The 2011 NFL regular season is only four weeks old and we are already resorting to clichés for this Sunday's game such as 'now or never' and 'do or die' for an Eagles team that has played woefully below its expectations in its last three games.
Last week's collapse against San Francisco was especially disturbing given Andy Reid’s past ability to have his team ready to play after a bad loss, which just so happened to be the 29-16 loss to the Giants the week before after blowing a 10-point lead in a 34-31 loss to Atlanta in Week 2. The last time the Eagles lost three games in-a-row was in 2007, when they ended the season 8-8 and out of the playoffs. They are clearly headed in the same direction unless something dramatic happens this Sunday in Buffalo. Even if they find a way to snap this losing streak, the Birds have a long way to go before working their back up the ladder as one of the elite teams in the league.
I will be the first to admit that I was one of the first in line to drink the cool-aid when the team went on an offseason spending-spree in an attempt to add the missing pieces for a Super Bowl run. The unfortunate reality is that all the high-priced talent in the world will not make all the underlying problems with this team go away.
The offense is still on solid footing despite the fact that the line has been basically been rebuilt from scratch. It needs to eliminate the mistakes and turnovers that have worked against it so far, but, as a whole, this unit has played well enough to be ranked fourth overall in the NFL and 10th in scoring.
The defense is a whole other story. The ‘Juan Castillo experiment’ has gone horribly wrong so far, as you have to really question the former offensive line coach’s ability to be a coordinator on this side of the ball. I have said it numerous times before and will say it again, this defense has not been the same since the death of former coordinator Jim Johnson and the departure via free agency of safety Brian Dawkins. Nobody can do anything about the tragic loss of Johnson, but last time I checked, Dawkins is still playing in the league.
What Reid failed to take into consideration when letting the future Hall of Fame safety walk away after the 2008 season is that attitude is often way more important than ability. Since Dawkins departure, nobody on this team has stepped up to supply the necessary intensity he provided on a weekly basis. This year’s squad, on paper, may be the most talented one assembled in recent memory, but right now they are also the softest one that I have ever witnessed in all my years of following the Birds.
Everyone loves watching Michael Vick run around and make big plays, but if this team is going to have any chance to turn things around, it is going to have to learn how to keep punching a team in the mouth once it has them down.
Below is a link to my complete preview and prediction forSunday’s game as originally posted on Cappers Picks.
Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills