On week 7, on Sunday Night Football, the Philadelphia Eagles were destroyed by the Dallas Cowboys, 37-10. It was an illuminating loss, shining a light on some serious issues the team faces. Let’s take a closer look at three lessons the Eagles learned from that embarrassing defeat to the Cowboys.
The Eagles have to play better in the first quarter
The Eagles have looked terrible in the first quarter of games all season, putting immense pressure on both their offense and defense to overcome early deficits. Danny Heifetz of The Ringer summarized their paltry first-quarter performances thus far:
“Their season began by hosting Washington as 10.5-point favorites, but Philly fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter and 20-7 at halftime before coming back for the win. In Week 2, the Eagles fell behind Atlanta 10-6 at halftime and lost 24-20. That is still Atlanta’s only win of the year. In Week 3, the Eagles fell behind the Lions 20-10 at halftime and lost 27-24.
Last week, the Eagles fell behind the Vikings 24-3 midway through the second quarter before succumbing 38-20.”
The Dallas game was no different. Within their first seven plays, the Eagles fumbled twice. Nearly seven minutes into the Dallas game, the Eagles were down 14-0.
With their lack of urgency in each game’s opening minutes, the Eagles are setting themselves up for failure. If they want any hope of turning their season around, they need to start games better.
They can’t take any weeks off
The Dallas loss puts the Eagles at 3-4. In a crowded NFC playoff picture, that means the Eagles have to string some wins together quickly to get back in the driver’s seat for even a wild card spot. A win in Buffalo really helped to right the ship.
However, their schedule takes a brutal turn. Their next three opponents include:
- The Chicago Bears, in a rematch from last season’s wild-card playoff matchup
- The New England Patriots, who are…well, they’re the New England Patriots
- The always competitive Seattle Seahawks.
From there, it gets much easier. The Eagles close out the season with five games against the Miami Dolphins, the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, the Giants again, and finally a chance to end the season with a revenge win over the Cowboys. But if they slip up over the next few weeks, the easier part of their schedule may not matter.
The Dallas game showed the Eagles they aren’t allowed to come out and have any more clunkers. Each game matters.
They need to get their locker room in order
It’s easy to look at the stat sheet and talk about the Eagles’ defensive struggles or how their offense has failed to live up to their offseason expectations. But the fallout of the Cowboys game showed some systemic issues within the locker room the team needs to address ASAP.
First, tackle Lane Johnson questioned the discipline of his teammates. Whether Johnson is right or wrong, his teammates didn’t take too kindly for it. Now the Eagles have two problems: the discipline issues Johnson cited, and the team’s general displeasure with being called out for it in public.
Then the team cut defensive back Orlando Scandrick. Scandrick took to ESPN to rip into the organization. It’s easy to try to siphon blame onto one player. The problem is it’s the second week the Eagles have done that. Linebacker Zach Brown took the hit after the team lost the week before in Minnesota.
Whether it’s an issue of discipline or discord, something clearly is broken in the Philly locker room. Doug Pederson needs to fix it if the team wants to contend.