After seeing his team turn the ball over 5 times Thursday Night and 72 times since the start of the 2011 season, Andy Reid took what likely will be his penultimate walk off the field at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night.
That metal on metal crashing sound heard around the Delaware Valley Thursday night was the final nail being driven into the coffin of the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia.
Any doubt that Reid would be relieved of his duties at season’s end were swept away by the current of Philadelphia’s second half collapse against the Bengals in the latest mistake riddled 34-13 defeat.
“Five turnovers and 31 points, that really says it all,” Reid said following Thursday night’s debacle. “I thought the effort was there and guys played hard, but you just can’t have those turnovers. That’s a problem.”
The Eagles offense experienced an avalanche of turnovers in the second half, five in total which led to 17 Bengals points as a result. At one point at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth, the Eagles committed three turnovers on three consecutive plays.
First, Nick Foles threw his first interception in 169 passes, ending the league’s longest interception-less streak with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter when Leon Hall picked off a pass intended for Jeremy Maclin.
Dalton and the Bengals offense certainly benefited from the Eagles season high five turnovers and the Eagles now lead the NFL with 72 turnovers since the start of the 2011 season averaging 2.4 per game. The Bengals second-year quarterback finished 13-27 for 127 yards and a touchdown while being sacked five times.
Eight plays after Foles’ interception, Dalton found Clark Harris for an 11 yard touchdown which gave the Bengals a 17-13 lead.
Two plays later, Bryce Brown lost his fourth fumble in as many starts, recovered by Wallas Gillberry who streaked 25 yards for a touchdown.
Eventually, Brown’s issues fumbling have to weigh heavier in your evaluation of him as a running back than whatever other potential he’s shown. He simply must do a better job protecting the football or he won’t last in this league.
“Looking at his background of not playing much in the past few years,” Reid said of Brown. “I think it is important that he plays. I know his personality and he wants to make sure he does the right things. That’s the way he is. He’s not trying to fumble the ball, that’s for sure. He has to get better at that.”
On the Eagles ensuing possession Clay Harbor fumbled.
Then, later, not to be outdone, the Eagles special teams got in the act of coughing up the ball when Cedric Thornton muffed a Josh Brown kickoff.
“That was designed for them to kick it at me,” Thornton said. “They caught me off guard and I should have been more focused. I should have made a fair catch and I didn’t. That’s my fault.”
Much like this dreadful season when the Eagles started 3-1, this game actually starting quick for the Birds who led at halftime 13-10, which represents the first halftime lead since October 14th against the Lions.
They didn’t score again.
“You can’t keep turning the ball over and putting the defense inside the 30 [yard line]” Maclin said. “This one’s on the offense tonight. It’s on the offense and special teams.”
Foles didn’t set the world on fire, by any stretch of the imagination, finishing 16-33 for 182 yards with one touchdown and one interception, good for a pedestrian 62.9 quarterback rating.
“Each game, you learn more and more throughout it,” Foles said. “I mean I learned a lot throughout this game. It doesn’t feel good right now and it won’t feel good for, like I said before, I have a 24 hours rule when dealing with a game, but I’m going to learn a lot from it. I’m going to use this game as moving forward. And I mean, that’s all you can do.”
As can be expected with third round rookie quarterbacks, there are going to be growing pains along the way as you look for him to reach his full potential. However, the Eagles game plan, specifically in the red zone did him no favors. During a second quarter stretch, the Eagles ran three straight passing plays from inside the three yard line and failed to score.
“Different things happen [in the red zone],” Foles explained. “Different plays have different things built in, so based on what we’re seeing, trying to get us in the best look. But have to capitalize. We have to execute. I have to execute down there and we have to get the ball in the end zone.”
The Eagles defense actually played what amounts to it’s stoutest game of the season, holding the Bengals to 249 yards of total offense, including just 92 net passing yards while recording six sacks including 2.5 from Brandon Graham and one and 1.5 from rookie Fletcher Cox. Todd Bowles’ unit which has gained momentum in the last two weeks was simply put in a terrible position with the offense’s barrage of turnovers.
“The guys are working hard and taking pride in their job,” Bowles said. “Everybody is held accountable and the guys are working on it.”
Between the turnovers on offense and the inability to create takeaways on defense, the Eagles simply are not playing at a professional level right now. And they haven’t for quite some time.
Any thought that Andy Reid could possibly return for a 15th season in 2013 were officially vanquished as it was made abundantly clear that there is no upside to his tenure continuing.