There are numerous reasons why the Philadelphia Eagles have failed to meet expectations through the first five games of the 2011 NFL season. The bar might have been set unrealistically high for Philadelphia -- both by fans and the media, but also themselves --- but I don't think anybody foresaw the Eagles starting out 1-4 and looking so shaky in the process. Michael Vick naturally receives the lion's share of attention -- in good times and in bad -- but it's really the defense that has proven to be the problem for Philadelphia thus far.
The Eagles have given up 132 points so far, tied with Carolina for the most in the NFC. A big part of the struggles has been their inability to stop the run. The Eagles have allowed 140.2 yards per game on the ground, the 28th most in the league. One big reason why the front-seven has struggled is the prolonged triceps injury bothering defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. The free-agent acquisition suffered the injury during Philly's Week 3 loss to the Eagles. He's undeniably been outstanding getting after the quarterback -- his five sacks are tied for fourth most in the league. Doing his part to help stop the run has been a tougher task for him and the rest of the Eagles' defense.
After returning to practice on Thursday on a limited basis, Jenkins is confident he'll play against Washington. He's also confident that the Eagles defense will build upon the momentum they established in the second half of their Week 5 loss to the Buffalo Bills. After getting torched in the first half, the Eagles allowed a mere field goal to Buffalo's high powered offense in the final 30 minutes.
"People are getting a lot more comfortable in their assignments. Because of that, they're starting to play fast," Jenkins said. "That second half that we played out there is something we can't forget. If we can learn from that and carry it over, use it as a standard of what things should be, we'll be all right."
Eagles players held a players-only meeting this week knowing their season is on the brink. Since the playoff format was extended to 12 teams in 1990, four teams have made the playoffs after starting 1-4. The Eagles will try to become the fifth beginning Sunday afternoon in D.C.