By Joseph Santoliquito
New Orleans, LA (CBS) — Now it’s official. The foreboding whispers of finality had been encircling the Eagles for the last few weeks like vultures looking for scraps. But after the New Orleans Saints drubbed the Eagles, 28-13, Monday night on national TV—it’s a matter of time before the Eagles and head coach Andy Reid part ways.
It marked the fourth-straight loss for the Eagles, who fell to 3-5 and they now become an afterthought on the Philadelphia sports fall docket. It’s the fifth time the Eagles have lost four-straight games during Reid’s 14-year tenure (twice in 1999, 2005, 2011).
And it featured a batch of the same faux pas that have plagued the Eagles throughout this season: turnovers, embarrassing shoddy tackling, a defense that seems to be regressing under new coordinator Todd Bowles, inability to score touchdowns in the red zone and bad pass protection.
The Eagles managed 13 points—that’s 13 points—against the worst defense in the NFL. It’s 13 points while amassing 447 yards of total offense.
Defensively over the last two games, since Bowles has taken over, the Eagles have allowed an average of 29 points a game, 6.3 yards per play, 381.5 yards of total offense a game, and 238.5 yards passing a game.
Not exactly sterling numbers. Adding to that dismal mix is the weak tackling. During one sequence in the second quarter, Mark Ingram bulled through Nnamdi Asomugha, and it took five Eagles to bring him down.
“When you’re 0-for-5 in the red zone, you have seven sacks, you’re attack line is terrible then you’re going to struggle to win games in this league,” Reid said. “We have to tackle. That’s what we have to do. When you’re put in position to tackle, you have to get the guy down. When you’re put in position to tackle, you tackle, that’s what you do.
“You stick with your fundamentals and basics and correct the mistakes; these are correctable mistakes. The red zone weren’t necessarily the same mistakes. The tackling, we didn’t tackle
very well. If I saw they weren’t playing hard, I would question that.”
The Eagles had 207 yards of total offense—a season-high 157 on the ground—and still trailed 21-3 at halftime. That was just the beginning.
A Michael Vick pass intended for Brent Celek was tipped and the Saints’ Patrick Robinson was there to swoop it up and take it for a 99-yard touchdown interception return with 2:36 left in the first quarter. It was Eagles’ 18th turnover this season, and Vick’s ninth interception, though it wasn’t exactly his fault.
“It’s frustrating, I ask myself what can I do more, that’s just the way I feel as a competitor,” Vick said. “Being the quarterback of this football team, I take full responsibility. We lost so many offensive linemen and we’re trying to find ways to work through it. We’re trying to go out and play each and every game for one another, and it’s difficult at times. We’re going to keep our heads up high and just go get wins. When you don’t win, it’s going to be rough. I don’t think it’s too late. We’re 3-5 and we have to get better in all phases of the game. We have a find a way to figure it out.”
Midway into the third quarter, the Eagles showed some momentary signs of life. Vick found a wide-open DeSean Jackson for a 77-yard touchdown pass, a score made possible by a fumble caused and recovered by Brandon Graham at the Eagles’ 17. On the ensuing kickoff, New Orleans fumbled away the ball again, recovered by Brandon Hughes.
But the Eagles had to settle for an Alex Henery 37-yard field goal, after Vick was sacked for an 11-yard loss on a second-and-goal at the New Orleans eight to the Saints’ 19.
The Eagles held a players-only meeting to right the many wrongs that continue.
“This is very disgusting, because us as players, we know that’s unacceptable, we’re missing tackles, and I don’t want to say the same thing over and over, we’re so much better than this, way better than this,” Graham said. “I want to go out and make the playoffs for coach Reid, and do it for his son. I don’t want to see him lose his job. We’re all trying to win. We’re trying to break this losing streak.”
Things grew so comical that when the Eagles tried a gimmick play, it was called back. Riley Cooper was lying down in the end zone and looked as if he would score on a kickoff return, when Brandon Boykin threw a lateral across the field. The play, however, was flagged for a forward lateral, pressing the Eagles back to the shadow of their end zone at the Philadelphia five.
The Eagles had the ball five times in the red zone and came away with two field goals, lost a fumble, had a pass intercepted for a touchdown and turned the ball over on downs. Both the lost fumble and intercepted pass came inside the New Orleans’ 10.
Drew Brees finished completing 20 of 26 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. LeSean McCoy was a bright spot for the Eagles’ offense, rushing for a game-high 119 yards on 19 carries, including a 34-yard run.
That effort was wasted.
Like it appears the energy the Eagles’ fervent fanbase has invested in the Eagles. Apathy appears to have enveloped the fanbase, the team, everything surrounding the 2012 Eagles. The who-cares switch seems turned on.
Big Play DJ … WR DeSean Jackson caught a 77-yard touchdown, his longest since a 91 yarder on 12/12/10 at Dallas. Jackson now has six touchdowns that have covered 70-plus yards (four receptions, two punt returns). The only Eagle with more is Timmy Brown (9) … Jackson reached 100 receiving yards for the 15th time in his career (twice in two games against the Saints), tying Fred Barnett for fifth place in team history … Jackson also passed Barnett for eighth on the team’s all-time receiving yards list with 4,712 and tied Wilbert Montgomery for 12th on the team’s all-time receptions list with 266.
Shady Hits the Century Mark … RB LeSean McCoy recorded his 12th career 100-yard rushing performance (119 yards), tying Ricky Watters for the fifth-most in franchise history. In doing so, he now has 3,640 career yards, supplanting Tom Woodeshick for eighth on the team’s all-time list.
Forcing the Issue … The Eagles generated three forced fumbles on the night. DE Brandon Graham recorded his first full sack of the season, stripping the ball from Drew Brees and also recovering the fumble, which led to an Eagles score. DE Jason Babin also had a sack and forced fumble … RB Chris Polk forced a fumble on special teams, the first of his career.
Mike Check … QB Michael Vick became the first player in the NFL to exceed 20,000 passing yards and 5,000 rushing yards in his career … Vick (1,115) surpassed Sonny Jurgensen and Bobby Thomason and moved into seventh on the team’s all-time passing attempts list. He also passed Roman Gabriel and moved into sixth in team history with 671 completions … Vick has 580 rushing yards in seven starts against the Saints.
Offensive Quick Hits … The offense has scored points on their opening drive of the second half in seven straight games (three touchdowns, four field goals) … RB Bryce Brown’s 40-yard run was the longest of his career and the longest by an Eagle this season … The offense accounted for 447 total net yards, surpassing 400 for the fourth time in eight games … TE Brent Celek tied John Spagnola for 15th on the team’s all-time receptions list with 256. The only Eagles tight end with more catches is Pete Retzlaff (452).
Oh Henery … K Alex Henery has made 13 field goals in a row, which is tied for the sixth-longest streak in team history.
Birdseed … S David Sims made his first-career start, becoming the seventh Eagle to do so this season … T Todd Herremans made his 100th career start.