LOS ANGELES — The Philadelphia Eagles are in a bind.
Their defense is a mess.
They can’t afford to keep their starters.
And then they’ve lost three key players.
Coach Doug Pederson has been fired.
The Eagles have lost four of their top five tacklers and three of their best pass-rushers to suspensions in a row.
The Eagles were supposed to be one of the NFL’s elite defensive teams in the wake of last year’s NFC championship game upset of the Green Bay Packers.
The unit was so dominant last year that no one doubted they could be as good as they were in 2017.
The defense was supposed to dominate the NFC West and then dominate the rest of the conference.
Instead, it has been one of last years biggest disappointments.
The secondary is one of Pederson’s biggest liabilities, and he needs to figure out how to fix it.
The Birds have lost safety DeMeco Ryans (torn ACL) and linebacker Deion Jones (concussion) to suspensions.
The team also lost its starting quarterback, Nick Foles, and his high-profile backup, Connor Barwin.
It also lost linebacker Connor Barre, who is a free agent and was the Eagles’ third-leading tackler last year with 5.5 sacks.
The players who have lost are key to the defense, but the coaching staff has a long way to go.
The front office needs to start fixing the problems.
The front office has a lot to fix.
But what it does need to fix is getting the best players healthy and back on the field.
The Birds have already lost the best player on the defense — defensive end Michael Bennett.
He tore his ACL in Week 3, leaving him out of action for three months.
He missed the entire 2016 season because of the injury.
But the Eagles have made it known they want Bennett back, and they are expected to sign him.
The good news is the Eagles are getting better.
They have a good pass rush, a young pass rush and a veteran safety in the form of Nnamdi Asomugha, who was a third-round pick of the Vikings last year.
But they also have a lot of holes on defense.
They lost their top two pass rushers, cornerback DeMarius Jones and safety Landon Collins, both of whom were expected to play on the right side.
Both players are in the final year of their contracts and are coming off career years.
Jones has four sacks and Collins has five.
The coaching staff needs to find a solution to both.
But there are other issues that need fixing.
The offense has had some struggles, and the Eagles defense is one.
It’s too early to tell how the offense will bounce back.
The defense will be tested against the Eagles next week, when the defending NFC champions visit Arizona.
The Bears and Cardinals are also undefeated and have the best defenses in the league.
The offensive line needs to be fixed, too.
Offensive tackle Lane Johnson was cut last year, but he has been working with the coaching crew.
He was supposed at left tackle last season and is starting at right guard this year.
Johnson needs to have a better offseason.
The coaches need to improve the run game and the pass protection.
The receivers need to be better.
The best receiver in the draft, receiver Alshon Jeffery, is in free agency and will have to pay to be part of a defense that has allowed the second-most receptions in the NFL (89).
Jeffery, who played in three games last year due to a knee injury, is not a big playmaker.
He needs to play more, and Pederson should take advantage of his skills to get him in the right spots.
The offense needs a quarterback who is able to throw the ball deep and to run the ball well.
The defensive line needs a change.
The defensive line is the one area where Pederson can make a splash.
Defensive end Mychal Kendricks (concussions) and cornerback Dee Milliner (conciptures) are among the top players on the Eagles defensive line.
Kendricks has missed four games with concussions, and Milliner has missed six with concussion.
The coaching staff will have a tough time finding a replacement.
But the Eagles must get better.
It needs to get better at defensive tackle, the position where they ranked 11th last year and where the team has struggled the most.
The running game needs to improve.
The offensive line has not been the same since Kelly took over.
The team ranked 22nd in rushing yards per game last season with 3.8 yards per carry.
It averaged 4.4 yards per attempt in 2017, the worst mark in the NFC.
The rushing attack also needs to make some big strides.
The quarterback position has been a big problem.
Philadelphia is 3-8.
Kelly is 4-10 and has struggled in the past two games.
The only way the Eagles can find success on offense and defense is if Kelly can get