The Eagles are officially in freefall.
Andy Reid’s team, which came into the season with Super Bowl aspirations, is a mess right now. Forget the scoreboard, where the Eagles blew a 23-3 lead to lose 24-23 to the San Francisco 49ers. The real story is on the field, where Reid’s team looked disorganized and at times disinterested.
A week after Reid said he would fix the problems that plagued the Eagles in come-from-ahead losses to the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, the very same problems cost them this must-win game against the lowly 49ers.
Turnovers. Michael Vick threw another interception. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin fumbled away the Eagles’ last chance to salvage the game.
Red zone misery. The Eagles struggled inside the 20 again, the lowlight being Ronnie Brown’s ingenius decision to throw the ball out of a pile at the 1-yard line. The resulting fumble cost the Eagles at least 3 points in a one-point loss.
Poor tackling. The Eagles safeties and linebackers continue to believe they are devastating hitters who can decleat an opponent with sheer power. They’re not, and they again bounced off opponents who continued running with the ball.
Collapsing defense. After blowing fourth-quarter leads in Atlanta and at home to the Giants, the defense began its weekly disappearing act in the third quarter. The Niners scored two touchdowns in the third, then capped the comeback with an all-too-easy score with 3 minutes left.
Worse still, the Eagles’ highly hyped, highly paid cornerbacks played as if tackling opponents was not in their job description. Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha both appeared to give up on big gains by the Niners.
Those recurring problems were joined by some fresh new worries. Rookie kicker Alex Henery, a fourth-round draft pick, missed two routine field goals in the second half. Either of those might have been the difference between losing and winning.
The Niners were not exactly a powerhouse coming into this game. Their defense was among the worst-ranked in the league. But they were able to blitz Vick, manhandle the smallish receivers and generally abuse the center of the Eagles offensive line.
So the Eagles are 1-3 after opening the season with a victory in St. Louis. Their three-game losing streak makes them a combined 1-6 in their last seven games, including a playoff loss to Green Bay.
In the Niners, the NFL schedule gave Reid a perfect opportunity to fix some of the major problems that have plagued this team. Instead, the Niners gave him one of the worst and most dispiriting losses of his 13-year tenure.
There is a lot more to fix and, with road games against surprisingly good Buffalo and Washington teams coming up, little time to fix it.