For nearly all of this NFL season, the Eagles looked terrible but could not be written completely off as a result of their abhorrent division. After throwing away an early 14-3 lead and ultimately losing to the Cowboys in a landslide 37-17 game, the Birds season is officially over. Slim chance that there was of making the playoffs, that hope fizzled into oblivion as the Eagles dropped yet another game. Read about the game’s pressing storylines below.
The Hurts Update
There were bound to be some growing pains with a rookie quarterback. This was certainly a game where Hurts looked shakier than he has in recent weeks. He began the game on fire, leading the Birds on two straight first quarter touchdown drives. Through the rest of the game, he was able to amass a lot of yards but couldn’t manage to lead the offense on any more touchdown campaigns.
Overall, Hurts completed 21 of 39 passes for 342 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He also added 69 yards on nine carries. Multi-interception games happen for essentially every rookie quarterback at some point. Consequently, I don’t think any overreaction concerning Hurts’ play is warranted. However, the future drama of Wentz vs. Hurts is absolutely imminent. Hurts undeniably looked better during his time this year but those on the Wentz side will point to the offense changing to be catered toward the rookie.
Return of Classic DeSean Jackson
Death, taxes, and DeSean Jackson catching a long bomb for a touchdown. In just his first game since mid-October the speedster got loose for an 81 yard touchdown reception in the first quarter of Sunday’s game.
Of course, also in classic DeSean Jackson fashion it was his only reception for the entire day and the Eagles could sure have used some more firepower. Still, it was nice to see Jackson back in action and producing in a big way after a series of injuries have hampered the twilight years of his career.
There’s a saying in the NFL that a team’s depth is truly tested not after the first man goes down, but after several from a single position group are missing. The Birds are experiencing that reality in their secondary and paying the price in a big way. In recent weeks the Eagles have had a slew of injuries in that position group, most notably losing safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Avonte Maddox for the season.
Andy Dalton took full advantage of the remaining Eagles’ secondary on Sunday, throwing for a healthy 377 yards and 3 touchdowns. Most of that damage came against defensive back Michael Jacquet who seemed utterly lost and gave up an embarrassing amount of yards (upwards of 180!). Two wideouts from the Cowboys, Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper, had huge days with 121 yards apiece and the former going for two touchdowns.
A Look Ahead: Time to Play Spoiler
While there is no hypothetical outcome of week 17 that grants the Eagles a playoff berth, they can play spoiler for the Washington Football Team. Should the Birds emerge victorious when the two teams clash next week, the Washington Football Team will be eliminated from playoff contention. In that case, the winner of the NFC East will go to the victor of the Giants/Cowboys matchup that will take place earlier in the day. Next Sunday will be a truly rare moment when another NFC East team will be rooting wildly for an Eagles win.