If I wrote this on Thursday night, this piece on the forecast of the Philadelphia Eagles would most assuredly have a tone of futility and despair.
If I wrote this the following day, it would likely take on a vibe of moderate depression.
Saturday, it would have leaned toward general ambivalence.
Instead, a few days of introspection has provided perspective, as well as a sliver of optimism—not a common element in this town lately, a place where the valleys always seem to historically envelop the fleeting moments of peaks.
After a near-flawless first half against the Washington Redskins in their season opener, the Eagles have regressed from outright dominant to inconsistent to downright putrid in a matter of just a week-and-a-half. The Chip Kelly Honeymoon has officially ended, and practically every player sans perhaps LeSean McCoy can assume some liability for the collective freefall.
Coming off a career-best passing display four days earlier, Michael Vick had arguably one of his worst efforts, completing just 13 of his 30 passes plus throwing his first two interceptions of the season, although it could have easily been four.
The man directly in front of him, Jason Kelce, was no better, as his rear end caused one fumble, his unpredictable grasp caused another and there was no telling where or how most of his other snaps would land. Kelce's linemates were also pretty dreadful, leaving Vick to run for his life (and once for 61 yards).
Plus, Andy Reid was smart enough to shadow DeSean Jackson all night because no one except perhaps his publicist is afraid of covering Riley Cooper, the head-spinning offensive scheme in general is proving to be unsustainable and the defense (and specifically the secondary)—which admittedly was put in precarious situations the entire game by its offense—has confirmed most of our fears heading into the season.
|LeSean McCoy||395 rushing yards||1st|
|DeSean Jackson||359 receiving yards||1st|
|Mychal Kendricks||27 tackles||1st|
ESPN.com (through Sept. 21)
And yet there is still hope.
There is hope because when they weren't missing tackles, the front seven at least did enough to keep the Kansas City Chiefs from capitalizing on five turnovers, stifling them repeatedly in the end zone, thus resulting in what might have been the most lopsided 10-point contest one may ever witness.
There is hope because McCoy is quickly becoming the most exciting back in the league. Not only did he get up on his own when he went down writhing in pain in the second quarter, but he came back just as dynamic as ever in the second half. In between, when word of an emotional Shady breaking down in the tunnel surfaced, "hope" was the last thing Eagles fans considered.
There is hope because Fletcher Cox looks like he'll finally break the streak of high-round defensive line duds, steady veteran Jason Avant should fill injured Jeremy Maclin's shoes admirably and outside of next week's faceoff against the Denver Broncos and later down the road the one against the Green Bay Packers, there really isn't any other matchup on the schedule where they can't at least keep things competitive.
There is also hope because they reside in the NFC East, where half the division has yet to pull off a victory, and teams aren't necessarily circling their calendars in fearful anticipation of facing the Dallas Cowboys.
Maybe the Cowboys will be legitimate contenders (though the reality of that combined with a Reid-led Chiefs team making a playoff run is kick-where-it-counts painful to imagine). Maybe the Eagles do indeed continue down the road to futility.
And maybe (and most likely), a winner-hungry town will go at least two full years without any of its local franchises mustering even something as simple as a season over .500.
But for now, hope is not lost. Amazing how a few days of time and perspective can teach us this.