It takes time to win a Super Bowl.
Sean Payton and Drew Brees came together in 2006. They won in 2009. John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco joined the Ravens in 2008. They won in 2012. Aaron Rodgers was drafted in 2005, sat until 2008 and then won the SB in 2010.
Go back to Aikman-Johnson, Montana-Walsh and other classic combos. It took time.
Football is an always evolving game. I was hoping that Chip Kelly and Nick Foles might be able to buck the trend and lead us on a magical Super Bowl run right off the bat. Didn’t happen. Both guys still have growing to do. Foles must improve as a QB. Kelly must improve as a coach. And they must continue to grow together.
I don’t know how all of you feel, but this playoff loss has me feeling different than in recent years. This is the beginning of something, not a step closer to the end. As the Andy Reid era moved along, the playoff losses became more frustrating. The longer a coach goes without winning the big game, the more you feel the chances are dwindling that it will ever happen.
If you go back to 2000 and 2001, those playoff losses were hard, but also left me feeling that the team could build on them. The team did and eventually got to the Super Bowl in 2004.
There are no guarantees that the team will improve, but I believe in Kelly and Foles. They did amazing things this year. Time will tell whether this was a fluke, but I sure don’t think so. Kelly has been a dynamic offensive mind in several places. His offense set some records this year. Foles was a star in high school and college. This isn’t some small school UDFA that came out of nowhere. Foles showed serious potential as a rookie.
Defenses will adjust to Kelly and Foles, but they won’t remain stagnant themselves. Kelly will tweak his offense, as he did all year long. Foles will work to improve his game. I believe the Eagles offense is going to remain a force for the next several years.
We’ve talked about how this Eagles team compares to last year’s Skins team. There are some huge differences. Shanny and RG3 didn’t have a good relationship by the end of the 2012 season. Kelly and Foles go together like PBR and Funyuns. Also, RG3 was hurt and spent his offseason rehabbing and doing Subway commercials. Nick is healthy and probably won’t be the spokesperson for any national ad campaigns, although I could easily him pitching a new kind of athletic shoes…”If you young kids want to grow up to be a running QB like me, these are the shoes for you.”
During the offseason we’ll talk about what Kelly must do to improve. Same with Foles. Same with the defense and STs. We can celebrate the success of 2013, while also acknowledging that it wasn’t good enough. No player or coach can say “I’m good enough as is.” All of them can get better.
I do think time will be a key ingredient in improving. The schemes were new in 2013. That won’t be the case next year. The players will feel more natural in what they’re doing. Last spring the Eagles were learning how to do what the coaches wanted. This year they’ll start trying to perfect those ideas. You go from learning to improving and that makes a big difference.
There will also be a sense of cohesion. Players will get used to playing with each other within the new schemes. A lot of Kelly’s ideas involve serious movement at the line of scrimmage. That means linemen must get used to each other on both sides of the ball. The more these guys play together, the better they should execute the blocks/stunts/blitzes.
The theme in recent years was change. Jim Johnson died between 2008 and 2009. That meant a huge change on the coaching staff. Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan also got replaced. That was a huge change in the lineup.
After 2009, Donovan McNabb was dealt. That was an enormous change. Brian Westbrook left. Another huge change.
After 2010, there were lots of changes to the coaching staff and lineup.
2012 involved lots of strange changes. Many were due to injury (Peters, Kelce going out), but the crazy ones involved firing Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn during the season.
For the first time in a while…there should be a lot of stability. That’s crucial to having a successful team.
There will be plenty of changes to the roster, but in a reasonable way. The goal will be to plug some holes and to upgrade some others. There won’t have to be massive changes to deal with scheme fit.
Losing to the Saints ended a fun season. That sucks and there’s no two ways about that. But you shouldn’t be too down. This team has a lot of key pieces in place. The Eagles have a good coach and a good QB. Those are the most important parts of any championship football team. This is the beginning of a journey, not the conclusion.
Time will tell if Kelly and Foles can bring a Lombardi Trophy to Philly, but I don’t think you can argue that the Eagles are very much headed in the right direction.