The streak continued at the start of this season with one-point wins over Cleveland and Baltimore when the Eagles committed five and four turnovers, respectively, and stayed close enough to survive on late fourth-quarter touchdown drives. (The win over the Ravens wasn't really fool's gold because the team played well enough against a good team with the exception of the turnovers, although that's like saying the skiing was great aside from hitting all those trees.)
For the purpose of this exercise, let's just say it was foolish to come out of the Baltimore game and not address the turnovers and the team's increasing tendency to become one-dimensional on both sides of the ball. Instead, apparently, the Eagles, from the top down, were pretty pleased with themselves and what they accomplished and didn't change a thing.
They didn't change their quick-strike, pass-happy approach on offense despite being without their most reliable deep receiving threat, and despite having a center getting his first NFL start and despite having a backup to a backup at left tackle. They didn't change their coverages on defense, even when it became apparent that Kolb was going to get rid of the ball before their sack-oriented pressure schemes got to him, and that, unlike other quarterbacks, Kolb could identify which receivers were double-covered and which were not.
It is easy to shrug off one loss as simply being the product of a bad day. It happens. The 27-6 loss to Arizona was more than that, however. It was an indication that either the Eagles' coaching staff isn't very smart or that confidence has finally crossed the border and become hubris. Resolve and stubbornness are first cousins and there seems to be some inbreeding going on here.
Put it this way: When your fondest hope for the offensive line is that King Dunlap can get healthy, you've got offensive line problems that won't be well-served by 25 pass calls and five run calls in the first half. And put it this way: When you get picked apart by Kevin Kolb, your showy, swaggering defense is ignoring a few fundamental details. (One of which is that Larry Fitzgerald bears watching. Kolb threw the ball to Fitzgerald nine times. Fitzgerald caught it nine times. Just for the sake of variety, knock him down and get an interference call now and then.)
Andy Reid, as he always does, took the blame for not having the team ready to play. It was his standard script. Everybody has a piece of the pie and they all have to do a better job in the kitchen, but he took full responsibility for the preparation and for a game plan that didn't turn out very well. He has given the same speech 91 times after regular-season and playoff losses since 1999. You know what? I'm starting to believe him.
"We thought we had some opportunities down the field in the throwing game," Reid said Monday when asked about the pass-run ratio in the first half. "We went in thinking we would probably protect a little better than we did and be able to exploit some things we felt were our strengths and that we matched up best against, and it didn't happen."
Aside from the fact that Arizona was without five-time Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson, it's hard to understand what in the world he was talking about. Without Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles still didn't have a matchup advantage downfield. They had a rushing game advantage with LeSean McCoy. They had a quarterback who had been pummeled in the first two games. And there was no earthly reason to believe that patched together line would be able to protect him at all.
They believed, though, and drew up moving pockets and chip blocks from the backfield and various protection schemes, as if the mental genius it takes to devise them would somehow translate into the physical ability of the line to execute them.
So, it was business as usual, with Michael Vick getting smacked around again - some of it his fault, no question - and no need for running plays, screen passes, or the occasional quarterback draw just to keep the defense honest. None of that.
"When the [coach's tape] comes out and you get a chance to look at it, I think you'll see what I'm saying," Reid said of the protection schemes they dreamed up to turn their frogs into princes. "The protections that we used I thought were to the advantage of the offensive line, where they could really tee off. It didn't work."
We all know it didn't work. The question is why Reid didn't know it ahead of time, since that is kind of his job.
The list is longer, of course. They had to waste a timeout as play resumed for the second quarter because the Cardinals came out showing a blitz. On first and 10. Can you imagine that? Yeah, it would have taken Kreskin to see around that corner.
And then there is the whole matter of Vick himself and whether Reid has constructed a square-peg-round-hole dilemma that can never work. And why give McCoy all that money if you aren't going to also give him the ball. And on and on.
It's Reid's fault. He said so himself, even though he said it so many times before he has become like a woodpecker rattling against a tree and you cease to hear him. This time, maybe we should listen. This time, maybe we should consider it wasn't just the last six wins, but the last 140 wins that were the fool's gold.
Contact Bob Ford at email@example.com. Follow @bobfordsports on Twitter. Read his blog, "Post Patterns," at www.philly.com/postpatterns