When the schedule makers anointed the Eagles as the only team in the NFL to have three straight road games during the 2019 season, we all knew that this part of their schedule could be a treacherous one.
Two games in and it has been nothing short of a house of horrors.
The easiest (and best) explanation of this is that the team is dressed up in Halloween costume as a lifeless, low on talent football team, playing out the string on the way to double-digit losses and the hope of a high draft pick.
But if it were that simple, all it would take for the Birds to return to winning would be to remove the costume and show their true colors as a possible Super Bowl contender.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Games are won and lost in the trenches, and in that respect, both the Eagles offensive and defensive lines have been abysmal and downright scary over the last two games.
While the offensive line gave up three sacks (not great but not awful either), Carson Wentz seemed to be hurried and forced from the pocket every time he dropped back to pass. Conversely, while the Eagles defense registered three sacks, Cowboys quarterback Zak Prescott had all kinds of time to throw, and was rarely hurried or knocked down, which explains why the Cowboys were able to drive up and down the field at will.
Perhaps all the Eagles offense will need will be the return of someone to stretch the field a la DeSean Jackson. But if “D-Jax” will be out for an extended period of time, perhaps the trade deadline will be a place to find a suitable fill in.
But the Eagles defense is where most of the issues lie. Aside from the line’s struggles, the secondary has not impressed, and the return of Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby may not do enough to turn the tide.
Linebacker is another area that seems deficient. The Eagles cut Zach Brown because he was giving the Vikings bulletin board material, but didn’t head coach Doug Pederson do the exact same thing when he stated that the Eagles would win last Sunday against the Cowboys?
Zach Brown was not the second coming of Seth Joyner or Jeremiah Trotter, but when Nathan Gerry was getting pushed out of his gap assignments on a regular basis last Sunday, the tune that the “Zach Brown band” was playing sounded quite melodious in comparison.
The Birds now head to Buffalo, where the outcome might play a pivotal role in deciding the course of their season.
Should they come out victorious, 4-4 at the halfway point, while not anything to write home about, would mean that there is still hope, and perhaps a trade to improve the team before Tuesday’s trade deadline (much like they did last year, acquiring Golden Tate from the Detroit Lions).
But a loss could mean that Howie Roseman, much like the Phillies brass at the trade deadline this past summer, decide that it’s not worth giving up draft picks for a team that’s just mediocre.
A record of 3-5 and perhaps the fans turn their attention to the winter sports teams (Flyers and especially the Sixers) while we’re still in the Fall.
Last year, the Birds stood at 4-6 before turning their season around. And while it became a memorable one with a trip to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, a repeat of a bad start is not a good trend, being that they’ve already made it a bad habit of starting that way in games.
The Bills, while not a powerhouse, are 5-1 and actually have the 2nd best record in the AFC (second only to the 7-0 Patriots). And while their offense still struggles with 2nd year QB Josh Allen, their defense is top notch under former Eagles defensive coordinator and current head coach Sean McDermott.
I have to think that the Birds win, if for nothing else than the fact that I’ll be in the stands and don’t want to venture the thought of going to Western NY to see a loss. Either way, expect the “Bills Mafia” (the name given to hardcore Bills fans) to be in full force, and smashing tables pregame (which is their specialty). Win or lose, they still booze in Orchard Park.
Birds win 16-9.
Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all games on Sunday and in EST unless noted otherwise):
EAGLES at Bills 1:00 PM FOX
Panthers at 49ers 4:05 PM FOX
Raiders at Texans 4:25 PM CBS
Packers at Chiefs 8:20 PM NBC