The Philadelphia Eagles are the eighth team we've stuck a fork in this season. They are easily the most disappointing.
There is a revisionist view that perhaps the Eagles aren't really that talented. That's ridiculous. The skill position talent is as good as any in the league. The defensive line is deep and had two pass rushers coming off monster seasons. The starting cornerbacks should be strong. This is a team that had continuity and talent. Five of 14 NFL.com analysts had them making the NFC title game. (Whoops.)
The Eagles are lucky to even have three wins. They have been outscored by 65 points this year. They are 29th in points scored. The loss against Dallas was the nail in the coffin for this iteration of the Eagles, but the 2012 Eagles didn't resemble a playoff-caliber team even before its five-game losing streak.
What went wrong
It all started with All Pro left tackle Jason Peters' achilles tear. The player Philly signed to replace him -- Demetress Bell -- has been a disaster. Once center Jason Kelce was lost for the year, the offensive line fell apart. Whether it's Michael Vick or the line, this group doesn't communicate well. Far too many unblocked defenders got on Vick all year. Only one starter remains on Philly's line. It's a miracle Vick wasn't hurt before Week 10.
Vick's turnover problems have been well documented. Only two teams have turned it over more; that's how Philadelphia is eighth in yards gained and 29th in points scored. The defense is similarly inefficient: 12th in yards allowed, 22nd in points allowed. This is the ultimate team that is less than the sum of its parts. It's a better fantasy team than in reality.
With the offensive line struggling, Vick struggled to find time for Philly's patented shot plays. When he did find time, too often he made bad decisions or misfired. (Think the Pittsburgh game. He's not a reliable thrower. His physical skills no longer make up for his erratic play.) This team had chances to win games.
Firing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo at midseason has gone more poorly than we could have imagined. The defense's descent has intensified. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was hyped all offseason and struggled. Same with rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Nnamdi Asomugha has just looked like a guy. The safeties are worse. The tackling effort isn't there. Trent Cole and Jason Babin have combined for six sacks.
What went right
We'd argue that linebacker DeMeco Ryans has come as advertised. He's not a game-changer, but he solidified Philly's middle linebacker spot. The defensive line really is deep. First round pick Fletcher Cox looks like a keeper. Even Brandon Graham has shown flashes.
On offense, DeSean Jackson has quietly enjoyed a terrific season. He's not only avoiding drops; he's making a lot of difficult grabs. LeSean McCoy remains one of the best backs in football although his production in the passing game has dipped a ton. That's on the coaches.
What still matters
Eagles beat writers are talking like Andy Reid has already been fired. While that's the most likely outcome, we've seen this movie too many times before to assume he's 100% done. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles holds the key to Reid's future. If Reid can make Foles look like a true franchise quarterback and win enough games down the stretch, we wouldn't be that shocked if the Eagles kept Reid around to shepherd in the Foles era. Strong stretch runs have saved Reid before.
What changes are coming
We give Reid a better chance of returning next season than Vick. It just didn't work and he's not going to take a pay cut to stay. Nnamdi Asomugha could also be cut for relatively little financial pain. (He's due $4 million guaranteed.) Any high-paid player over 30 years old (Jason Babin?) will be looked at closely.
Change is coming to Philadelphia. Ultimately, we haven't seen anything from this team to make us think they can save Reid. Or themselves. This isn't going to be a fun seven weeks.