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Relax, Eagles fans: We knew this team would have growing pains

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In retrospect, the Philadelphia Eagles beating the Redskins in the season opener was probably the worst thing that could have happened to them.

 

Yes, Philly fans fall in love quickly in this town.  After all, the Birds looked impressive for three quarters in that first game. Pretty much the whole Delaware Valley was excited over the potential they thought this team had. Photo: cbssports.com

 

However, the smoke has now cleared and the dust has settled a bit. It’s pretty obvious now that Robert Griffin III is far from one hundred percent, and there are now some doubts as to whether RG3 will ever regain his effectiveness. 

 

In a nutshell, these mitigating circumstances followed by the Birds’ two consecutive losses makes their opening night victory seem more like a mirage than anything.

 

But before everybody completely jumps the gun here, I’ll take a line from my P2P colleague Steve Olenski and sum the 2013 Eagles up in one word: Patience.

 

I said from the moment the team hired head coach Chip Kelly that the Eagles, if everything went perfectly, would go 7-9.

 

Well, things aren’t going so perfectly after the first three games. But was anybody expecting this Eagles team, many of the players the same players who went 4-12 last year under Andy Reid, to magically turn into world beaters after one training camp under Kelly?

 

We’re all smart enough to know it doesn’t work that way, and it’s quite apparent that Kelly has still quite a bit of work to do with this Eagles squad.

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First off, the “up tempo” offense has sputtered for the second straight week (or we should say second time in five days) after a blistering first half against Washington. The Chiefs’ defense stymied the Eagles “up-tempo” offense. Michael Vick was never able to get into a groove Thursday. This isn’t a complete surprise, considering the opposing coach who resurrected his career (Andy Reid) knew exactly how to shut him down. Vick quickly reverted back to last year’s version of Vick, which doesn’t bode well for the Eagles moving forward if he continues to have performances like he did against Kansas City.

 

Furthermore, the Eagles truly miss Jeremy Maclin more than they would like to believe. While DeSean Jackson seems to be a great fit for Kelly’s offense, fact of the matter is that Riley Cooper and Jason Avant are your other deep threats. LeSean McCoy is becoming one of the best running backs in the NFL right before our very eyes, but it really doesn’t mean anything if Jackson constantly gets double teamed and there’s not another true, legitimate target for Vick to throw to. While rookie tight end Zach Ertz had a strong camp, it’s yet to be determined whether he can make a legitimate impact after just three games. Overall, the team had five turnovers Thursday night. No matter how bad the opposition might be (and I’m not implying the Chiefs are a bad team), there is almost a zero percent chance you can win a game in the NFL turning the ball over that many times.

 

As far as the Eagles’ defense goes, it would be hard pressed to find almost anyone on the roster who would start on another NFL team with the exception Cary Williams. As banged up as RG3 was/is, he still managed to get Washington 20 points in a half. Moreover, they made Philip Rivers practically look like Joe Montana in their loss to San Diego last Sunday. The team (including defensive end Vinny Curry) did show somewhat of an improvement against the Chiefs, but Kansas City’s time of possession was almost as twice as long as the Eagles’ (the Birds’ turnovers greatly contributed to this).  As a result, the Birds’ D had nothing by the time the Chiefs completed their 15-play, 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter, which resulted in a field goal. If you think the first three weeks or so were a nightmare, just wait until Peyton Manning and the Broncos tear them apart next Sunday. Manning is probably drooling over this as we speak.

 

And it’s not just the players that need to brush up on things. In some circumstances, it’s Kelly as well. Kelly’s failure to call a timeout may have cost the Eagles the game against the Chargers, and many are still trying to wrap their heads around the fact that he called for a two point conversion during Thursday’s loss to the Chiefs when the extra point would’ve been just fine at that point in the game. Like his team, Kelly is learning the ropes right along with them. He’s smart enough to adjust, but don’t be surprised if similar situations arise this season that are similar to the ones over the last several games.

 

 

Bottom line:

 

Dick Vermeil went 4-10 and 5-9 during his first two seasons coaching the Eagles in 1976 and 1977, respectively. Buddy Ryan’s Eagles went 5-10 and 7-8 in his first two seasons. Although his Eagles team’s ascension was quicker, Andy Reid went 5-11 in his first season after taking the reigns from Ray Rhodes in 1999. The point is, the operative word here with this Eagles team is (once again) patience.


Two things to keep an eye on are the mindset of the Eagles players as well as Kelly in the weeks that follow. Most of the players on this team have played for several underachieving Eagles squads. The players were buying into Kelly’s system, but will they continue to do so if they keep losing?

 

Kelly, for one, is not used to losing. His record during his four years at Oregon was 46-7. Chances are the Eagles could lose more than seven games this year alone. Kelly has to keep the morale high on this team while remaining positive for his own well-being.

 

There’s going to be some rough spots along the way with the Eagles. Just remember how rough it was in the beginning for the coaches listed above.

 

And remember how awesome it was when things started turning around.

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Thumbnail: OregonLive.com

Photo: CBSSports.com