The Philadelphia Eagles entered week 15 in first place for the most turnovers in the league, and they stayed the course Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals in front of a home crowd attendance of 69,114 die-hard fans.
It took just two plays of the opening drive to set the tone of the game. Quarterback Nick Foles completed a pass to receiver Jeremy Maclin who took it six yards before being hit from behind by Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Maclin lost the football and the Bengals recovered on the Eagles 44-yard line. Five plays and 3:57 later the Bengals were up 7-0 after RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis punched through for a 1-yard touchdown run.
In all, the Eagles added five turnovers on TNF. A blocked punt on Philadelphia’s ensuing drive led to a Bengals field goal.
The third quarter was a disaster for the Eagles offense as they turned the ball over three times. Foles under threw a pass intended for Jeremy Maclin that led to an interception, add seven points. Next possession Foles was credited with a fumble on a botched handoff to running back Bryce Brown and recovered by the Bengals who took it 25-yards for another touchdown. On the very first play of the next drive, Foles hit (TE) Clay Harbor on a 16-yard pass before Harbor joined the fumbling festivities.
Each of those turnovers resulted in a total of 24 points.
With five turnovers Philadelphia literally gave this game away. The Eagles had just 12 possessions on Thursday and they coughed the ball up on 42 percent of them. Now they are sitting with a 4-10 season which is their worst since the 2005 season and have yet to defeat a winning team. You could cut the tension between team owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman with a butter knife. There was a point last night where the camera crew scanned the owners box and you could see Roseman trying to make conversation with Lurie, he flat out ignored Roseman…or so it appeared.
However, not everything was a disaster. The defense showed signs of improvement in coverage, although the secondary failed to force a turnover, but they limited the big plays and held the Bengals to just one receiving touchdown.
But it was the front four on defense who truly put on a spectacle.
Since the firing of former defensive line coach Jim Washburn and release of Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin, the D-line has picked up consistency in getting to the quarterback and forced multiple fumbles against the Bengals. You could see it on Andy Dalton’s face on the field and you could see it on the sideline — Dalton was rattled.
Brandon Graham (DE) amassed 2.5 sacks but those numbers are a bit deceiving. Graham was in the backfield a lot during last nights loss. Rookie (DT) Fletcher Cox registered 1.5 sacks on back-to-back plays. And Trent Cole (DE) and Cullen Jenkins (DT) each registered a sack on Dalton. So after much speculation by Eagles Nation regarding the impact the wide-9 technique had here in Philadelphia it’s becoming clear that departing with Washburn is in the best interest of the Eagles organization.
So with two games remaining in the regular season, what do Eagles fans have to look forward to? They can start with those two remaining games and hope to play spoiler to division rivals. Philadelphia will host the 7-6 Washington Redskins next week followed up by division leader New York Giants who are 8-5. From there it’s all about evaluating the players currently on the roster in an attempt to determine if they truly can help this franchise getting back to their winning ways.
And of course there is the Andy Reid saga that will continue right up until the point he is either released from the organization after 14 years, or, Jeffrey Lurie accepts him back for a fifteenth.