Saints 26 Eagles 24
Alas, the season is no more. It doesn’t really feel any better that we went into last night’s playoff game playing with house money…any better than it was all “gravy” from here on out. The Eagles lost a winnable game.
The one thing that feels a little different about this loss, though, is the lack of bitterness. I started writing posts in October, but by then the team had dropped a couple straight and had slipped to 3-5. As is often the case, I grew a bit disheartened.
But that was before Nick Foles confounded everyone and became (for this season at least) one of the league’s best passers. Before the defense began tightening up a bit. Before the Eagles went on their 7-1 season ending run. Before Shady McCoy won the rushing title. They went from one of the clown cars of the NFC Least to a team no one wanted to tangle with in the playoffs. The last two months have gone from surprising to exhilarating.
An unfortunate, but perfectly natural, byproduct of this success is raised expectations. And those expectations ran pretty high these past couple weeks, especially when they beat Dallass in Dallass in what was essentially an NFC East playoff game. As much as you reel yourself in and say that the season has been a success even without a playoff victory, that last lose hit’s you cold and hard.
But a bit of perspective. Chip Kelly arrived from Oregon and brought with him a radical new way of game planning, calling and preparation. I’m not going to say he brought a new offense with him because, as my brother said recently, he changes things up game to game. Like a certain coach in the New England area who it would be a massive stretch in these early days to compare Kelly with. The defense switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and struggled mightily at the start of the year. And while yesterday hurts, one can’t help come away from 2013-2014 thinking that a pretty good foundation has been laid.
A little about the game itself. The Eagles certainly left points on the board and misfired on a couple key plays (which, during playoff time, is more than enough to lose you a game). What was missing, though…what I kept waiting for…was the huge gaffe. The big mistake not ready for prime time teams who find themselves in the playoffs usually make. The Saints simply ran the ball down the Eagles’ throats. The Saints executed their game plan and the Eagles were unable to stop it.
But the thing was close and the Eagles did not roll over when they went down by two scores. I’m not really one for proclaiming moral victory, but for a young team in a new system with new coaches playing above expectations, I’ll take one here.
The off season will be interesting. I’d like the University of Texas to name a new coach soon and would really like that new coach not to be named Chip Kelly. I haven’t heard anything about the who might get the Texas job which makes me afraid they are targeting Kelly. But that’s what worries me. For a high profile coaching slot to go that long without being filled..and absolutely no chatter about it. Is Austin waiting for Kelly to exit the playoffs? Don’t know. I’m 90% sure that Chip Kelly is with the the Eagles for a long time. But that 10%….
The rest of the NFL now has a book on Chip Kelly and Nick Foles and will adjust accordingly. I can’t wait to see how the Eagles adjust to those adjustments. I’m hoping the Eagles firm up the defense during free agency and the draft. Sometimes I still can’t believe the team got as far as it did with who we’ve got at safety.
The rest of the playoffs…the Olympics…winter and springtime with NASCAR and then we’re back in the hunt. We lost, yes, but it was a good time and it’s soooo good to be excited about Eagles football again.