A couple of months back (I swear, it was only a couple of months), the talk in Philadelphia was about how Chip Kelly had lost it. He was making very questionable moves with his personnel, sending his best players elsewhere. We began to think he was crazy. Now, after seeing in preseason what he had put together on the field, we are looking forward to a very good year.
— History —
Like every good bandwagon-jumping fan, I came on board during the good times. It was 1979, and Dick Vermeil was coach, Ron Jaworski quarterback. These guys would lead the team to a Super Bowl (okay, they lost), along with players who would become Philadelphia legends (even though they lost). It seemed that the best the Eagles could do was get TO the Super Bowl.
Dick Vermeil gave way to Marion Campbell, and I must have slept through those years. Nothing worth remembering. But…
To shake things up, there was Buddy Ryan. He was FUN, putting together a defense for the ages. Never won anything, but at least it was entertainment. Ron Jaworski gave way to Randall Cunningham, a man with tons of talent and no offensive coaching to speak of. Never won anything, but he was damned entertaining.
Buddy Ryan gave way to Richie Kotite (Richie the K), who was nothing but annoying. He never won anything AND he was annoying. In his last year, the team lay down like dogs, and I wanted Richie AND everyone who played for him gone.
Be careful what you wish for, because in came Ray Rhodes and talk of sodomy. Yeah, Ray had a couple of winning years and the fans gave him the key to the city. He could have been mayor of Philadelphia, if he’d wanted that. But then the losing came, and Ray’s coaching style began to stink. Ray went from Coach of the Year in 1995 to Out the Door in 1998. Then came…
Andy Reid. The winningest, bestest damn coach in Eagles history (Eagles NFL history, that is). Andy, too, took the Eagles to the Super Bowl (and LOST), after an historic string of four straight NFC Championship games (three LOST, one WON). We had never seen such success in our football team in the modern era (yeah, yeah, Champions in 1960, but you’d have to be, like, 70 to even remember such a thing). We had a glimpse of the Promised Land, before the long, slow decline into irrelevance. Andy set the bar awful high, but in the end couldn’t get over that bar himself. It seemed, eventually, that Andy had lost the team, and Andy, too, had to go.
— end History —
Enter Chip Kelly. Kelly is now in his third year, has caused a great amount of turnover on the Eagles squad, and has assembled what is arguably “Kelly’s team.” After a rough offseason (rough for the fans), and after a surprising preseason (yes, I know, preseason), this team looks poised to improve upon Kelly’s first two years. And I do mean improve.
Kelly dumped DeSean Jackson. Were the Eagles receiving corps better then, or are they better now? Kelly showed LeSean McCoy the door. Were the Eagles running backs better then, or are they better now? The offense, IMO, is much improved, and the offense didn’t exactly stink before!
So, here’s how I see the 2015 season ahead of us.
The Eagles play only five teams this year that had a winning record last year. The rest are really bad, I mean awful, teams and the Eagles should beat them all (that would be 10 wins right there) –
Tampa Bay BUCCANEERS 2-14
New York JETS 4-12
Washington REDSKINS 4-12
New York GIANTS 6-10
Carolina PANTHERS 7-8-1
Atlanta FALCONS 7-9
New Orleans SAINTS 7-9
Miami DOLPHINS 8-8
I throw a loss to the Saints, who play tough in New Orleans, because the Eagles should be coasting on autopilot when they head down to NOLA. A wake-up game.
Then, three “good” teams, all of whom the Eagles should beat –
Buffalo BILLS 9-7 (The McCoy Reunion game, smackdown)
Detroit LIONS 11-5 (We love picking on those Lions)
Arizona CARDINALS 11-5 (Here in Philly in late December)
That leaves the “powerhouse” teams, the fraud Cowboys and the for-real Patriots –
New England PATRIOTS 12-4
Dallas (sucks) COWBOYS 12-4
We split with Dallas (sucks) (the Cowboys are a little worse this year, the Eagles a little better, and Dallas still has a Tony Romo problem) and lose to the Patriots.
The Eagles have no problem scoring points, and should now score even MORE points, whether it’s Bradford or Sanchez behind center. Our weakness was our defense, specifically the corners and safeties who were royally exposed. Assuming the run and pass defense improves over last year (as it should), the Eagles should be able to hold opponents’ scoring down below the Eagles’ own 30+ average.
I see 13 – 3, with the division title and home field advantage.
If I’m off by one (I can see losing in Detroit on a very short week), 12 -4 gets the division title but may not guarantee home field. Even if I’m off by two (and I don’t think I am), it’s still a bit of an improvement in Kelly’s third year, and the future is still looking good.
Time to put the seatbelt back on my La-Z-Boy.