Great Expectations is the name of a KISS song. I think it also might be a Chuck Dickens story. And they are a point of discussion in relation to this Eagles team.
I’ve said all year that this is a flawed, but talented team. That was the case at 1-0, 3-5 and 8-5. Any time you have a new coach, there are going to be some weak spots. He won’t have the personnel just the way he wants them. Players will still be adapting to his way of doing things, as well as the new schemes. And in this case, the coach is learning about life in the NFL.
The Eagles offense is good enough to score on anyone. The defense is bad enough to give up points to anyone. I don’t know what the ceiling for this team is since they haven’t been tested by a top team in a long time. Clearly the Eagles can lose to anyone that has a functional QB.
If the Eagles played in another division, they might be out of the race or would be needing substantial help. Since the NFC East is down, the Eagles are able to sit atop the standings despite being a flawed team. The Carolina Panthers are 10-4 and in 2nd place. That’s just bad luck. In 1991, the 10-6 Eagles sat at home in the playoffs while the 8-8 Jets went to the postseason.
I hope most Eagles fans can see this team has its issues and they keep expectations realistic. The Eagles can still end up with the #3 seed in the NFC, but I don’t think many people would argue the Eagles are the #3 team in the conference. SEA, SF, NO and CAR all look better.
Let’s enjoy this team for what it is…a talented and flawed group.
That’s not to say we should ignore the team playing like crap as they did on Sunday, but let’s also not act like this is such a good team that we can expect them to play at a high level each week. Heck, few teams do that. Look across the NFL landscape yesterday. Upsets galore.
I’ve got 2 more games to watch this team. I think they’ll win the division. We’ll assess the playoffs when that rolls around, but my mindset will be to enjoy them rather that talking myself into an Eagles Super Bowl run and building up crazy expectations. If something more happens, great. Just don’t count on it.
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Let’s also talk about expectations with Nick Foles. Some of you didn’t like my criticism of him after yesterday.
I don’t expect Foles to be perfect. I’m judging him according to his skills and his performance. If he’s got a clean pocket and an open receiver, I expect him to make that throw. So does Chip Kelly. And Pat Shurmur. And Bill Lazor. And Nick himself.
There are good incompletions in a game. There are times when it is smart to take a sack. I give Foles credit when he does these things.
I praise him when he makes great plays.
I’m also going to be hard on him when he doesn’t play well enough. Foles put up big numbers on Sunday, but he made too many mistakes to call it a good game. He might have gotten away with yesterday’s performance if his opponent, Matt Cassel, didn’t play so well. Cassel had a great game. That put extra pressure on Foles and the Eagles offense. They didn’t deliver.
Nick still leads the NFL in QB rating. He’s still having a terrific season. He’s playing well. But part of the challenge for a guy like him is trying to be great. I think Nick understands this. I’m sure he’s watched off-target passes to Cooper and Avant from yesterday more than he has his big plays to DeSean. Part of what makes Nick such a good player is that he does want to be great. He’s going to be hard on himself.
I’m keeping my expectations for Foles high, but reasonable. I’ll never hold him accountable for something he can’t physically do. Yesterday’s mistakes are the kind he can correct. Nick needs to do that with a couple of more porous defenses coming up.