PHILADELPHIA - There's several reasons why the Philadelphia Eagles have been inconsistent on offense this season.
Now isn't the time for excuses.
Despite an up-and-down offense that showed up last week only to see the defense collapse, the Eagles (5-7) still control their playoff hopes. They would win the NFC East if they win their last four games.
First, they have to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the New York Giants (2-10) on Monday night. A victory would put Philadelphia in a first-place tie with Dallas (6-7). The Cowboys already beat the Eagles and the teams meet in Philly in Week 16.
"We're in a must-win situation. We know that," coach Doug Pederson said.
The Eagles weren't supposed to be in this position in December. They were Super Bowl contenders at the start of the season but things unraveled quickly.
Injuries turned a dynamic offense into a mediocre one. The Eagles haven't recovered from losing wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The speedster had eight catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns of 50-plus yards in Week 1. But he briefly appeared in two other games before abdominal surgery ended his regular season.
Fellow wideout Alshon Jeffery has missed three games and leading rusher Jordan Howard hasn't played since Nov. 3.
Suddenly critics are wondering whether Carson Wentz is a franchise quarterback They're questioning Pederson's job security less than two years after he won a Super Bowl and many are calling for assistant coaches to be fired.
"It has to start with me," Pederson said. "I have to look at my performance and how am I preparing the team? How we practice during the week, am I doing enough there? In-game decisions. I have to look at that first, and then I have to see, and we can't control, obviously, injury. We know this is a violent sport and we're going to miss some guys from time to time. But how well as coaches do we prepare the next guy?
"So I have to look at that and make sure those guys are prepared. And then as we get into games, how are we making adjustments and are we making adjustments in games in all three phases to try to be successful?"
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Wentz got the offense back on track in Miami last Sunday. He threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Jeffery nine times for 137 yards and one score.
But a defense that limited the Patriots and Seahawks to 17 points apiece in consecutive losses surrendered 37 to the dismal Dolphins.
"We always feel if you give us 20 points we should win the game, and we certainly got more than 20," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "We didn't do our jobs in that game, and as a result we got a loss."
The offense certainly missed opportunities to score more points. Zach Ertz dropped two passes, one in the end zone and one at the 5. Jake Elliott missed a 49-yard field goal, snapping a streak of 20 straight. Wentz took a big loss on a sack before that miss. A false start on left tackle Jason Peters negated a converted fourth down, forcing the Eagles to settle for a field goal.
"It seems almost every week it's something different," Wentz said. “We're either shooting ourselves in the foot, I'm turning the ball over, missing throws. It's the consistency, the lack of it is frustrating. I think we did some things well. We didn't make enough plays, obviously, but I think it got us going in the right direction, and we can keep building on it.”
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