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Jolt Of Reality: 1-3, In Need Of Win

Any feelings of shock or disappointment or frustration are over now for the players and coaches. It is on to Buffalo, full steam ahead, with the understanding of just how important Sunday's game is for the Eagles.

I wish I had an easy answer for why the team is 1-3. If you want one number, above all others, I would point to the giveaways/takeaways statistic, one in which the Eagles have always ranked highly. Not now. Their minus-6 is tied for 30th in the league, ahead of the Steelers (2-2) and right down there with Seattle (1-3), Kansas City (1-3), Miami (0-4) and Denver (1-3). There is a reason all of those teams are lumped together at the bottom of the heap.

Another telling number is red zone efficiency, which has the Eagles offense ranked 23rd in the league offensively and 32nd defensively.

Many numbers in the NFL are irrelevant. Those are not.

Anyway, what matters is how the Eagles play against the Bills, who are one of the NFL's pleasant surprises at 3-1 (and second in the NFL in red-zone offense and tied for third in giveaways/takeaways at plus-7). Buffalo has a balanced and explosive offense led by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, running back Fred Jackson and wide receiver Stevie Johnson. The Bills will play without left tackle Demetrius Bell, a loss the Eagles must exploit.

Juan Castillo's defense can't afford to allow Jackson and fellow back C.J. Spiller to run wild, and his defense must put consistent pressure on Fitzpatrick. The formula isn't all that different from any game, really. Win the battle at the line of scrimmage and you generally win the game.

I want to see some fight in these Eagles. I want to see some desperation. As maddeningly frustrating as the 1-3 first quarter of the year has been, what has been most worrisome is the missing urgency. You don't blow three fourth-quarter leads and tell me the players feel the necessary urgency to win. I saw a San Francisco sideline on Sunday that never gave up and that responded to the change in momentum. I did not see an Eagles team willing to do what was necessary to seize the swing back in Philadelphia's favor.

So I want to see some fight on Sunday. I want the Eagles to dictate to Buffalo with a fast and physical tempo. I want to see the coaching staff make some adjustments to what they've been doing thus far. I want, in a nutshell, to see that the Eagles -- however it happens -- are shocked into the state of desperation required to win in this league.

We sit around the office -- the fellas and me -- and talk about this team and ask the same questions you ask. The idea that any of the teams that beat the Eagles -- Atlanta, New York, San Francisco -- is better than this team doesn't resonate. But they did beat the Eagles and the Eagles are what they are: 1-3 and in last place in the NFC East.

Not until every player in the locker room understands that and appreciates the importance of the situation will the Eagles emerge from this funk. There are a lot of doubters out there in the world. There are a lot of people who want to see the Eagles fail.

It is up to the players and the coaching staff to turn it around with a sense of purpose, a commitment to each other and, yes, desperation.

Without it, the Eagles are in trouble.


  • Expecting any depth-chart changes this week? Not sure there are any coming, other than the addition of Derek Landri to the defensive tackle rotation and, hopefully, Darryl Tapp and maybe Juqua Parker playing some at defensive end in place of Trent Cole. I expect Brian Rolle and Nate Allen to remain starters at WILL linebacker and free safety, respectively.
  • I hope the Eagles are pushing Danny Watkins in practice. I'd like to see him work his way onto the field in the next few weeks.
  • Brandon Graham is likely to be added to the 53-man roster after the bye week. Who does he replace? At the rate these defensive ends have been on and off the field, I think the Eagles could very well go with six defensive ends on the roster.
  • Jeremy Maclin is on pace to catch 104 passes and LeSean McCoy is on pace to rush for more than 1,400 yards. Very impressive stuff, but I wonder if the pace continues. I think Dion Lewis is in line for a carry or two ahead and DeSean Jackson has to be involved in the offense every week. Where is Steve Smith in this passing game?
  • Strangely, as the Eagles have struggled at times offensively, Michael Vick is ranked third in the NFL in third-down passing with a rating of 109.2. Vick has completed 20 of 28 passes for 260 yards, an average of 9.29 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and one interception.
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