NFL

Angelo Cataldi: Are the Eagles overrated, or are they human?

The Eagles' Sunday setback puts them in a tie for first in the NFC East (with the Dal
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The Eagles played a horrible game at Lambeau Field on Sunday, and the first instinct of a diehard fan is to panic. After all, the Packers outscored the Birds, 53-20, outsmarted them, outmuscled them, outhustled them and did everything but outsource them to a foreign country. It was embarrassing.

However, the nightmarish loss does not require an emotional reaction. Remember, this advice comes from a sports-radio talk-show host who has always been first to man the lifeboats, to scream from the mountaintops and to run for the hills. I know when to panic. And this is not the time. Not yet, anyway.

The real story of the Eagles’ humiliation in Green Bay is Aaron Rodgers, an unstoppable force playing at the absolute peak of his powers on sacred turf before cheese-filled admirers. The Birds got the full Lambeau experience on Sunday, and they learned some hard lessons along the way.

First, they found out that their secondary is not playoff-worthy – at least not with a lost Bradley Fletcher on one corner and a clueless Nate Allen protecting the middle. Rodgers was caught snickering on the sideline near the end of the debacle. The best guess is, he was reflecting on the laughable exploits of Fletcher and Allen.

Defensive coordinator Billy Davis must have had a plan to stop Rodgers, although that conclusion is pure speculation after the feeble results. To blitz or not to blitz; that was the question. In the end, it didn’t matter. The Eagles were powerless to stop the Packer offense regardless.

And then there was quarterback Mark Sanchez, known as “The Sanchise” one week and “The Butt-Fumbler” the next. Against the Packers, Sanchez was mistake-prone and awkward – by no means the savior he had appeared one week earlier against Carolina. Which is the real Sanchez? Is there one?

On my WIP radio show yesterday, coach Chip Kelly appeared more bewildered than at any time in his season and a half here. Kelly said the Eagles knew they were facing a formidable challenge, with Rodgers and Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb and even the Lambeau ghosts; he just didn’t know that this would be the first time all season when every part of his team’s game would break down simultaneously.

There are two very distinct ways to look at the Eagles’ 33-point loss on Sunday. Either it was proof that they really aren’t ready for the kind of Super-Bowl run Philadelphia craves, or they just had a rotten day against a terrific quarterback. Are they an overrated team, or are they human?

For now, go with the latter option. The Eagles will return to form against a putrid Tennessee team at Lincoln Financial Field next Sunday. They will have a better game plan, Sanchez will find his touch again, Fletcher and Allen will finally cover somebody.

Of course, if somehow the Eagles lose that game, I have one word of advice. Panic.

Idle thoughts

  • The Sixers, who have been an embarrassment from the day Joshua Harris bought them three years ago, found a way to deepen the humiliation last Thursday night in a historic 53-point loss to Dallas. If you’re a lifelong Sixer fan and embrace their rebuilding strategy, you need psychiatric counseling.
  • With one gesture, Michael Carter-Williams proved how stupid the Sixers’ tanking is. Down 45 in Dallas, coach Brett Brown confronted his star player on the sideline for not hustling. Carter-Williams responded by pointing to the scoreboard. The only thing the Sixers are teaching their kids right now is how to lose.
  • The NHL schedule-maker needs to take a sobriety test. After playing six games in 12 days, the Flyers suddenly had five days off last week to savor their three-game winning streak. Goodbye, momentum. Hello, rust. Columbus was missing eight regulars and had lost nine games in a row. Final score: Columbus 4, Flyers 3.
  • A.J. Burnett, who had rejected a guaranteed $12.75 million to play for the Phillies next season, has signed for $8.5 million to return to Pittsburgh. Five years ago, Roy Halladay begged to come here. Now players are giving back millions not to. Thank you, Ruben Amaro Jr.
  • Former Phillies ace Curt Schilling stepped out of the shadows of his post-baseball anonymity last week to share his unsolicited views on evolution. Yes, evolution. Well, at least now we’re all a lot clearer on the meaning of life.

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