After a build-up in which head coach Doug Pederson was so confident in his team that he spoke of beating the Cowboys as a when, not if, scenario, the Eagles flew into Dallas and suffered the most humiliating loss of Pederson’s tenure. With the whole country watching them against a division rival, Philly got whupped by the Cowboys 37-10 to take a second straight big loss and fall to 3-4 on the year.
Pederson stopped short of calling his remarks—which were, “We’re gonna win that football game and when we do we’re in first place in the NFC East.”—overconfident. In his postgame press conference, he fell back on the dreaded, “We had a good week of preparation.” But the mood in the Eagles locker room after the game, as captured by The Athletic, was anything but optimistic:
“We went out there and got our asses kicked,” said Dallas Goedert, who fumbled the ball away on the Eagles’ opening possession.
“All we can control is what we do and putting out a shitty performance like that is definitely something that we can’t do,” said Lane Johnson, who surrendered the Demarcus Lawrence sack that created a turnover on the Eagles’ second possession, gifting the Cowboys a 14-0 lead.
“We just got embarrassed on national TV,” said Fletcher Cox, who finally notched his first sack of the season in the third quarter with the Eagles trailing 27-7.
“They kicked our ass today,” said Alshon Jeffery, who led the Eagles’ wide receivers with two catches for 38 yards.
Those quotes do not undersell what was a start-to-finish embarrassment. The Eagles offense couldn’t hold on to the ball, turning it over four times (including two fumbles on the opening two drives). And the Cowboys’ ground game ran all over a struggling Eagles defense that was fresh off allowing the best game of Kirk Cousins’s season. Dak Prescott didn’t have much to do with such a big lead (it was already 27-7 at half), but the Cowboys rushed it 36 times on Sunday and still managed to average 5.3 yards per attempt. Only once, in 22 carries, did Ezekiel Elliott get brought down for a loss.
Though it was far from the deciding factor in the game—the Eagles were down 37-10 when it happened—the play from Philly’s despairing effort that drew the most ire from fans was this failed catch by Nelson Agholor. The long pass to Agholor from Carson Wentz was out of reach for the wide receiver, but the way it came across on the TV replay—as Agholor not even trying to make a play—helped summarize the story of an Eagles team that just didn’t want to be there.
The NFC East remains ridiculously wide open, as the 4-3 Cowboys are in first by virtue of holding the only winning record in the division. But on both sides of the ball, there are so many questions about this Eagles roster, and only nine games left to answer them. On the sideline, too, it’s worth wondering what Doug Pederson saw in this team that made him all but guarantee victory, when the actual result was such a mess.
“It’s going to start with me,” Pederson said. “I’m going to own this one for the football team. I’m going to look hard in the next couple of days but we’ve got the guys in the locker room to get it fixed.”
If there is some sort of fix that Pederson can make here—if the problem isn’t just an underachieving, poorly constructed roster that lacks both offensive weapons and effective tacklers—time is running out to put it into effect.