The Philadelphia Eagles are in trouble again.
Just when it looked like they were about to push the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East division title, the Eagles suffered a setback on Sunday, losing to the New England Patriots by a score of 17-10 and falling a full game behind the Cowboys.
Philadelphia put forth an admirable effort in defeat, but in a short 16-game season, there really isn’t any room for moral victories, especially when you are fighting for your playoff life.
The Eagles were without their top two wide receivers against the stingy Patriots, as DeSean Jackson is out for the year due to core muscle surgery and Alshon Jeffery was sidelined due to an ankle injury.
Jeffery being banged up hardly comes as a surprise, as he has been relatively injury-prone throughout his NFL career, but with Jackson done, Philly desperately heeds a healthy Jeffery the rest of the way.
Going into the season, many lauded the Eagles’ vast offensive talent, but it turns out Philadelphia is not as deep as most thought.
Outside of veteran Nelson Agholor, rookie wideout JJ Arcega-Whiteside has been a rather massive disappointment this season, Mack Hollins is really nothing more than a No. 4 or 5 receiver and the backfield has been rather up and down.
Throw in the fact that Carson Wentz has been less than stellar all season long, and you can see why Philly ranks just 23rd in total offense.
For that reason, the Eagles need their best players on the field week in and week out, as they simply don’t have the depth to absorb all of these injuries. To be fair, no NFL team wants to deal with this, but some clubs can handle it better than the Birds.
Things won’t get any easier for the Eagles next week, either, as they will have to take on the Seattle Seahawks. Philadelphia is at home, so that will ease some of the burden, and should it slip again, the Cowboys will be playing the Patriots, so even if the Eagles fall, they may not lose any ground in the NFC East.
The problem is, Philly is running out of time.
Yes, the schedule eases up after the Seahawks, as the Eagles will then get the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants and Washington Redskins before a showdown with Dallas on Dec. 22, but Philadelphia can’t just rely on the schedule at this point.
The Eagles need to start winning games now, and in order to do that, they need Jeffery back on the field.
No, Jeffery isn’t Julio Jones or DeAndre Hopkins, but he is the best Philly has to offer at the receiver position, and without him, the Eagles’ already ordinary offense becomes that much easier to defend.
Jeffery has been a disappointment this season. In the eight games he has played, he has logged just 34 catches for 353 yards and three touchdowns and is on pace to have his least productive campaign in three years with the Birds.
That much is true.
But it doesn’t change the fact that Jeffery helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl title two years ago, nor does it change the fact that he is Philadelphia’s only hope of turning things around offensively.