Yeah, yeah, I know I’ve come across as leaning heavily on the negative with the commencement of the 2015 Eagles season, but the whole point is, or was, to bring a bit of reality to the equation. It’s not like the team sucks, or that I think they suck.
They’re good, and they’ll be fine. They’re just not a Super Bowl contender … at this point.
No one had any business stating, or even believing they were.
Being loyal and supporting the team is one thing. Being an idiot and failing to realize what is and what isn’t is something altogether different. Thing is, the distinction can be a fine line, and with the rush of enthusiasm and hope morphing into one colossal burst of midnight-green-colored emotion, fans in Philly often blur that line.
This year, they just snapped it in half, forgoing any warning signs or causes for concern.
That being said, Monday night’s 26-24 loss in the Georgia Dome to Atlanta, that “sad sack” outfit of Falcons we heard so much about sucking, should not be cause for a pre-Pope rush to the bridges along the Delaware River.
Chip Kelly got outcoached.
The DL got handled.
The OL got handled.
The secondary, at times, got exposed.
The ground game got lost.
All of that stuff has happened before and will happen again. Thing is, it would be nice if just one or two of those, umm, hiccups, appeared in a single game.
For all the hype about his Xs and Os, not to mention the “culture” he is creating, Kelly – flat out – didn’t have his team ready to go in this one. The Birds fell behind 20-3 by halftime, and while many will point to Sam Bradford’s “bad” late second-quarter INT being crucial to that margin, the visitors were lucky to even be within earshot, never mind 17 points, at the break.
The amazing thing is, the Eagles came back to take the lead, 24-23, in the fourth as the deluge of dink-and-dunk passes that may be the trademark of this offense surged Philly in front.
I’m not a Bradford fan, and never will be. While I can appreciate the excitement surrounding a new toy for Chip’s playhouse, and am WELL AWARE that he comes with a “pedigree” thanks to being a former top overall draft pick, the fact of the matter is, he has been nothing better than mediocre during his five-year NFL career. Nothing worse, mind you. But certainly nothing better.
The guy he replaced, Nick Foles? He was exceptional two seasons ago. Other than that, he was pretty much the same as Bradford. No worse, mind you. But not better, either.
So, with sooooo much of this season’s hopes riding on Bradford, the question now, as it always should have been, is why? If the basis of 13-win predictions and more were based on a three-series exhibition against Green Bay in the preseason … umm, yikes. Even what he did in summer-camp practice was, well, ridiculously overvalued. His playing sample under real fire is more than enough to gauge what Bradford is.
Which is … a serviceable, if not solid, NFL QB.
Bradford’s career yards-per-attempt is more West Coast, passing-as-a-form-of-rushing than it is light-em-up, break-em-deep, and Monday night’s 6.5 average was entirely predictable. It is who Bradford is. It’s what his reportedly “magical” arm delivers … something not exactly magical.
But, magic isn’t exactly what fans seek. Wins are. Magic would be nice, if wins were gained as part of it. But it’s not necessary, and that’s good because Bradford isn’t going to supply that … should he even survive the injury bug that has plagued his playing career, both in the pros and college.
He has enough pieces around him to succeed. Guess what, so would Mark Sanchez. Or whoever else ends up taking snaps behind center this season for the Eagles.
DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews are legit, quality backs … that Kelly just has to use, instead of outsmarting himself with displays such as Monday night’s 52-16 pass-to-run ratio.
Defensively, yeah, they got issues. They also have talent in their front seven, particularly in newcomer Kiko Alonso and holdovers Mychal Kendricks and Connor Barwin. Plus, consider this, it performed poorly in most people’s minds against an offense headed by a very good QB in Matt Ryan, and the team lost by two … on the road.
Thing is, the D did enough for the Eagles to win anyway. Ryan didn’t light it up. In fact, he got picked twice and could’ve been picked twice more if not for Malcolm Jenkins’ stone hands. But even he made a great stop late to give the offense one more chance to pull out the W.
It just didn’t do it.
But it will in the future. It’s good enough to do so. It just isn’t good enough to be considered a Super Bowl contender right now.
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org