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Eagles look pathetic in loss to Patriots


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#1 herbicide

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 06:57 AM

Bowen

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Posted: Mon, Nov. 28, 2011, 3:01 AM


Eagles look pathetic in loss to Patriots


BY LES BOWEN
bowenl@phillynews.com

WELL, THE rest of the season ought to be really interesting.

Is there anything the 4-7 Eagles (1-5 at home!) can do from here on out that will bank the fires of the "Fire Andy!" sentiment that roiled Lincoln Financial Field yesterday during a 38-20 loss to New England?

Eagles management is famous for being proud of not listening to the fans, but doesn't there come a point where your business starts to suffer? Yesterday took on the feel of a long-time-coming tipping point, right about the time Andy Reid's answer to fourth-and-1 from the Pats' 2 was a Vince Young rollout that fooled nobody, ending in a sort of fadeaway jumper to well-covered Brent Celek in the corner of the end zone that never had a prayer, with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

The score was 31-13 by then, and most of the ridiculous penalties and misplays that decided the outcome had already occurred, but if you score there, at least maybe you can make it close, pretend to be in the Patriots' league, instead of looking like you belong in the Patriot League. Now? After the Eagles' eighth loss in their last nine home games, including the playoffs, surely we are done with the pretending.

That failed fourth-and-1 was the moment when the crowd first fired up the chant, which reappeared sporadically until there was no longer much of a crowd in the seats. The stands emptied well before the final gun.

"I don't really hear much down there [on the field]," Reid said afterward, when asked about the chant. "I didn't hear it. The way we played, I can understand."

The Pats didn't just beat the Eagles, after spotting the home team a 10-0, first-quarter lead, they toyed with Reid and his offensive line coach-turned-defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo. Any chance the defenseless Birds might have had to try to win a shootout was extinguished by an erratic Young, a butterfingered DeSean Jackson, who dropped two sure touchdown passes before being benched in the fourth quarter, and the decision of Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg that they really didn't need to put the ball in the hands of LeSean McCoy all that much, with injured Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin missing from the offense and Jackson missing in action.

One person who might have expected more than 10 carries (for 31 yards) from McCoy was defensive line coach Jim Washburn. Mornhinweg and Washburn exchanged words, Comcast SportsNet first reported and a source close to the situation subsequently confirmed to the Daily News. The source witnessed the two coaches arguing as they headed toward the field for the second half, but the genesis of their dispute might have been the pass-happy second quarter, which saw Washburn's line sent onto the field again and again with scant rest or chance to adjust.

Neither Mornhinweg nor Washburn was available for comment afterward.

"We're getting put in positions to make plays, but we're not doing it," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said, when asked about the anti-Reid chanting. "Whether it's missed tackles, dropped passes, missed assignments, penalties, I mean, we're killing ourselves . . . At some point we have to put it on ourselves to not do it. It's as simple as that. When you do something that's not acceptable, you don't do it again. We continue to make the same mistakes."

Where were the desperate, second- and third-effort Eagles of the previous week, who beat the Giants?

"I thought we started off with that team. Then, for whatever reason, after those first couple series, couple drives, we went back to the team that got us the seven losses . . . That team, against the Giants, against the Cowboys, we need that team to show up every week," Jenkins said.

No one in the locker room had anything but support for Reid, who brought these players in and continues to decline to single any of them out for poor performance. The closest Reid got to anything like that yesterday was when he was asked why Jackson didn't appear on the Eagles' final drive, in which Young drove the team 90 yards in 16 plays for a touchdown that didn't change anything but some of the stats; Young can say he threw for 400 yards, if anyone cares.

"He has to do a better job . . . I just wanted to give the other guys an opportunity," Reid said after Jackson was held without a catch in the second half. For the day, he was targeted 10 times, caught four balls for 73 yards. "I just wanted to give the other guys a chance to make a play."

Jackson seemed to take his eyes off the ball and look to see if he was going to be hit when he dropped an easy touchdown pass, and the Eagles settled for a 22-yard field goal that made it 21-13 with 2 minutes, 11 seconds left in the first half. Jackson never caught another pass.

"Yeah, things happen sometimes. As a player, I am upset about it. It wasn't one of my best games," said Jackson, who was deactivated for the Arizona loss 2 weeks earlier after missing a meeting, then might have been the catalyst for last week's victory. "I know I'm a better receiver, there are no excuses behind that, but I just didn't have my best game today. It's frustrating, but I have to figure it out."

McCoy, who entered the day as the NFL's leading rusher, seemed to tiptoe a tightrope afterward, supporting Reid and not wanting to say anything divisive, but clearly frustrated he wasn't given a bigger say in the outcome.

"It's heartbreaking, man, because, I thought we had a chance to really beat 'em," McCoy said. He marveled over how quickly the Birds went from being ahead to being routed; the Patriots scored all their points in a 37:52 span that started with 1:27 left in the first quarter and ended with 8:35 left in the game. That's 38 points in 37:52.

"I thought I'd touch the ball a little bit more" because the Pats' defense isn't that great against the run, McCoy said. "But I don't ever judge the calls. We made some plays downfield early; maybe that was the reason why. I guess we got down fast. I thought there was some room, we could have run the ball, but things happened. I don't make judgments about the call."

McCoy said he and Jackson discussed the benching during the game.

"It's not really my call. I'm not sure the reason why," McCoy said. "Did we need him? Yeah. We need DeSean, LeSean, we need everybody, from the linemen to the backup backup, we need everybody. We need the bigger players to step up even more."

Nobody was willing to pull the curtain on the season, with the playoffs still a faint possibility. There was much talk of the need to not dwell on the loss, with a game Thursday at Seattle. There was no word on whether Vick might be able to play by then; he was not around the locker room during the time reporters were there.

Castillo also was unavailable for comment afterward. His defense seemed to have gotten a huge boost when corner Nnamdi Asomugha decided during warmups he could play with the knee hyperextension he suffered in practice Thursday. But as Reid noted afterward, Asomugha was available only on a limited basis, pretty much in the dime package. Brandon Hughes played extensively for the first time and was picked on mercilessly by Tom Brady (24-for-34, 361 yards, three touchdowns, 134.6 passer rating), who adroitly sidestepped pressure. The Eagles' coverages looked confused, as is so often the case. Free safety Nate Allen seemed completely lost, which is not what you're looking for in the 11th game of the season.

"We just weren't able to make some plays that we needed to," Allen said. "They had a lot of great weapons and they executed better . . . It is what it is. Whatever happened happened out there. It's a short week this week, so we're just going to bounce back and keep going."

Allen said the Eagles thought they had a good plan coming in for dealing with the Pats' no-huddle look, "but certain things happen in the heat of battle. It is what it is."

For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.

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http://twitter.com/LesBowen