Over the years, we came to expect certain things. The Eagles mostly had the Giants number in recent years. For some reason, Andy Reid knew what to do to win against them, whether a shootout or an ugly defensive battle.
We knew Tony Romo would be awesome or awful. Two of his 5 best games came against the Eagles. I prefer the other way, where 4 of his worst 8 NFL games came against the Eagles. When the defense worked, it really worked.
We knew the Eagles would have at least one horrible loss each season. Arizona 2011. Minnesota 2010. Oakland 2009. Cincinnati was just a tie in 2008, but that sure felt like a loss.
We knew the Eagles were going to win coming out of the bye week. 2012 was Reid’s only loss in that game.
We knew the offense getting to the Red Zone meant that there was likely going to be a FG in our future.
And so on.
Andy Reid is gone. His staff is gone. His systems are gone. Lots of change. This means that some of these trends will change as well.
I’d love to tell you that the changes will all be good, but that’s not reality. The goal for us is for to have the changes involve more good than bad. We want to keep being a winning team after the bye, but we want to quit losing games to bad teams every year. We want to keep beating the Giants, but we want to quit struggling in the Red Zone.
All the national media are talking about the Eagles as a mystery team. They focus on the offense, defense, QB and obvious stuff like that. As Eagles fans who know the team inside-out, we’ve got a whole other level of mystery to deal with.
Jimmy Bama and I were talking about the upcoming season the other day. We penciled in the game vs Denver as a loss. Peyton Manning has owned the Eagles in his career (3-1). The only loss came when the Colts were in a down season. But now the Eagles are going to be running an odd man front.
Last year Peyton and the Broncos lost 4 games. They lost to Atlanta, a 4-3 team run by a Mike Nolan, who mixed in some 3-4 concepts. They lost to Houston and Baltimore, 3-4 teams. They also lost to the Patriots, who are hard to classify. Maybe, just maybe, the Eagles and their new defense will give Peyton a much harder time. I still think you favor the Broncos to win, but maybe the new system gives you more of a sense of hope.
Part of the fun of having a new coach is the sense of mystery. It was interesting to see how Chip Kelly handled free agency and the draft. Some of his moves were predictable. Others caught me off guard. I didn’t see Matt Barkley as an Eagles target at all. Lesson learned.
We still have a lot to learn about Chip. Heck, Chip has a lot to learn about Chip. The NFL is a whole other world than college football. He’s never worked with this staff or coached these players.
As long as you keep your expectations realistic, 2013 should be a fun season. We’ll be watching new systems. That means that even Eagles we know very well (like Trent Cole) could look very different. There will be new players. There will be young guys that we hope are getting better. I’m sure that Chip and the players will still give us plenty to be mad about. That’s just life in the NFL.
Eagles fans were happier with Andy Reid in January 2000 than January 1999. He got the team to finish hot. He beat Dallas. And there were enough flashes from his young QB Donovan McNabb that fans got excited.
Chip Kelly is a much bigger name as he takes over the Eagles. Fans love him now. If he is more popular next January, things will be looking very good for the Eagles.
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Over the last couple of weeks we looked into some Eagles history. Some of it was good, some depressing. A few of you wondered why I would talk about some of those subjects since they were depressing.
You learn your biggest lessons in life from the toughest moments. Don’t ignore those moments. Embrace them.
Every summer, Tom Brady looks into the mirror and reminds himself that he was only a 6th round pick. That keeps him humble. That keeps him focused and driven.
Part of the joy of being an Eagles fan is that we don’t have Lombardi Trophies. I bumped into an Eagles fan yesterday at the grocery store. We just spoke for a moment, but he saw my Eagles t-shirt and made sure to say something. Being an Eagles fan means something. You didn’t choose this team for the glory.
All the tough moments through the years will make it that much sweeter when we do finally win the Super Bowl.
And until then, I’m going to keep talking about the fact that ND Kalu missed that punt vs the Rams in 2001 by inches or I’ll wonder about the 1991 team with a healthy Randall or what would have happened if…you get the point. No need to torture you on a Friday.