by Justin Henry (@cynicjrh)
NFC East Beat Writer/Guy who Suffered 'Laugh Hernia' Because of Mark Sanchez
Early defensive miscues. Three lost fumbles. Overly conservative passing game. Allowing long drives to an opponent with a worse record than you.
The standards of excellence for the Philadelphia Eagles have dipped so much, it's hard to believe the playoffs were almost a birthright each year.
This time, the Eagles were upended by the Carolina Panthers, 30-22, at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles lost their seventh straight game, which they have not done in-season since 1994, and over the span of two seasons since 1998-99.
Nick Foles and Bryce Brown started in place of Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy respectively, and demonstrated some flashes of brilliance, offset by costly mistakes and general lack of production. DeSean Jackson was injured during the contest, providing another loss for an offense with more holes than a cheese grater.
Other than Brown's breakout night, which we'll get to in a moment, the lone highlight was Mike Patterson recording his first sack since returning from life-saving brain surgery this offseason.
But alas, the Eagles drop to 3-8, hitting the threshold necessary to activate Jeffrey Lurie's ultimatum of a winning record, or the sealing of Reid's fate.
Only a wild card spot can save Big Red now.
1. Super Cam Finally Plays Up to Expectations
Critics champ at the bit to compare Cam Newton to the likes of JaMarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf, hoping to see the 2010 Heisman winner, and 2011 first overall draft pick, be clipped of his cape and fall on his face.
Despite Carolina's overall shortcomings, Monday night provided a glimpse at Newton at his finest.
"Super Cam" threw for 306 yards, his second highest total this season, and 2 touchdown passes, with no interceptions, in leading the Panthers victory. It also marks the second time this season that Newton has thrown 2 more touchdowns than INTs. The other came when his stat line read 2 touchdowns/0 picks against the Falcons.
Of his 306 yard night, on 18 of 28 passing (64.3 percent, his first time topping 60 percent since Week 4), Newton also completed 3 passes of 30+ yards, crowned by a 55 yard completion to Louis Murphy.
Newton also added 2 rushing touchdowns, on 52 yards over 14 carries. This is the first time Newton's run for 2 or more scores since December 4, 2011, when he punched it in 3 times against the Buccaneers.
The game also marks the second time this season that Carolina didn't turn the ball over once. The only other time came in the Panthers' 21-13 win over the Redskins on November 4.
2. The Yin and Yang of Bryce Brown
Good: out of 48 plays from scrimmage, the Eagles called 25 runs against 22 passes, a staggering 52.1 percent run rate that is virtually unheard of in the Reid/Morninhweg Era.
Bad: this display of run-love came with Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy injured, thus putting most of the workload on rookie seventh-rounder Bryce Brown.
Good: Brown took 19 carries for 178 yards, the sixth highest rushing total for the Eagles since 1960, and 28 yards shy of owning Steve Van Buren's team record. He also ran for 2 touchdowns.
Bad: Brown also lost 2 fumbles in the third quarter.
The Panthers gave up 4.0 yards per attempt heading into Monday's game, and the Eagles managed to paste them with 204 yards on 26 carries (7.85 YPA). That's the fifth time Carolina's given up 130+ rushing yards to an opponent this season.
Brown woke up the comatose Linc crowd with a 65-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, the centerpiece of an unanswered 12-point swing for the Birds that led to them gaining a 15-14 halftime lead.
Brown's two fumbles in the third, however, would help stall a gallant effort down the stretch.
If/when Reid does go, consider this silver lining: whoever comes in next can't be so stingy with pass/run ratio that he wouldn't consider a McCoy/Brown one-two combo a major asset.
There's always the future.
3. Eagles Secondary Burned to a Crisp
Remember what I said earlier about those 3 passes of 30+ yards for Newton and the Carolina offense? That also continues to validate the depths of which the Eagles defense, particularly its secondary, has sunk.
The Panthers had 14 pass plays of 30+ yards over their first 10 games, or 1.4 such plays per game. 3 more were added against an Eagles secondary more confused than Amanda Bynes stopping in a dry county.
But it wasn't just 30-yard plays that did damage. Tight end Gary Barnidge scored Carolina's first points on a 24-yard strike, in which miscommunication over a corner/safety blitz led to the backup end moseying toward the end zone for the easy grab, with Nate Allen and Nnamdi Asomugha lollygagging strides away.
Less than 3 minutes later, Brandon LaFell punched up the score with a 43-yard touchdown.
Murphy's 55 yard catch, as well as a 31-yard reception by Steve Smith, only heightened the Eagles' coverage woes.
Since Todd Bowles has taken over as defensive coordinator in surrogate of the fired Juan Castillo, the Eagles have allowed 13 touchdown passes and have picked off 0 passes.
Bowles, it should be noted, was the secondary coach for the six games prior to Castillo meeting the ax. During that stretch, the Eagles had 8 interceptions; 7 of them by secondary players.
4. Unlucky Seven for Philadelphia
The Eagles 7-game losing streak harkins hardened fans back to the days of Rich Kotite's final days in Philadelphia. The former sparring partner of Muhammad Ali lost the last 7 games of the 1994 season, bringing a promising 7-2 squad to 7-9.
The year 1994 was also Jeffrey Lurie's first year as team owner, and Kotite was canned for that run of futility.
However, there are differences between that 7-game skid, and this current one under Reid.
In 1994, of those 7 losses, only 3 of them were by 10 points or more. Only one of them, a 26-7 loss to the Browns, was by more than 14 points.
This time around, of the 7 defeats, 4 were by 10 points or more. Three of them, losses to the Saints, Cowboys, and Redskins, were by 15 or more points.
The 1994 Eagles gave up 22.9 PPG during their fail run, three times allowing an opponent to top 28 points on them.
The 2012 Eagles gave up 28.4 PPG during this streak, with six opponents scoring 28 or more points.
The 1994 Eagles didn't lose another game under Kotite, as the season ended after the final loss to Cincinnati, and Kotite was fired.
For Reid, the streak may continue.
5. The Road From Here
And it may continue on Sunday Night Football on NBC, as they play the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones' team finds itself 5-6, and technically third in the division, after the Thanksgiving loss. With the team needing to make up ground in the hopes of a wild card spot, or even the division lead with a little luck, expect them to splatter the Eagles on 10 days rest.
As for Carolina, their season is just as shot at 3-8, and coach Ron Rivera's staring down the barrel of termination as much as Reid is. Next on the docket are the hapless 1-10 Chiefs, against whom Carolina could hurdle to improve their standing.
Oakland, San Diego, and Atlanta (whom the Panthers almost beat earlier this year) all loom on the schedule as well, meaning a late push over some troubled squads could save Rivera's job.