The Philadelphia Eagles came into this season with new life and a profound attitude under first year Head Coach Chip Kelly. After their dismal 4-12 seasons, Eagles management decided it was time for a change. They decided the Andy Reid ship had sailed after a 14 year tenure and it was time to float another boat into the dock. However, Howie Rosman and Jeffery Lurie didn’t just want any old boat, they thew their line out to the most sought after yacht in college football and reeled in Oregon head coach, Chip Kelly. It was a risk and reward power play that would have to settle for a few years before we were able to deem it successful. Either way, it was bold and brilliant, as it breathed new life into a city and a franchise that sorely needed the boost.
Along with the Head Coach, came a new philosophy and system that needed to be implemented and mastered before the team could worry about winning. There was a major roster overhaul and a new message being relayed to the veterans that needed to be adhered to in order for Kelly’s system to advance. All of these intricate things needing to be mastered before success would be accepted.
As you can see, there was a lot of excitement in the City of Brotherly Love this offseason, but we still maintained an expectation of minimal results, understanding we were in a rebuilding phase. The NFL can be very unpredictable at times, leaving us all scratching our heads in confusion. In the same token, the Eagles are currently sitting at 7-5 in the NFC East, trading blows with the Cowboys for the division, way before anyone thought we were ready to compete. This all leads to a dramatic turnaround, in which the Eagles will continue their way into the Postseason by making the playoffs and leading everyone to alter their expectations for the rest of the year.
As we gear into the final 4 games of the regular season, these are my top 5 reasons why the Eagles are going to give Philadelphia fans a special Christmas present with a trip to the Postseason:
- Nick Foles: The Eagles started the preseason amidst a Quarterback controversy between Michael Vick and Nick Foles. Chip Kelly made the choice to go with Vick and after week 1 it looked like the right call as he passed and slashed all over the Redskins. However, after taking over full time, Nick Foles has led the Eagles to a 5-1 record in his six games as starter, leading Chip Kelly to announce he will remain the starter for the next “1000” years. Nick has been remarkable with his accuracy breaking the team record of 233 passes without an interception (19TD/0 INT), previously held by Michael Vick. All this leads to the model of a playoff quarterback, something Foles plans to accomplish.
- Chip Kelly: The questions of surrounding the decision the hire Chip Kelly could be heard all the way around the globe. Is his commitment there? Will his system work in the NFL? He has answered all of these questions with an emphatic YES! Obviously, he is still learning the NFL coaching scheme, but he has adapted well so far and will only get better as the year extends. The one thing that cannot be preached enough is team morale, something that Chip has brought to the team, showing they have bought into the system. There was a reason why current NFL coaches were looking to pick his brain on a regular basis and now all are clamoring to protect themselves from his offensive approach. Chip Kelly is a blue collar, football junkie, which all adds up to the prototypical Philadelphia football fan and a trip to the NFL Playoffs!
- Defense: We are all familiar with the phrase, “Defense wins Championships,” and what it is perceived to mean. Well, when the Eagles began their transition to a new 3-4 defensive scheme under D-Coordinator Billy Davis, it looked like it was going to be a long season full of missed tackles and overwhelming defeats. However, as the season went on, players continued to adapt and now have the look of a solid defense. They have a good mix of experience and solid, younger talent, laying the foundation for a successful playoff push. The two guys who have stood out and showed their willingness to anchor the defense this year have been Trent Cole and DeMeco Ryans. Trent has recorded five sacks, five quarterback hurries, and 31 tackles over his past four games and Ryans has 105 tackles, 3 Sacks, and 2 INTS, on his way to a Pro Bowl season.
- Special Teams: Every NFL team has to be solid on special teams in order to succeed, let alone make the playoffs. Fortunately for the Eagles they have electric return specialist Desean Jackson, a solid placekicker in Alex Henery, and fantastic punter Donnie Jones. A quiet pickup in the offseason, Jones has proved to be a key to the success and rise of the defense. The opposing teams are getting the ball deep into their own territory, giving the defense more options to attack. One of his trademarks this year has been his consistent, situational punting. He holds a percentage of 44.6% inside the 20 and in week 13 dropped 7 out of 8 punts inside the 20, only one away from the NFL record of 8. This is a definite luxury to have leading your playoff push.
- Schedule: The Eagles sit at 7-5 and in my opinion, need to win at least 2 of their next 3 games to set up a showdown in week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys for the division title. The remaining 4 games include Detroit, @ Minnesota, Chicago, and @ Dallas. As Minnesota and Chicago both seem to be running on lost dreams, their schedule favors them to control their own destiny.
As you can see, there are many valid arguments to help support the Eagles cause in being a playoff team. In Philadelphia, they judge teams by character and competition, two things this team strongly possesses. The year started out as a rebuild in progress, basically everyone looking ahead to the draft. Fortunately, for the city and its fans, Chip Kelly has comes as advertised and turned this town in to a frenzy once again!
****As always I appreciate all comments and feedback….you can follow me @TCutillo23.
- Chip Kelly: Nick Foles is the Philadelphia Eagles Starting Quarterback (bleedinggreennation.com)
- Chip Kelly: “Nick Foles is my starting QB for the next 1,000 years” (tracking.si.com)