Call it a Thanksgiving Thud.
What happened to the Eagles, Cowboys and, most shockingly, to the Packers on Thursday signals some major problems with all three teams.
What’s happened to these three, all of which had winning records in 2014 and seemed headed for big things this season, is emblematic of the mercurial nature of the NFL. Other than the Panthers and Patriots at the top, the Browns, Chargers and Titans at the bottom, consistency has been elusive.
At least the Cowboys (3-8) can point directly to one factor that has destroyed their season: injuries to Tony Romo. The latest put a sad exclamation point on his lost year.
Romo was rusty in both of his starts since being sidelined for seven games, all losses. He threw two pick-6s against Carolina on Thursday.
“It was tough. We worked hard to come back. Feel like in some ways I just couldn’t quite get myself into the same mental framework,” Romo said. “When I say that, I mean just the way that I’m used to playing. I needed to take a little more time.”
But with their season on the brink — probably over it considering their record and the holes that have cropped up on both sides of the ball — the Cowboys longed for that shot at re-establishing themselves with Romo behind center.
Within the same weak division, Philadelphia flopped again versus an opponent with a losing record. The NFC East is there for the taking, but it doesn’t look like anyone outside the totally mediocre Giants has enough to grab the crown.
As bad as Dallas was on Thanksgiving, its loss came against the NFC’s beat team. The Eagles’ flat performance came against the Lions, and no one is comparing them to the Panthers.
Philly’s last three defeats have been to Miami, Tampa Bay and Detroit. No playoff contender drops three in a row against that trio, with two at home, no less.
But the Eagles (4-7) did because their offense is dysfunctional, whether it’s Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez at quarterback. The line can’t create room for some very good runners, and the receivers are disconnected with the passers.
As for the defense, it has made getting torched an art form. Philly yielded 90 points in five days. Ten touchdown passes, no interceptions.
“All of us got into the hole, all of us will get out of the hole. We just have to keep fighting,” defensive coordinator Bill Davis said.
With New England and Arizona still on the schedule, that hole looks like a Grand Canyon.
As for Green Bay, some might blame the awful weather at Lambeau Field in Thursday night’s loss to Chicago. Or the emotions spent on the celebratory halftime festivities for Brett Favre, with Bart Starr on hand.
More accurately, dropped passes and poor routes by receivers were especially damaging. Aaron Rodgers wasn’t at his best and the Bears’ defense has been stepping up lately. But miscues in areas the Packers normally excel were critical.
Indeed, in the Packers’ slump of four defeats in five weeks, what they showed — or didn’t show — on offense against Chicago was typical. It puts a burden on a defense that has performed sporadically, but even when it is at its peak, might not be good enough to carry the team.
“We’re just on different pages,” Rodgers said after the game. “When you miss throws, when I’m throwing at a certain depth and the receiver’s running a certain depth, obviously we’re on different pages. So we need to have some better communication and make sure there’s not those discrepancies in the depths and the adjustments.”
Fortunately for Green Bay, it’s still on target for a postseason berth. As for its Thanksgiving showing …
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.