LANDOVER, Md. - There were no asterisks to attach to this loss, none of that rusty-after-bye, play-here-play-there stuff. This was a bad loss, a divisional butt-kicking in which the Eagles were dreadful on defense, disjointed on offense and unable to be lifted up by their star rookie, who threw for his fewest yards this season, lowest completion percentage, lowest quarterback rating and took five sacks while doing so. For the first time, he looked like a rookie.
Taking into account the shuffle at the right tackle position that took place this past week as rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai subbed in for Lane Johnson, Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he expected to let things settle down early against Washington by running the ball somewhat more than usual.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai says he is asked to pronounce his first name "about 10 to 15 times a day, usually." His nature is such that he remains pleasant nevertheless. He smiles patiently and says in a soft voice that belies his 6-foot-6, 315-pound stature, "Hal-lah-poo-lee-VAH-tee."
All right, fine. What if? This voice of reason stuff can wear you out. Always bringing an umbrella if there is a distant cloud in the sky. Sticking your hand in the post office mail slot to make sure the envelope fell through. Stepping carefully over the crack in the sidewalk.
When the Eagles announced the trade of cornerback Eric Rowe last week, coach Doug Pederson said the team wanted to give Rowe a chance to play. The obvious implication was that it sure wouldn't happen here for the converted safety taken in the second round of the draft two years ago.
Bob Ford is an award-winning sports columnist for the Inquirer. He is a four-time Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year, as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. His work has been cited numerous times by Associated Press Sports Editors judges, and he won an Eclipse Award for outstanding coverage of horse racing. Prior to becoming a columnist at the Inquirer, Ford was the 76ers beat writer for six seasons and then a general assignment feature writer with a specialty in Olympic sports. In 1995, he was designated a fellow of the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. Ford has written sports in the Philadelphia area since 1981, when he served as the Phillies beat writer and later as a general sports columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times.