The Philadelphia Eagles are 1-2 and appear to be headed towards 1-3 after a date with the Denver Broncos this week. If the Eagles do, in fact, lose this week and go 1-3, that doesn’t bode well for their playoff chances, right?
Maybe, maybe not.
After three games, there are some reasons to remain optimistic as well reasons to start thinking about next April’s draft. Fans may have entered this season not really expecting to make the playoffs, but Chip Kelly has different ideas.
Chip wants to make a splash in his rookie season as an NFL head coach. He wants to show the world that his offense can flourish at this level and that he can coax out of Michael Vick what nobody else could.
And after only three games, why should we as fans give up hope? In the grand scheme of things, it’s easy to look at this season as a rebuilding year, post a losing record and hope that gets us a slot in the draft to take another building block for the future.
However, that makes for a long, depressing season. I’d rather have some excitement this year and be in playoff contention come December. At this point, we can look at the good and the bad and then decide how we, as fans, can approach the rest of this season.
Reasons for optimism:
1. The offense can move the ball and score points. They are ranked first in the league in total yards and ninth in points. LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson have been outstanding so far and when Michael Vick is on, this unit is fun to watch.
2. Have you taken a look at the NFC East? The Giants and Redskins are awful and Dallas is always wildly inconsistent. It’s no stretch to believe the Eagles can go 6-0 in the division this year.
3. Take a look at the schedule. After Denver, their next five games are very winnable. They face the hapless Giants twice, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Oakland. That is an opportunity to gain momentum and establish themselves within the division.
4. The mistakes will get corrected. The Eagles would be 2-1 or even 3-0 right now if they didn’t commit five turnovers against the Chiefs or nine costly penalties against the Chargers. Turnovers and penalties are correctable.
5. The team will continue to gel and Chip will continue to adjust as he learns the NFL. Both sides of the ball should get better as they become more familiar with each other and the schemes. Chip will also learn from his rookie coaching mistakes.
Reasons for pessimism:
1. The defense. They’re ranked 30th in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed. They have committed killer penalties to keep opponents’ drives alive and can’t get off the field on third down. In other words, they can’t stop anybody.
2. Turnovers and penalties. Though these can be corrected, we can’t count on that actually happening when we look at the last two years. The Chiefs game was awfully reminiscent of what we saw in 2011 and 2012.
3. The Eagles’ offense struggled when facing the first solid defense this year. Their success in the first two weeks against lesser defenses could be “fool’s gold” and the better defenses may be able to shut the Eagles down.
4. Michael Vick is too much of a roller coaster. When he’s on, he’s on. When he’s not, he’s not. Vick played lights-out for the first two weeks and then “bad Vick” reappeared in Week 3. We can continue to say it was the offensive line, but I’m really getting tired of that excuse.
5. This is a transition year, after all. This goes back to the train-of-thought before the season began that the Eagles wouldn’t be competitive this year because of all the change. A 1-2 start to the season has reaffirmed this belief.
So, is the glass half full or half empty? Or is it simply just half a glass because that’s what the Eagles are: mediocre?
Fortunately in today’s NFL and particularly in this year’s NFC East, mediocre might be good enough to make the playoffs. And once you’re in the tournament, anything can happen.
I’m not ready to start thinking about the offseason yet, the season is far too young for that.