06 January 2014

Future's So Bright

Eagles 24, Saints 26, Saturday, January 4, 2013 

Let's get this out of the way right here. One, unless your team wins the Super Bowl, your season will end in disappointment. And if you say you think the Eagles were going to win the Super Bowl this year, I *know* you're lying. Two, when teams are pretty evenly matched, Vegas usually has the home team by 3. The betting line prior to Saturday night was Eagles by 2.5. This game was going to come down to whoever had the ball last, and the Eagles drew the short straw. Three, it sucks beyond belief to lose a home playoff game. Still, SO much better than expected this year.

Stud of the Week: Chip Kelly. I was not a fan of his hiring. College coach hires are fraught with peril.
More of those guys don't work out than do. I wanted Lovie Smith. I'll admit I was wrong. Chip's got the team playing well, playing together, and believing in themselves and the man standing next to them. I'm not in there, obviously, but the locker room culture seems great. The team is executing fundamentals like taking care of the ball, creating turnovers, and tackling (well, other than some inexplicably bad tackling Saturday night) far better than they have in several years. That's on the coach, and I'm feeling solid about ours.

I know there are a couple of plays the guys wish they had back. Riley Cooper getting so excited about all that green in front of him that he forgot to catch the ball. Nick Foles taking the sack that forced Alex Henery to try - and miss - a 48 yarder. Roc Carmichael's bone-headed kicking a punt nearly downed by Brandon Boykin on the 2 into the endzone. Cary Williams seeing only Alex Henery between Darren Sproles and the end zone, realizing Henery is no David Akers, and reacting by taking the penalty to stop Sproles however he could, when it might have been smarter, on reflection, to let Sproles score and get the ball back. The defense's sudden inability to stop the run. Signing Patrick Chung in the off season. So many things you wish they could do over.

But if you step back for a minute, you'll realize that the future looks great for this team. We seem to have the coaching situation figured out. It remains to be seen whether Nick Foles is more RGII (great first year as the full time starter, terrible second year, suspect future) or Donovan McNabb (great first year as the full time starter followed by four NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl), but we may have the QB situation figured out. Chip and Nick still need to keep improving, innovating, and developing, but I think the core is there. The front office has done a great job in the draft recently, particularly in 2012 (thanks for one last gift, Big Red), leaving the team young, talented, and just needing some experience. Well, and an upgrade at defensive secondary and potentially kicker (as an aside, I don't blame Henery for the missed 48 yarder. That's not automatic for anyone. I blame him for a season's worth of poor kick offs, including the back breaker Saturday night that started the Saints last possession).  Special teams still needs work - their punt coverage has generally been excellent, but the return game is just sad. DeSean Jackson needs more touches next year. There are plenty of holes, and lots of room to improve.

In the meantime, the Giants are old and are headed by a quarterback and coaching staff who seem to be on the decline. And the Redskins' and Cowboys' meddling owners have led to teams that are a circus (Redskins) or a punchline (Cowboys). That bodes well for the Eagles' playoff chances in the coming years, assuming they can build on what they started this year. And it feels to me like they will.

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