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What’s Wrong With The Eagles? Plenty


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The Eagles, proclaimed the best team in the NFC at the beginning of the season, are struggling badly on the field. They are 4-3 and certainly still in the hunt, but their play has been very uneven on both sides of the ball. One week they totally bottled up San Diego RB LaDainian Tomlinson and the next week they allow Denver RBs Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell to both run for 100+ yards. They have allowed 31 points or more in three of their last four games. They haven't allowed 31 points or more in three games in a season (playoffs included) since 1999, HC Andy Reid's 1st year as coach after the disastrous Ray Rhodes regime (remember Mike Mamula?).

Lack of talent on defense shouldn't be the problem but the players simply aren't performing. One reason could be bitterness under the surface by players regarding money issues. This team is $15 million under the cap, a bad number when you're a Super Bowl contender. They badly mishandled the DT Corey Simon situation and watched him go to Indianapolis where he has helped the defense mature into one of the league's best. RB Brian Westbrook was forced to sign the $1.43 million tender because the team wouldn't lock him up. WR Terrell Owens was out of line with his demands but there is money on hand to take care of core players, which Simon and Westbrook were/are.

The players have been to 4-straight NFC Championships and lost a Super Bowl by 3 points. They have proven their worth but don't feel like they have been fairly compensated. A few years back, they let MLB Jeremiah Trotter, a team leader, go in free agency. He returned last season when the team couldn't stop the run. He helped fix that problem and was resigned in the offseason. Even his presence hasn't helped as they have been gouged for 622 yards on the ground in their 3 losses. Despite having 3 Pro Bowlers in the secondary, they continue to give up big plays.

The offense is throwing 70% of the time with mixed results. By eschewing the run, they are forcing an obviously injured QB Donovan McNabb to win games with his arm with no running game to keep defenses off balance. He isn't scrambling this season, further evidence of his injury. That takes away from his playmaking ability and forces him to stay in the pocket, which doesn't play to his strengths.

Philadelphia has been looked upon as a model franchise in the free agency era. They haven't made a lot of bad investments (maybe Jevon Kearse) and have locked up a lot of their players. However, they have let some players go that were contributors to the team, leaving the remaining players wondering what their future with the team might be. It will be up to Reid and team president Joe Banner to convince the players that they value their contributions and those players that perform will be rewarded. It's a situation that needs to be rectified for this team to reach their goal of Super Bowl Champion.

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