All offseason long, there was much discussion and debate over the Philadelphia Eagles decision to lure Chip Kelly from Oregon to South Philly.
Would his offense translate?
Could he bring the right players and staff in to right the Philly ship?
These questions, and so many more, dominated Philly sports talk since the day Kelly changed his mind and took Jeff Lurie’s offer to replace Andy Reid, Yes, we have seen a sampling of Chip Kelly in August action, but as good as the team had looked at times, there’s the quick disclaimer: these are just pre-season games, they mean very little. While that may be true, Eagles fans saw a glimmer of hope, a cause for optimism over the four dress rehersals. And on Monday night, when the statistics and the wins and losses count, Kelly and this new-look Eagles team came out and impressed. If their intent was to resoundingly answer all critics and naysayers, then it was mission accomplished.
Take in some of these impressive figures:
In just one half of football, LeSean McCoy became the leading rusher in the NFL Week 1. One half (with SD/Houston still to come).
In the first half, the Eagles had run three times as many plays as the Redskins.
And, showing that the changes were not all on offense, the Eagles-a team with only 13 takeaways all season last year, had 2 out of the first two drives on Monday night.
OK, fine. You want to settle the excited Eagles fans down? Fine. It is just one game, they have 15 left to play. They did, at times, look sloppy. They took a few bad penalties, and could have taken at least another one (looking right at you, DeSean Jackson). Not to mention, at one point in the first half, the Redskins were their own worst enemy and the Eagles should have put more points on the board. In other words, while the stats and the win are impressive to get the Chip Kelly era off to a bang, there is plenty of room for improvements. Kelly, a man who lives, eats and sleeps football will absolutely notice those flaws and work feverishly to fix those, rather than being satisfied with a game in which the majority of prognosticators had expected to have a similar outcome, just with the Redskins on top. Yes, by the end of the game, the Redskins finally showed some life and responded by putting some drives together and keeping the ball out of the Eagles hands. A key Eagle fumbled didn’t hurt things, but at the end of the day, the Eagles did enough for the W.
Over the course of the season, it’s still not unreasonable to expect these Eagles to fall back down to reality just a bit. The truth of the matter is that this is year one of the Chip Kelly Project. They are in the process of transitioning to a 3-4 base defense. There are still a number of holdovers from the Andy Reid tenure. That’s not to say Reid didn’t ever draft or acquire anyone worth holding onto-he did. But with new coaches inevitably come new players and schemes, and those changes just generally take more than one offseason. But make no mistake about it. Even if their record at the end of the season puts them at the bottom of the NFC East, they will have gotten there being far more exciting than any team in transition probably had business being. But if the defense can keep pace with this electric offense, the record at season’s end is likely going to surprise a lot of people.
There is plenty of work to be done, but one thing is for sure. There’s a very slim chance any Eagles game this year is dull.