The Eagles are off to a 3-1 start, but it is hard to get a read on the team because of the uneven play so far this year.
If you go watch Eagles Live on PE.com, Dave Spadaro gets all fired up when fans say anything negative after a win. His thing is to focus on the result. Enjoy the win. Give the team a chance to get better.
The great Reuben Frank on Twitter has gotten frustrated with fans who pick over the Eagles issues rather than focusing on the 3-1 record.
There are some out there who think 3-1 is meaningless because the Eagles have been “lucky” or something to that effect. They focus on the Arizona game as the true sign of how troubled this team is.
I’m stuck in the middle. 3-1 is great. Last year we were 1-3 and I was miserable. That said, style points do start to matter as the season moves along. Let’s look at recent Super Bowl teams.
2008 – The Steelers started 3-1.
PIT 38 , HOU 17
PIT 10 , CLE 6
PHI 15 , PIT 6
PIT 23 , BAL 20 – OT
2009 – The Saints started 4-0.
NO 45 , DET 27
NO 48 , PHI 22
NO 27 , BUF 7
NO 24 , NYJ 10
2010 – The Packers started 3-1.
GB 27 , PHI 20
GB 34 , BUF 7
CHI 20 , GB 17
GB 28 , DET 26
2011 – The Giants started 3-1.
WAS 28 , NYG 14
NYG 28 , STL 16
NYG 29 , PHI 16
NYG 31 , ARZ 27
How does the Eagles start to 2012 compare to those? Well, first off…those team all had at least one blow out win over a clearly inferior opponent. We had that chance with the Browns, but beat them just 17-16 due to turnovers.
The only team above that lost in a blowout was the Giants. You can partially excuse that because Mike Shanahan is dominant on opening days. We lost at Arizona, by a wider margin. Now that can be “excused” by the fact the Cardinals are playing well right now (4-0) and traveling out West is never easy. Still, that was a game where we got physically dominated at times and that is troubling beyond any numbers or stats.
The optimist will like the fact the Eagles have been able to win close games against good opponents (BAL, NYG). Both wins were flawed, but they were wins. These weren’t fluky wins that turned on miracles. The Eagles made clutch plays on offense to get the go-ahead points and then the defense came out and played well enough to make the leads stand.
The one troubling thing right now is points. The Eagles have scored 17, 24, 6, and 19. That is 6 TDs in 4 games. You don’t win playoff games, let alone Super Bowls unless you can score TDs.
The good news here is that the Eagles are moving the ball. Turnovers were the issue for 3 weeks. Against the Giants, the team just slowed up against a good Red Zone defense. I fully expect the team to start scoring (although playing the Steelers on Sunday isn’t the ideal opponent to break that trend with).
I don’t think we have a good read on the Eagles quite yet. Winning is good, but it isn’t enough. You do need to accomplish certain things. A team must show the ability to blow opponents out. A team must show the ability to win close games. A team must show the ability to come from behind to win. A team must show the ability to win different styles (shootout vs defensive struggle). A team must show the ability to win on days when they don’t have their A-game.
The Eagles have done some of those things and that is what gives me hope that this team can be a Super Bowl contender. If the turnovers go away and the points start to come in, I’ll really buy in.
However, if the turnovers remain an issue and the team continues to play sloppy football, then the record won’t matter. You don’t win titles playing like that.
People love to point to last year’s Giants as an example of just getting in and then turning it on. Let’s remember a couple of things. That team was decimated by injuries. Only 6 guys on the team started all 16 games. The Giants didn’t go 9-7 because they were playing sloppy football. They were struggling to find the right mix of players due to injuries.
They got to the playoffs and faced the right set of teams. ATL has a weak OL. Same for GB. The Niners offense just couldn’t do anything and then muffed 2 punts. On to the Super Bowl where the Pats OL can’t handle the Giants DL. You cannot count on that many favorable matchups. The 2011 Giants were a Super Bowl anomaly. I’m not saying that to diminish their title. You just don’t look at that group for how to build a title team. Study the other recent champs and you’ll see more realistic trends. If there is one thing to take from the Giants, if you have a QB and good pass rush…you’ve got a chance.
So what do you fans think of the 3-1 Eagles? Are you buying this team as a SB contender or do you see them as unproven or do some of you even feel they are a pretender?
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I’ll start talking about the Steelers game tonight. This is going to be a real interesting matchup.
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Jimmy Bama and I did a podcast reviewing the win over the Giants. We also discussed Laveranues Coles and Laverne & Shirley. True internet greatness.