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Searching For Answers

With a loss like that, there's plenty of blame to go around.

Following the Eagles' 23-17 defeat at the hands of the Washington Redskins on Sunday, head coach Andy Reid blamed himself, and his players blamed themselves. Whomever the blame actually belongs to, though, the numbers weren't pretty.

After a dominant 80-yard touchdown drive over the game's first six minutes and 34 seconds, the Eagles gained just 174 yards during the final 53:26. They gained five first downs on the initial drive, and just nine the rest of the way. They converted all three of their third-down attempts on the opening series, and just two of their final nine.


After the opening drive, McNabb and Co. couldn't get the offense moving
When the Eagles run 28 fewer plays than their opponents (75 to 47) and score just one touchdown with those plays, chances are a win isn't in the cards. So why, then, were the Eagles able to move the ball effectively on their first drive? Reid is wondering it, and he said it's on him to figure out exactly what's going on.

"I have to put (the players) into the right positions to make plays," Reid said. "We just have to keep working. That's the only thing you can do."

But it seems that new problems keep coming to fruition lately for the Philadelphia offense, and it's getting difficult to deduce which one needs to be corrected the most. Against Dallas, a shaky two-minute drill contributed to a tough loss. In Chicago, it was being on the receiving end of a goal line stand that spelled doom. And against the Redskins, the Eagles simply couldn't sustain an offensive drive.

The Eagles didn't gain a first down in the third quarter, and on their only sufficient drive of the second half – 12 plays for 86 yards – they came away with only three points after a failed third-and-short deep in opposition territory, reminiscent of the Bears game just a week ago.

On third-and-1, Quarterback Donovan McNabb audibled away from the original play, citing miscommunication, but it didn't make a difference. The offensive line collapsed and Brian Westbrook lost three yards, backing the Eagles up to the Redskin 5-yard line for a David Akers chip shot. The field goal made the game a manageable one-possession affair, but the failure to cross the goal line took a lot away from the fans excited to see the offense moving the ball.

The Eagles wouldn't have another offensive possession.

"The (original) play called was a run to the right to the strongside," offensive tackle Jon Runyan said. "The strongside was to the left. There was an issue there so we had to change the play."

As for McNabb, he failed to reach 200 yards passing for the second time in three weeks. And his longest pass play in this one was a 40-yard completion to Reggie Brown – mostly when Brown rushed to his feet and scampered deep into Washington territory after the Redskins failed to touch him when he was down on the ground. Otherwise, McNabb's performance was the definition of dink-and-dunk.

He wouldn't blame his struggles on the chest contusion he suffered in Week 3 against Pittsburgh, but it's clear that something with the offense isn't right.

"I thought that we didn't convert third down(s) and found ourselves back on the sidelines trying to find out what we need to do in order to get things going," McNabb said. "That's just something that just can't happen when you are trying to sustain drives."

What solace the Eagles can take away from a disappointing early-season run is that they've lost three games by a combined 14 points, and they had chances to put away all of them. McNabb was insistent that the Eagles not just could, but should, have won all three of those games.

But a two-game losing streak and a 0-2 record in arguably football's toughest division isn't going to sweeten much of anything.

"I was embarrassed these last two weeks," McNabb said. "When you make mistakes and you don't capitalize on opportunities things like this happen."

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