After starting 6-2 under QB Nick Foles, and 9-3 under Mark Sanchez, the Philadelphia Eagles have choked in the final month of the season.
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There have been many legendary choke jobs in NFL history: the 2008/2009 Broncos, the 1994 Dolphins, the 1993 Eagles – but the 2014 Philadelphia Eagles may go down in history as one of the most inexplicable collapses ever. Sure QB Mark Sanchez is one of the most turnover-ridden QBs in football, but he’s in an offensive system that four nearly a month played to his strengths and had him posting the best numbers of his NFL career. When the Eagles dominated the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving everyone thought the Eagles would be the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. And then they (almost expectedly) lost to the Seahawks – forgiveable. But the following week in a mind-boggling loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the team allowed 21 unanswered points before making a 24-point rally, only to fall late in the game after a Sanchez turnover.
But the straw that broke this camel’s back will probably go down in history as the inexplicable loss to the previously 3-11 Washington, with QB Robert Griffin III off the bench for his first time in a month, and losing 27-24 with former All-Pro WR Desean Jackson laughing as he made big-play after big-play to seal the Eagles playoff fate – that will be the legacy of the 2014 Philadelphia Eagles.
Here are the five biggest losers from Week 16 of the NFL season:
Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles were believed by many to have made a mistake when they cut WR Desean Jackson for unknown reasons back in the offseason, and it came back to bite them in this game that ultimately cost them a trip to the playoffs. The only people likely to lose their jobs over this, however, are QB Mark Sanchez, some weak-links in the secondary, and perhaps whichever players the Eagles might trade to acquire Marcus Mariota in the 2015 NFL draft.
New Orleans Saints – The age of the Saints as an NFC powerhouse, let alone an NFC South powerhouse, are just about over. QB Drew Brees committed three turnovers and only had one TD against a Falcons team that had given up a total of 70 points in the two previous weeks. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will likely take the fall, but QB Drew Brees may have to rework his contract in a year or two to stay in New Orleans.
Arizona Cardinals – It’s interesting to think what kind of record this Cardinals team would have if they had Carson Palmer for the entire year. But there are very few teams in NFL history that have been ravaged at the skill position as much as the Cardinals have and still made noise in the playoffs, much less go to the Superbowl.
Baltimore Ravens – Talk about squandering a golden opportunity. QB Joe Flacco simply didn’t show up in that game, going 4 of 22 at one point and his poor play cost the Ravens control of their playoff destiny. Now they need to beat the Browns (easy enough) but hope that the Chargers lose in order get into the playoffs. If those things don’t happen this will be the first time since 2007 that there isn’t a Harbaugh coaching an NFL playoff team.
Indianapolis Colts – That was a terribly embarrassing loss that may prove that the Colts are the product of an easy NFL schedule and are simply not ready for the NFL playoffs. The offense was dropping passes left and right and by halftime the punter Pat McAfee (who had one incomplete pass on a fake) had a higher passer rating than QB Andrew Luck.