Rapid Reaction: Panthers 30, Eagles 22
November, 26, 2012
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Some thoughts from the Philadelphia Eagles' (gulp) seventh loss in a row, this one to the lowly Carolina Panthers in front of a "Monday Night Football" audience.
What it means: That the Eagles are, by a legitimate measure, the worst team in the NFC. Their 3-8 record is the worst in the conference and identical to that of the Panthers, who just beat them on their home field. The only teams in the NFL with worse records are the 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars and the 1-10 Kansas City Chiefs. This is the Eagles' first seven-game losing streak since 1994, and they are no longer capable of finishing with a better record than last year's 8-8 mark that team owner Jeffrey Lurie termed unacceptable before this season began.
The good and bad of Bryce Brown: Brown, the seventh-round rookie running back who'd been siphoning some of LeSean McCoy carries, returning kicks and getting looks at the goal line in the first 10 games of the season, stepped into the starter's role with McCoy out due to a concussion. He had a statistical first start for the ages. His 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter announced his presence and fired up a skeptical home crowd, and he finished with 178 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He also fumbled twice in the second half, which damaged the Eagles' momentum and helped the Panthers take the lead in the fourth quarter, so it was far from a spotless night. But as a runner, when he had the ball in his hands, Brown looks speedy and shifty and capable of handling more of a workload than he'd been given previously.
Coverage problems: The Eagles' pass defense continued its recent struggles early in the game, allowing two easy Cam Newton touchdown passes in the first quarter. And while the coverage seemed to tighten up a bit after that, it would have been difficult for it not to improve, and Carolina receivers didn't have too much trouble getting open when they had to. Newton finished the game 18-for-28 for 306 yards and two touchdown passes. He also rushed 54 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. And over the past five games, since Juan Castillo was fired as defensive coordinator and replaced by Todd Bowles, opposing quarterbacks are 94-for-125 (75.2 percent) for 1,207 yards, 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions against the Eagles.
Rookie QB: Still not much to go on with rookie Nick Foles, who made his second straight start at quarterback due to Michael Vick's concussion. He threw a nice deep ball that drew a key 51-yard pass interference call in the third quarter to set up Brown's second touchdown run, but for the most part he was handing the ball off and throwing screen passes. There were at least three passes he threw in the first half that looked like poor downfield decisions that were nearly intercepted, and it seems clear that the Eagles are not yet asking Foles to do very much.
Injuries: Wide receiver DeSean Jackson left the game in the first quarter with what the team called a sternum injury, and rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox left in the second quarter with a tailbone injury. Neither player returned to the game. Left tackle King Dunlap also had to leave the game in the third quarter with an unspecified injury, but he was able to return.
What's next: The Eagles will travel to Dallas and play the Cowboys on Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys are 5-6 and trying desperately to stay in the division and wild-card races. Dallas beat the Eagles 38-23 in Philadelphia in Week 10.