Originally posted 11/22/08
Despite my earlier optimism, the 2008 Eagles season is starting to look an awful lot like 2007. We seem to have the pieces, and yet we can't execute. I mean seriously, a tie against the Bengals??
Last season, the Birds finished in the top 10 in total offense AND defense, yet with an 8-8 record in the cellar of the NFC East. Currently, this season they're ranked 6th in total offense and points scored, 7th in total defense, and yet here they are with a measly 5-4-1 record. The fact that their record now requires a third space is also just plain annoying, although to be fair they would have been near the bottom of the heap of 6-4 teams in tiebreakers anyway so the tie isn't quite as damaging as one would think. It's really more the cold, hard truth that a team that can't beat the Bengals surely shouldn't deserve to be in playoff contention down the stretch.
The only minor relief was that the Birds' failure to win this one really had little to do with their ineptitude in short-yardage situations. After single-handedly losing the Bears game on goal-line incompetence, and having failed 3rd and 1's heavily contribute to the losses against the Redskins and the Giants, it was at least refreshing to find a new area of patheticness in that last debacle. One has to wonder how bad this season is really going when Donovan McNabb, the man who literally owns the best interception-to-pass-attempt ratio in NFL history, throws 3 picks against the Bengals defense. At least now the Philly fans have no qualms about loudly vocalizing their desire to ship McNabb on the next train out of town- unless of course Kevin Kolb ends up starting his career in a similar fashion to AJ Feeley's 2007 Seahawks performance, reminding us fans that maybe McNabb wasn't so bad after all.
Anyway, regardless of the reasons, the overall fact remains that the Eagles cannot (and continually have not) won the close games. Their 4 losses have all been by less than 1 possession, and a total of 19 points (or less than 5 points a game), while their 5 wins have been by an average margin of 18 points. They are a lousy 1-10-1 in their last 12 games decided by 6 points or less (the sole win coming in that December game against Dallas last year, when the Eagles' season was already over anyway), which perhaps says it all about this team. A team that wins 1 of its last 12 close games can never be a contender for anything other than a high draft pick. So just like last season, where 6 of their 8 losses were lost by a TD or less, this team continues to lose games in the final minutes.
And isn't that the most frustrating way to lose? To know that your team was capable of winning and then failing to do so, time after time after time? How many times do we have to shake off the inclination to say "but we should have won", knowing that "should" doesn't mean jack in this game. If you can't finish games, you're really just in the same boat as the Lions or the Raiders or... yikes... the Bengals.