Eagles worst in the NFL? Better not argue

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Robert Griffin III made a laughingstock of the Eagles' defense.
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Robert Griffin III made a laughingstock of the Eagles' defense.
Posted: November 19, 2012

LANDOVER, Md. - The Eagles are seven points from being the only winless team in the NFL.

Zero-and-10.

There is a very good argument that, on this day, they are the worst team in the NFL.

It got stronger Sunday.

Now 3-7, having lost six in a row, the Eagles have one neighbor in the NFC: the Panthers and Rams.

After they visit next Monday night, Cam and family might be movin' on up.

The Panthers, like the similarly hapless Jaguars, Browns and Chiefs, appear to be progressing.

Not so the Birds.

"We didn't look better today," said coach Andy Reid, who extended his career-worst losing streak.

Michael Vick missed the loss with a concussion. He appeared unlikely to return any time soon. Vick will have heady company: Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy left the game after suffering a terrifying concussion with 1 minute, 45 seconds to play.

The Eagles trailed by 25 points at the time.

They would have needed four possessions - three touchdowns, two one-point PATs, a two-point conversion and a field goal just to tie the game. They had three other running backs. McCoy should have been holding his helmet on the sideline, not getting hit in it.

He had to be led from his locker to the shower.

Why was he in?

"Because we were trying to catch up and win the game," Reid replied.

Really?

"We were trying to catch up and win the game," Reid repeated.

Which, of course, is insane.

Reid has coached underachievers before, but he didn't coach like this in 2011.

When the Eagles stumbled to a 4-8 start last season, they continually grumbled that their play did not match their record.

When they stood at 3-5 this season, that sentiment remained.

That sentiment has dissolved.

"Three-and-seven: That's our record," guard Evan Mathis said. "It's who we are. It's ridiculous."

Actually, it's explicable.

Mathis is the only remaining starting lineman from the team's projected preseason starters. Tackle Todd Herremans and center Jason Kelce are out for the season, replaced by bewildered rookie Dennis Kelly and overmatched practice-squadder Dallas Reynolds. Tackle Demetress Bell and guard Danny Watkins played themselves onto the bench, replaced by unwatchable veteran tackle King Dunlap and, Sunday, by Jake Scott, whom the Eagles signed off his couch last week.

The line committed six penalties, two of which were declined. Rookie backup Nick Foles was sacked four times and clobbered about six other times. He finished with a 40.5 passer rating, which was not a bit misleading. He threw two interceptions, one a bad one, but tossed a couple of floaters that might have been intercepted had he not been playing against one of the league's worst pass defenses.

New kickoff returner Bryce Brown made no impression, and the special teams managed a penalty for 12 men on the field . . . coming out of a timeout.

This was the second straight week in which the kicking unit made a manpower mistake.

"At times," Reid said, "maybe we're trying too hard."

Which impedes the ability to count?

Really, the Eagles' 3-1 record after four games seemed like a mirage. Wins by a point over Cleveland and Baltimore, then by two over the Giants . . . future success was a hazy specter, wasn't it? Promising, perhaps, but shimmering in the distance, not quite real.

All of the wins were defense-driven.

Then, when the defense faltered late in consecutive weeks, Andy Reid fired coordinator Juan Castillo and replaced him with defensive backs coach Todd Bowles.

Castillo's defense allowed 20.8 points. Bowles' defense has allowed an average of 31.8 points.

It isn't Bowles, and it wasn't Castillo.

"I think we have to make plays. When we're in position, we have to make plays," said DeMeco Ryans, the middle linebacker for whom the Eagles traded in an effort to . . . um . . . make plays.

Are they making fewer under Bowles?

"We're not making enough," Ryans said.

That's indisputable.

Nnamdi Asomugha, the star cornerback Reid signed before last season in his dual role as head coach and final arbiter of acquisitions, was burned for a 49-yard touchdown in the first half.

The Eagles surrendered a 61-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss, who leaped over Kurt Coleman to make the catch at the 3, then ran through Brandon Boykin's tackle attempt.

Brent Celek dropped two passes. Like his second drop, his first bounced off him. Unlike his second drop, his first drop found a Redskin, and led to a Washington touchdown.

Celek left the game in the fourth. Clay Harbor stepped into his role . . . and dropped a fourth-down pass to end the Eagles' last drive.

Foles played badly, as should be expected of a third-round rookie in his first start. Veteran quarterback Trent Edwards looked on, goateed and bemused.

The contention that the Eagles are anything but awful has become a hollow refrain.

Celek, perhaps the team's most consistent realist, in reviewing his afternoon's follies and the three-win season, aptly distilled the team's mood:

"It makes me sick."

By that logic, he's only seven points from bedridden.

Email: hayesm@phillynews.com

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