By Peter Gleason
The 6-9 Eagles’ season is essentially over, with a meaningless game against the Giants next Sunday the capper on this awful season.
And you should be proud of the fact that the Birds do lead the league in one auspicious category:
There is no official count for dropped passes, but Pro Football Focus had the Eagles down for eight against Washington, the most notable of which was by rookie receiver Nelson Agholor in the end zone.
This is not a new problem. PFF has this team’s skill players down for a total of 45 drops for the season, or three per game—which may even be a conservative count.
Penalties often tend to get lost in the shuffle compared to some of these more damaging plays, but they’re right up there. The Eagles had eight total for 45 yards in the loss to Washington, several of which erased gains or put the offense in unmanageable down-and-distance situations. The pre-snap variety has been the most consistent, as the club is tied for the fifth-most pre-snap penalties with 43, according to NFLPenalties.com.
“I wish I had the answer to that, then we would stop it,” coach Chip Kelly said of the miscues. “Obviously, we’re not doing a good enough job coaching them.”
There’s one more specific area of self-inflicted wounds that hurt the Eagles this season, and that is special teams, specifically as it relates to the kicking game. How many outcomes were decided because of a missed field goal or extra point? How many games were affected by a blocked punt?
There was a 23-20 Week 4 loss to Washington in which there was a missed 30-yard field goal and a missed extra point that would’ve been the difference. There was a 20-19 defeat at the hands of the Miami Dolphins that featured a missed 37-yarder and a blocked punt. The Eagles had a chance to take a late fourth-quarter lead over the Atlanta Falcons on opening night, but the 44-yard field goal went wide.
The list goes on. Call it the random bounce of the ball, call it luck, but however you want to look at it, the Eagles haven’t caught many breaks.
Of course, that is not necessarily to suggest the team deserved those breaks, either. The Eagles were fundamentally flawed from the beginning. The quarterback needed a year to learn the system. The offense lacked a vertical receiving threat on the outside. The offensive line was a patchwork crew anchored by an aging left tackle. The defense was a complete and utter mess.
Yet despite all of their flaws, the Eagles had every opportunity to enjoy a winning season and reach the playoffs. They have nobody to blame but themselves, because most of the mistakes that cost them games were self-inflicted.