Effort isn't an easy thing to evaluate, but it seems like the only way to explain how a defense as good as the Philadelphia Eagles' could suddenly become terrible is that the team has thrown in the towel.
For nine games, the Eagles defense didn't allow a team to score more than 27 points, but in a five-day span the unit gave up 90 points. It was only the 12th time in NFL history that a defense allowed 45 or more points in back-to-back games and the first time ever for the Eagles, who hadn't allowed a quarterback to complete more than 65 percent of their passes, and throw five touchdowns without an interception in more than four decades before Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford did it against them in Weeks 11 and 12.
The Detroit Lions hadn't even scored 20 points in eight of the first 10 games of the season before shredding the Eagles defense in a 45-14 win on Thanksgiving. At least one Lions player thought the Eagles just gave up after falling behind.
One Lions vet on Eagles: "We made them tap out. ... Guys just looked like they didn't want to play anymore." Said Detroit saw it in the 3Q.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 26, 2015
Make no mistake, some of the players on the Eagles defense seemed genuinely bothered by the team's performance on Thursday. Defensive tackle Bennie Logan told CSN Philly called the performance "disgusting" and "an embarrassment," while safety Malcolm Jenkins shot down the questions of defensive effort.
"Full effort has nothing to do with execution or how the game goes," Jenkins said. "Full effort is do you think everybody played hard, with the intention to win? I think the answer to that question is yes."
Offensive tackle Lane Johnson also said he hasn't seen any quit yet, but if the Eagles are giving full effort, there's not much explanation how a defense featuring players like Logan, Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, who are all putting together solid 2015 seasons, could abruptly collapse.
Just one day before losing to the Lions, there was a report that an unnamed Eagles starter said that Chip Kelly "is losing the team" and his "bullshit methods aren't working." On Tuesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter said that the Eagles and Kelly "are sick of each other."
Up next for the Eagles is a road game against the New England Patriots, the NFL's No. 2 scoring offense who average 32.3 points per game. If the Patriots manage to score 45 points against the Eagles, it would be the first time in NFL history that a team allowed as much in three consecutive games.
At 4-7, the Eagles aren't sunk in a division that doesn't have a team with a winning record, but answers need to be found and right now, Chip Kelly doesn't seem to have any.