There was a time, not so long ago, when Ezekiel Elliott was in Cabo and the Philadelphia Eagles were perceived to be on Easy Street with a clear path to the playoffs and a chance to make another great Super Bowl run.
Through three games, though, things haven't gone as planned. At 1-2, the Birds find themselves in the unenviable position of badly needing a win in Green Bay, at night, on national television.
The season started fine, with a 32-27 victory over the Washington Redskins, though plenty of reg flags were on display. Then Jim Schwartz's defense got caught in a blitz at the wrong time against the Atlanta Falcons and Julio Jones burned them badly. Things got worse last weekend when the Detroit Lions, of all teams, came into the Linc, gave the Eagles plenty of opportunities to win, and yet still walked away with a W.
The hometown fans are getting a bit restless. The early struggles are so front of mind that they crop up even when performing heroic, life-saving tasks. Carson Wentz has been underwhelming when not blitzed. The receiving corps has had a bad case of the drops. The defense has allowed 25 points/contest. The injuries continue to pile up for key contributors.
Clutch play has been hard to find.
And so here we are. Doug Pederson's team walks into Lambeau as 5.5 or 6-point underdogs and must deal with a Green Bay team that's been operating as a hard-nosed defense-first side. If things go as Vegas expects and the Pack prevail, Philly will be 1-3, potentially four games behind the Cowboys in the division, and losers of the tiebreak vs. Green Bay and Detroit in a potential Wild-Card chase.
That ain't good. Especially with six of their next seven coming against quality opponents. Navigating three straight road games in Minnesota, Dallas, and Buffalo will be a challenge. The Bears-Patriots-Seahawks stint at home won't be a picnic either. One has to think emerging 4-2 through that stretch would be a victory.
Long story short, it's getting late early for Philadelphia. That wasn't the plan-- but the plan has changed. A lot on the line tonight .