Many factors need to come together for a team to succeed over a 16-game season, carry them into the postseason, and ultimately help them hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February. The Philadelphia Eagles came into the 2013 season as the NFC East underdogs – a new coach taking the helm after a 14-year Andy Reid run ended with back-to-back disappointing seasons. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly brought his high-powered Oregon offense, and unorthodox football philosophies into a fractured Eagles locker room. With the hope that within a few years, the team could become a championship contender once again.
Fortunately for us fans, the transition happened a lot faster than we expected. The Eagles embraced the concept of “adaptability” and pulled together as one cohesive team. The first few weeks of the season were the expected roller coaster, where the offense carried the team, as the defense figured out its identity. Add in a thumping at the hands of the Denver Broncos, an injury to star quarterback Michael Vick, and you had the beginnings of what could have turned into a disappointing rookie season for Kelly. But much like Rocky Balboa, the Eagles took their shots and fought back. This season, they quickly learned to adapt to the conditions, to their opponents, and to the situations presented them.
Take a lead early in the game and make the opponent play from behind – CHECK!
Balance the running and passing games to keep the opposing defense honest – CHECK!
Hold opposing offenses to 21 points or less – CHECK!
Come back from a deficit and win a game in the 4th Quarter – CHECK!
Adjust to the loss of a mobile quarterback, and adjust the offense to take advantage of a different signal caller – CHECK!
Figure out a way to win in a freak snowstorm – CHECK!
Looking at that short list of accomplishments, it’s tough to expect any team to accomplish all that in a little over 2 months. Let alone one with so much change going on. But the Eagles did it! And here they are 8-5, ready to make the final stretch run to the playoffs. Some people have said that from here on out, anything they do is gravy. I prefer to think that this team sees the opportunity in a weak division, and sees a window of opportunity to be the contenders not many thought they would. The bar has been raised in Philadelphia. It’s up to this team to take advantage of it and adapt to what undoubtedly be more changes to come. And maybe, just maybe, stand on the field in February at MetLife Stadium with their hands held high!