By Connor Thomas
Yesterday, the Eagles fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in embarrassing fashion, 31-15. The birds got doubled up on the scoreboard, and the game wasn’t even that close. Top to bottom, they were simply outmatched by Tom Brady and the Bucs, and that should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has followed the Eagles this year. First of all, take a look at what they were up against. Despite the injuries that they were facing, the Buccaneers are still the defending Super Bowl Champions. They still have Tom Brady, the undisputed greatest player in the history of football, and possibly the best winner in the history of any sport. They still had one of the best rushing defenses in football this year, perfectly set up to neutralize what the Eagles do best. It was a matchup of a team in the midst of a rebuild against a team that has been built to be one of the all-time greats; a perennial championship contender. That tells you the game shouldn’t have been close.
Despite that, the way that the Eagles performed was still disheartening, but when you break down the reasons behind that performance, it was a microcosm of the issues that have plagued the Eagles throughout the season. Time and time again this season, it has been proven that when Jalen Hurts has to try and beat a team with his arm rather than his legs, the Eagles lose. Well, the Buccaneers made that happen, and the birds’ offense was anemic. Derek Barnett has had costly personal foul penalties all season long to the point where Nick Sirianni was caught mouthing “It’s always him” on the sidelines during an earlier game. Well, he had a back breaking early roughing the passer call on Brady that led to the Bucs first score. Even though it was more ticky-tack than the average roughing the passer call, it should not have been a surprise to see #96 hurt the Eagles in that way.
Jalen Reagor was awful yesterday, muffing multiple punts, one that turned the ball back over to Tampa on a short field, and yet, did anyone not see that coming? Reagor has been nearly unplayable all year. He is devoid of any big play ability; in the biggest moments, he shrinks even more than his normal lack of impact, if that is even possible. He should never play another game in midnight green, but we already knew this well before the Eagles took the field at Raymond James Stadium yesterday afternoon. Even though the fan base knew this, Nick Sirianni had already showed that his faith in Reagor, at least for this season, was unwavering. None of yesterday’s action surrounding him should have been a surprise.
The Eagles defense has not exactly been banner-worthy this season either. Heading into the playoffs, the birds had given up the best completion percentage in the NFL. At 69.4%, that’s only 5% off of Drew Brees’ all-time record for a single season in that category. Well, yesterday they faced Tom Brady, the greatest QB of all time, and he shredded them through the air to the tune of a 78.4% completion percentage. Should that be shocking? Absolutely not. We’ve already seen Brady do that once this season, and he’s arguably the most consistent QB of all time. He does this stuff week in and week out, and has for the last 20+ years.
Here’s the bottom line: the Eagles were not good enough to compete with a team of the Bucs’ standing, and we saw that all season long. The birds are still a rebuilding team, and that is perfectly ok. For all of their faults, Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts took a team that was projected for a sub-.500 season and brought them to a playoff berth. The youngest coaching staff in NFL history coached well enough to outlast 18 other teams. There is young talent on this roster for sure with the likes of DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, Josh Sweat, Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Milton Williams and others that have strong NFL potential. And, maybe most importantly of all, the Eagles still have 3 first round picks in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft, the most first round capital of any team in football. What we learned yesterday is what we already knew about the Eagles: they’re better than the bad teams, and worse than the good. But, for where they were supposed to be at this point in a rebuild, and with the capital they have to continue that rebuild, the Eagles will be just fine.