe it was just wishful fans hoping for something to change in order to have something, anything, to look forward to.
The play at quarterback is just one part of the mess. The entire offense has struggled this season with an injury-riddled offensive line forcing some players to fill in some big holes in the trenches, leaving little protection for the quarterback to get the passing game and not allowing for any chance for the running game to get on track on a consistent basis.
“We are not capitalizing,” Eagles running back LeSean McCoy said following Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons. “We are not doing the small things. We are not playing at a high level like we should be. That’s the only way I can explain it.”
He is not alone with that though. That mindset is shared by wide receiver Jason Avant.
“We have to be cohesive,” Avant said. “Sometimes it’s me and sometimes it’s other guys. It’s hitting us at the wrong time.”
The team enters November on a three-game losing streak and hopes are quickly diminishing. The firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo did little to nothing to light a fire under a defense that has been unimpressive and unable to get off the field in critical situations this season. A lack of pressure and a lack of turnovers paired with the realization that some of the team’s big names may be beyond their prime quicker than expected leaves the Eagles and their fans with a number of reasons to have concern for this season’s playoff chances.
Philadelphia currently sits in 11th place in a crowded NFC with a 3-4 record. The NFC East crown has started to slip out of reach with the New York Giants sitting on top of the division with a 6-2 record and three NFC East wins already. The Eagles still have five games to play against NFC East competition, with two each against the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. A three-game losing skid though leaves the Eagles in a tough spot, needing to chase the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers for one of the two NFC wild card spots, as well as the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions (lost a head-to-head tiebreaker to each) in addition to the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“We have to keep it positive,” McCoy said. “There is no time to dwell on the losses. We can’t focus on the negatives. We have to keep it positive and keep going.”
Kevin McGuire covers college football for Examiner.com and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter (@KevinOnCFB). His work can be found on Examiner.com.