With Peyton Manning and a talented Broncos squad on the other sideline, the Eagles figured to have a tough game Sunday. Sporting a secondary that is still learning to play together under a new system, Philadelphia came out of Week 4 about as battered as possible, dropping their third consecutive game by a score of 52-20.
Here are five observations after the Eagles’ blowout loss to Denver Sunday afternoon:
1. There is no question the Eagles defense still needs time (and perhaps some upgrades) to improve, but it’s very important to remember that Manning and company have been lighting up every opponent they’ve faced this year. Did fans really expect the rebuilt Eagles defense of all units to put a leash on Manning, who came into the game with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions in just three weeks?
2. Just as much as the defense needs work, the Eagles offense could also use a boost. For the second week in a row, points were hard to come by despite explosive outings to start the year, and while QB Michael Vick did not turn the ball over, the unit had just 13 points until a touchdown connection from backups Nick Fole and WR Jeff Maehl in the fourth quarter. Running backs LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown combined for 24 carries, but gained just 92 yards behind an up and down offensive line.
3. Despite three straight losses to leave themselves 1-3 on the season, the Eagles are far from out of the NFC East division race. Of course, a lot of improvement is needed before any talks of playoffs can enter the picture, but looking at the rest of the East, it’s not the slightest bit impossible to consider Philadelphia alive. Dallas is in first place, but is just one game ahead at 2-2, while Washington is similarly 1-3 and the Giants have yet to win a game.
4. What happened to Alex Henery? In his first two seasons as the successor to longtime kicker David Akers, he was practically Mr. Reliable. But Henery has missed several mid-range field goals in recent weeks, some of which have come at crucial moments. Speaking of special teams, the whole unit seemed a little lost Sunday, allowing the Broncos to score their second TD of the game on a 105-yard kickoff return by Trindon Holliday.
5. One thing that stood out on Sunday besides the Eagles losing by a whopping 32 points and giving up four touchdown passes to Manning was the lack of help Vick seemed to have from his receivers. Tight end Brent Celek led the team with 57 yards, but was responsible for a red-zone drop early in the game. Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson posted just two catches for 34 yards on the outside, perhaps missing the benefit of another regular starter on the opposite side of the field (e.g. injured Jeremy Maclin).