Andy Reid was furious. Referee Scott Green had just cost the Eagles four points because of a roughing the passer call that he had made on defensive end Jason Babin, prolonging an extinguished drive. What should have been a Chicago Bears field goal in the last minute of the first half ended up being a touchdown because of that flag, and Reid was chewing out Green in a way that you rarely see: pointing, gesticulating, the anger shooting from his eyes.
It was a debatable call, to be sure. The hit on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was a little bit late, and that was true enough -- but Babin did appear to be shoved from behind by the Bears’ Chris Spencer. It wasn’t much of a shove, but it also wasn’t much of a hit on Cutler, either. It was a play that the referee might have chosen to ignore in many circumstances. But Green didn’t, and Reid was wild.
Because that is the thing about this Eagles defense -- and Reid has to know it as well as anyone. That is, the margin for error is so small, still.
It is the story of this season, a defense that cannot quite be counted upon. They had come off a good game against the Washington Redskins and a great game against the Dallas Cowboys -- proving, perhaps, that the NFC East really isn’t very good this year. They had played those games, though, and they were beginning to develop a little bit of a swagger, and then they found themselves on the wrong end of a 30-24 score against the Bears at Lincoln Financial Field.
They blew another fourth-quarter lead, allowing the Bears to score 10 unanswered points at the end. It was their fourth blown fourth-quarter lead of the season and their third at home. And when Michael Vick couldn’t pull out the game at the end, the Eagles were left with a 3-5 record and all kinds of issues once again, starting with the fact that they are three games behind the New York Giants in the standings.
They have a run defense that aspires to be adequate. They are using a nickel cornerback, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was having a really rough game against the Bears. At one point in the fourth quarter, after defensive coordinator Juan Castillo had words with Rodgers-Cromartie, the player stomped off, waving his arm in obvious disgust and needing to be calmed down, first by teammates and then by Reid.
Their game is speed. If their pass rush is not dominating, though, it is not enough. As a result, their games can often have a shootout quality to them. If the game is competitive, they cannot seem to keep a lead secure.
Other than that, things are fine.