LeSean McCoy with eight carries and less rushing yards than Nick Foles? Chip Kelly was that scared of Cordarrelle Patterson? The Eagles defense gave up that many yards and points to who?
Anger. Frustration. Yelling at my television. Furiously restraining myself from spewing negativity about this Eagles team on Twitter all throughout the game. Briefly getting excited during a mini comeback attempt only to be kicked in the nuts by another defensive let-down.
Then ultimately fighting my way through a cloud of misery after losing to a team we should have beaten.
Yeah, that was my Sunday.
But alas, I’ve calmed down. Yeah, I can be a hothead during Eagles games when things don’t go well and I’ll admit that I have a penchant for turning into a “Negative Nancy” well before the game is over.
However, when the dust settles and my blood pressure comes back down to its normal range, I try to be as unbiased and rational as possible in my viewpoints on the Eagles. And that’s what I’m going to do right now…lay out my view on this team as it stands now.
To borrow a line from Denny Green: “They are who we thought they were!”
Coming into the season, most people (myself included) predicted a season of change for the Eagles that ultimately ended up with an 8-8 record and no playoffs. As a matter of fact, you can view my 2013 season predictions from back in April right here.
Funny enough, I had the Eagles at 8-6 with a shot at the playoffs at this point in the season, albeit with differing wins and losses. However, I predicted the Eagles would lose their final two games and miss the postseason.
That could still happen. Or, they could win one or both of their next two games and still either make or miss the playoffs.
At this point, the Eagles are who we thought they were for the most part. But, they may actually be just a little better than that. They are a team that is still transitioning and fighting to become “Chip Kelly’s team.”
The offense, while explosive and efficient, has had its lapses, struggles and brain farts. The defense, whom we all thought would be the biggest weakness, has exceeded expectations overall but is still just that: the biggest weakness.
The special teams have been mixed.
But, they stand at 8-6 and control their own destiny for a spot in the NFL’s tournament. My question is, are they a good, young team who is continually improving and growing into a team to be wreckoned with in the playoffs?
Or are they more of a mediocre team who are simply fortunate to be where they are right now?
My answer is that it’s a mixture of the two, but it’s not a 50/50 mixture.
I think this team is more fortunate to be where they are than anything else. Let’s recap their five game win-streak before their implosion in the Metrodome on Sunday…
The Eagles were 3-5 and coming off two straight horrible performances against division rivals. Nick Foles then proceeded to light the world on fire by utterly destroying an Oakland defense for seven touchdown passes.
That caught everyone’s attention and started an upswing in momentum.
However, their next four games are a mixture of good play and good fortune.
They faced the Packers in Lambeau who had to play their first game without Aaron Rodgers and instead ended up facing their practice squad QB. If Rodgers didn’t get hurt the week before, that’s likely a different outcome to this game.
Against Washington, a disaster of a team, they started out hot but ultimately had to sweat out a furious comeback by RG3 and the Redskins that came down to an interception in the end zone on a bad decision by RG3.
Up next were the Cardinals, whom all of us touted as the Eagles’ first real test against a good team. The Eagles responded by playing well for the first two quarters and first series of the second half, but then ended up the beneficiary of some highly questionable penalties that allowed them to again withstand a comeback and ultimately win the game.
Then came the game that will live in infamy: the “Snow Bowl” against Detroit. However, because of the conditions of this game, it’s very difficult to use it as “evidence” of how good the Eagles actually are or aren’t.
In the first half of that game, if you recall, the Eagles were getting killed on both sides of the ball and looked like they were the dome team struggling in the snow. My feeling is that if the conditions were normal, the Eagles would have struggled to win that game.
Then there was yesterday’s abysmal performance against a Vikings team that has been playing better football of late, but were still seen as the inferior team (not to mention playing without their best player).
I realize that there are a lot of “what ifs” and we can’t really judge a team based on what might have happened, but when your team wins games based on “fortunate” circumstances, you have to at least take notice.
There is that old football cliché that sometimes teams win with smoke and mirrors, and that could be what’s happening here.
Yes, this is a glass-half-empty viewpoint and it’s not purely because of the loss to the Vikings. It’s something I’ve felt during the entire win streak. Besides the Oakland and maybe the Tampa Bay games, this Eagles team has yet to play well for 60 minutes on both offense and defense.
They now have Chicago coming up and it’s a game that I’m both really looking forward to…and really NOT looking forward to.
Brandon Marshall. Alshon Jeffrey. Matt Forte. These three guys and the Bears’ passing attack have the potential to completely blow the doors off this Eagles defense.
If Matt friggin Cassel and the AP-less Vikings did what he did against this defense, just imagine what the Bears will do.
The only saving grace is that the Bears’ defense isn’t what it used to be either so the Eagles should be able to score a bunch of points too.
All of this isn’t to take away from all of the good things this team has done this year so far. Yes, the Eagles have played well overall and if they were a bad team, they wouldn’t have been in a position to benefit from the aforementioned fortune I spoke about.
What this team is, is unpredictable. They’re just good enough to entertain the notion of winning the division and even making a little noise in the playoffs. They’re also maddeningly inconsistent enough to lose either of their next two games and miss the playoffs altogether.
That’s why I’m not going to predict whether or not the Eagles will win or lose this week or make the playoffs, etc., but I will say that we can expect a struggle. Even if the Eagles lose to Chicago, it will still come down to the Dallas game.
It’s going to be a roller coaster ride these last two weeks.