What more could Eagles fans have asked for? Well, some. The Eagles nearly relinquished a 33-7 second half lead. Michael Vick took more hits than one would like and was noticeably limping by the end of the game. The offense all but stalled after a spectacular LeSean McCoy touchdown run early in the 3rd quarter. Several second-half drives were killed by penalties that simply cannot continue.
But for a team that was expected by ESPN the Magazine to lose this game 41-0, not too bad.
A win to kick off the Chip Kelly era and a strong, uplifting 1-0 start (not last year’s narrow escape in the opener in Cleveland) made fans, coaches, and players jubilant. There are countless positive things to say about this game. The offense started fast and furious, ending up with 24 first-half points (2 more on a safety). Aside from taking a few too many hits, Michael Vick was phenomenal. LeSean McCoy had a career game, the first of many explosive ones for him. DeSean Jackson was back to his Pro Bowl form of 2009 and 2010. Last but not least, the defense surprised almost everybody by completely shutting down the Redskins in the first half. They were stout, confident, and opportunistic. All four linebackers: Ryan, Kendricks, Cole, and Barwin, played lights out. For the first three quarters, the Eagles flat out embarassed the Redskins on their home turf.
Many fans, including myself, were able to exhale following this game. After so much anticipation of something so unknown, the Eagles treated their fans to a performance not seen at all in 2012. For the first time in what seems like forever, I personally cannot wait for the next game, the home opener vs. San Diego this Sunday. There is a buzz around the team, and everyone is excited to see what happens next. The questions on everyone’s minds are about whether this torrid offensive (and even defensive) pace can continue.
They say once is a fluke, twice is a trend, three times a habit. While the Eagles certainly hope this particular “once” isn’t a fluke, it is far too early to jump the gun and deem the Eagles a playoff team. If they can repeat Monday’s performance in this Sunday’s game vs. San Diego, then vs. Kansas City, and again vs. a bona fide Super Bowl contender in Denver, then let’s talk. It is very possible that this is a terrific Eagles team. However, it is also fair to wonder whether the amount of plays Kelly runs will take its toll physically on the team. It is fair to wonder whether the defense can repeat Monday night’s effort after a shaky preseason. It is fair to wonder if Vick can stay healthy to keep the offense performing at this high a level. It is also fair to wonder if opposing defenses will catch up to Kelly and his system.
To say the least, it’s early. Last year the Eagles started 2-0, then 3-1. Look how that turned out. Hope, excitement, and anticipation are through the roof. However, for now, it must be tempered. Enjoy the ride, this season is going to be fun to watch unfold. For the next few weeks just take in the action, enjoy the unique situation the Eagles are in, and pray for wins along the way. There is a very likely chance the Eagles are a team to be reckoned with.
This week, it’s all about beating San Diego and getting to 2-0. The Chargers are traveling cross-country on a short week after collapsing vs. Houston on Monday night. For the Eagles, the Chargers are very beatable, especially at home in a much-anticipated home opener. There have been countless questions about players buying into a coach who never coached or played in the NFL prior to this year. I stated in an earlier post that the most effective way to get players to buy into a program is to win games. Chip Kelly is off to a fantastic start in that regard. Now it is time to stay humble and keep winning.
2013 is bound to be an incredible and entertaining ride. Where it ends up, nobody knows. Truly anything is possible, and that reality has fans boundlessly excited. San Diego is next on the list and cannot be overlooked. The focus is not on Week 3, Andy Reid, and the Chiefs nor is it on Week 4 and Peyton Manning. 2-0 is the next stop on the Kelly train.
Prediction: Eagles 26, Chargers 19.