Eagles losing streak seems to be revealing an unwanted atmosphere

Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints (Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints (Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) /

Two statements that are seemingly contradictory to one another can both be accurate. It’s true that, based on record alone, the Philadelphia Eagles are the NFL’s best team. It’s also true that, after another loss, their second in as many weeks (and one that came versus a team with nine losses), it most certainly doesn’t feel like it.

Here’s another contradiction. Damn Marcus Lattimore is good, but with all due respect, we’re sick of him. Yeah, he’s good, but he gets on our nerves. Remember, the same guy that put the Birds away in Week 17 pick-six is the same guy that picked off Nick Foles’ final pass in the midnight green.

Good gracious! Marshon Lattimore sinks the Eagles’ ship again, and no one is happy.

It’s been almost four years since it happened. It feels like it was yesterday. We were in the Big Easy versus these same Saints and watching a playoff game. Nick looked to Alshon Jeffery shortly before the two-minute warning. The ball slides through Number 17’s hands. Lattimore is the beneficiary.

The Saints moved on to the NFC Championship Game. Philly’s hope of successfully completing a repeat ended in a flash and was punctuated by Alshon lying face down on the turf.

The stakes weren’t as high during the Eagles’ most recent meeting with New Orleans, but they were high enough. Philly was playing for an opportunity to clinch a divisional title, the top seed in the NFC (and a first-round bye), and for the opportunity to improve the standing of that first-round draft choice they own by way of an offseason trade made with the Saints.

Even if you missed the game, there isn’t a Birds fan in the Delaware Valley or anywhere else on Planet Earth that doesn’t know what happened. Trailing by three points and with 5:34 remaining in the fourth quarter, Philly had an opportunity to mount a last-minute drive to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

On second-and-eight, all hope ended. The drama and hope for some late-game heroics died with Gardner Minshew throwing the aforementioned pick-six to Lattimore. The Saints took a 20-10 lead, and even though there were more than five minutes remaining in the game, it was obvious that all hope for winning in Week 17 had been lost.

Since the curtain has drawn, there’s a dark cloud of sorts hanging over the franchise. The momentum gained by throttling the Tennessee Titans and New York Giants is gone. The loss on Christmas Eve versus the Dallas Cowboys hurt. The loss to the Saints arguably stings more heavily. It was deflating.

In a flash, we’ve gone from discussing Super Bowl wins to asking questions about whether or not this team can beat the Giants in the regular-season finale. It feels like they’re backing into the postseason rather than charging ahead with momentum. Then, there are the off-field issues… if you want to call them that.

By now, you’ve heard everyone’s opinion. There are many. Team captain Darius Slay made some post-game comments about third-and-thirty. Some thought he threw teammate Josiah Scott under the bus. Following the most recent loss versus New Orleans, there are theories that A.J. Brown did the same thing to Gardner Minshew.

Flat performances are one thing. Teammates seemingly taking issue with each other publicly is something else entirely. Both scenarios are bad looks. Should we be concerned? Are we overreacting? Regardless of where you stand on all of that, here’s where we all can agree.

No one likes how they’re feeling with the regular-season finale on the horizon. This team is better than they’ve been playing, and there’s a bit of a dark cloud hanging over the franchise.

So, should we be worried about the vibe surrounding the Eagles or not?

Should we be concerned about what we’re seeing? It most certainly isn’t time to panic, but there are a lot of questions that need answering. We mentioned earlier that conflicting theories can both be accurate. The Birds have proven that constantly this season.

Jordan Mailata is one of the game’s best young left tackles, but this also feels like an off-year sometimes. Maybe he never truly recovered from that shoulder injury?

Jalen Hurts bailed him out on some missed blocks because Jalen is uber-talented and extremely athletic. Gardner Minshew couldn’t do that.

We could also bring up the coaching staff. We’ve complimented them, but after watching them fumble through a 20-10 loss versus what was supposed to be an inferior New Orleans Saints team, it’s easy to question the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive and defensive readiness as we near the postseason.

Is Nick Sirianni one of the NFL’s best coaches? Are Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon head coaches in waiting, or have they been bailed out by Jalen Hurts, Howie Roseman’s moves, and a phenomenal roster?

The Eagles lost in Week 17 for several reasons, but here are a few of the most obvious:

  • Rather than build a game plan around Gardner Minshew’s strengths, they tried to make him play like Jalen Hurts.
  • Play-calling was horrific. Again, where is the running game?
  • In-game adjustments aren’t being made quickly enough.
  • In short, this team didn’t recognize the moment and take advantage of a huge opportunity.

Then, there’s James Bradberry and Darius Slay are arguably the NFL’s best cornerback tandem, but lately, something seems off. Maybe they’re bored? Maybe they’re frustrated?

It isn’t like Slay to throw teammates “under the bus” right? We haven’t seen him do so until recently. Again, refer to those theories that he did Josiah Scott a disservice with some post-game comments if you’re confused about what we mean. We aren’t going to take the time to revisit that debate here.

Perhaps the answers about what’s going on with Slay and Bradberry can be settled simply by mentioning that there’s a possibility zone coverage doesn’t play to their strengths. Sure, they’re talented enough to adjust, but you have to admit that something looks wrong and both haven’t been themselves.

They don’t look happy. No one on this team looks happy, but two consecutive losses can’t result in the loss of this season or the fracturing of this team’s season.

The finger-pointing has to stop. The negative overtones and undertones have to stop. With one win, the Philadelphia Eagles are the owners of a 14-win season. That would be a franchise record. Culture matters and the Birds need to flip the switch and remember what their culture was.

They’re better than what we’ve been seeing. We’re hopeful for a bounceback win on Sunday in Week 18.

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