Two things crashed down in Dallas Sunday night.
The first was the illusion that this Eagles team is a contender. The second was any grace period left from Super Bowl LII.
Let’s face it, many of us have soft-pedaled this franchise’s shortcomings for a while, still blinded by the brilliant memory of confetti raining onto Broad Street 18 months ago. The Eagles overcame such odds to win that first-ever Super Bowl, then put on a late-season push to the playoffs last year and… well, why couldn’t they do it again?
The reasons became apparent in Sunday’s 37-10 massacre by the Cowboys. And the Era of Good Feelings between fans and franchise has likely come to an end.
The causes of this nationally televised embarrassment are too many to cover in-depth here. So I’ll quickly list Nelson Agholor’s alligator arms, the secondary’s lazy tackling, Fletcher Cox’s “Invisible Man” act, the overall uselessness of the wide receiver corps and the confused ineptitude of an offensive line that was once regarded as the NFL’s best.
Carson Wentz had a poor night — fumbling, throwing a pick and sailing too many passes. Wentz has been beleaguered by opponents charging at him and local critics picking at minor flaws. But, yeah, last night goes down as a bad one for the franchise QB.
The problems, however, go above any one player.
Take your choice: Rip Jim Schwartz’s defense, which gave up two TDs in the first eight plays Sunday. Or rip the offense, which fumbled twice in its first seven plays. Both are guilty.
And both suggest the real problem starts with head coach Doug Pederson. These disastrous starts to games occur on a weekly basis. They stem back to last year — really back to when offensive coordinator Frank Reich left for Indianapolis.
Pederson is at sea in trying to improve things. Opting to take the ball first Sunday night obviously did nothing to help.
And while Pederson searches for an answer to first-quarter woes, here’s hoping he also relocates “Big Balls Doug,” the gutsy and creative offensive mind that used to win games through sheer audacity.
Yes, the receivers have let him down, but there’s no excuse for turtling into a predictable run-first, run-second, run-on-third-and-four offense, especially when you trail by double digits. Wentz threw just eight passes the entire first half.
In his postgame newser, Pederson insisted his team “had a great week of preparation” before being led to slaughter. No one believes that, of course. Early in the week, the coach fired linebacker Zach Brown. Later, there were two episodes of players anonymously sniping to the press. The culture appears cracked.
Right tackle Lane Johnson — after his worst game in years — told NBC’s John Clark the team needs “a call-out session” to deal with “little stuff that slides during the week like being late to practice or late to meetings. Stuff we’ll start to be held accountable for. Maybe that will creep into the game.”
Last season, you recall, the Eagles fell to 4-6 after a 48-7 pasting in New Orleans. They rallied to finish 9-7 and even won a playoff game thanks to Cody Parkey’s botched field goal in Chicago.
I’d like to think that could happen again. But when they put out a dismal effort against their biggest rival, when they look listless in preparation, disinterested during the game and, yes, even seem to surrender during a loss, what reason do fans have to believe these Eagles have another miracle left?
The Super Bowl Era appears to be over. It was nice while it lasted.