Extra Points: Eagles Suffer Ugly Playoff Loss
I spent Saturday afternoon and evening in Ocean City, where my wife's siblings and some cousins gathered for a belated Christmas and New Year's celebration at her aunt's home.
Given that Joey and Mike Mckeown and several other relatives are avid Eagles fans, there was plenty of talk about their upcoming playoff game against Tampa Bay. They were cautiously optimistic, but if the Eagles happened to win, Joey - who lives in Chicago - had already made plans to attend next week's game at Lambeau Field.
A few hours and more than a few drinks later, the conversation took an odd turn. It seems that several folks at the party had bought bidets and were singing its praises as an effective, pleasant, even enjoyable alternative to toilet paper.
It turned out the topics were tied together, for the Eagles played like ... well, you know, in their 31-15 loss to the Buccaneers.
All the good feelings generated during the second half off the regular season were flushed away by Tom Brady and the Buccaneers defense. Tampa will be moving on to the divisional round of the playoffs while the Eagles will be starting what figures to be a pivotal offseason.
The blowout loss - the Eagles trailed 31-0 after three quarters - exposed several weaknesses that need to be addressed if they expect to be NFC East and playoff contenders again next season.
Coach Nick Sirrani and the team made an impressive turnaround down the stretch by winning seven of their last 10 games after a 2-5 start, but it wasn't all that great when you consider they were playing a last-place schedule. The Eagles beat most of the teams they were supposed to beat, but were a combined 0-6 against opponents that wound up joining them in the playoffs.
Sunday made it 0-7.
The Eagles got off to yet another slow start, which is OK when you're going against the Jets, Giants and Washington Football Team. It doesn't work so well when you fall behind good teams like the Bucs, who led 17-0 at halftime. And that falls on Sirianni for not having his team adequately prepared.
Consider the Eagles' first three offensive series Sunday produced 12 yards, one first down (on a penalty) and zero points while the Bucs scored two touchdowns and a field goal in their first four possessions.
The Eagles were not only outplayed, they were also outcoached.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts' future might also come into question. He picked the worst possible time to play his worst game of the season. He committed key mistakes at inopportune times, starting with an interception in the end zone toward the end of the first half. I still think he should be their quarterback in 2022, but I'm not quite as positive as I was a week ago.
I am positive that wide receiver/returner Jalen Reagor has to go. Any chance the Eagles had of making a comeback Sunday disappeared when Reagor foolishly tried to field a punt, only to let it bounce off his hands for a turnover. He also fumbled another punt later in the game and was invisible as a receiver.
I think a change of scenery would benefit him, much like it did with wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins. Come to think of it, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside would also be better off on another team.
Sirianni and the coaches may think they have potential, but an unforgiving fan base would be relentless.
That might also be the case with defensive end Derek Barnett. True, that roughing-the-passer penalty in the first quarter was questionable, but his reputation as a dirty player precedes him. There was also no reason for him to get in Tom Brady's face later in the game. He was probably reminding him of his fumble recovery after Brandon Graham's strip sack in Super Bowl LII.
The defense actually didn't play all that bad against the Bucs, considering they were missing their best pass rusher. Defensive end Josh Sweat miss the game after undergoing what the team termed surgery for a "life-threatening condition" earlier in the week. Ryan Kerrigan of all people stepped up and had his first decent game of the season after being invisible for the first 17 games. But they need more depth up front, not to mention at linebacker and in the secondary. Veteran defensive tackle/end Fletcher Cox didn't get close to Brady until the post-game handshakes.
Special teams also clearly needs an overhaul, aside from place-kicker Jake Elliott. First-year punter Arryn Siposs continued his second-half collapse against the Bucs. His first two punts traveled 27 and 36 yards, respectively.
All in all, it was a performance that deserved to be wiped away as soon as possible.
Unless you have a bidet.