Oct 28, 2012, 6:50 PM EST
If Juan Castillo’s dismissal was supposed to light a fire in the locker room, then it was unsuccessful. If it was intended to correct problems on defense, Todd Bowles appeared to have the exact opposite effect.
After holding opponents to 18.8 points per game through six weeks, the Eagles’ defense gave up 30 on Sunday. After losing fourth-quarter leads in consecutive games, and seven times over the past two seasons, they surrendered six scoring drives on the first six possessions.
They were a no-show up until the final minutes, or just long enough to tell the remaining home crowd, “Thanks for coming.”
Matt Ryan was a surgeon, hitting on 22 of 29 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns, while Julio Jones caught five balls for 123 yards, including a 63-yard score. The duo led the undefeated Atlanta Falcons to a 30-17 victory, dropping the Eagles to 3-4.
The game was not nearly as close as the scoreboard would indicate though.
The Falcons were ahead 14-0 in the opening period, 24-7 at the half, and 30-10 at one point in the fourth quarter. They were unstoppable in the early goings, converting on seven straight third downs, ultimately reaching the end zone on their first three possessions.
The Eagles won the coin toss and deferred, sending Atlanta on a methodical, 18-play march that chewed almost nine minutes of clock. Following an ugly three-and-out, the Falcons made the most of excellent field position around midfield. The Eagles matched with six of their own, but Ryan quickly came back with the deep strike to Jones.
Atlanta also went 66 yards in under three minutes to sneak a field goal before halftime.
With the league’s 30th-ranked scoring offense entering the week, the Eagles predictably were not up for a shootout — least of all in wet, windy conditions. By the time the defense finally forced their first punt of the afternoon, it was going to take a Michael Vick miracle to steal a W.
He didn’t have it him. Vick was 21 of 35 with a TD and zero turnovers, but only averaged 5.5 yards per attempt, and was under an increasing amount of pressure late in the game. LeSean McCoy was stifled for much of the day as well, carrying 16 times for 45 yards, but added rushing and receiving scores.
It was far from a quality performance by the offense, but dropped in a hole at the very start, it was almost an impossible situation. The Eagles only had three meaningful possessions in the first half, and by then they were already trailing by 17.
It turns out Bowles didn’t work like some magic pill that promises to transform any defense into Gang Green in just two weeks or your money back. It was only one game, but they actually regressed, even looked like they had quit by the end. It was enough to make anybody wonder if firing Castillo backfired.
That’s not good for Reid, who went into the bye with some major issues on offense, and some troubling trends on defense, but appears to have exited the bye with the same issues on offense, and wholesale problems on defense.
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