Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp:
We’re From Philly And We Fight! Each Other
It could be the pent up excitement of finally getting back to the football field. It might be the frustration of the way the New Orleans Saints pulled the plug on the hopes of the Eagles in the 2013 home playoff loss. It could even be the awareness that the USS “CHIPPAH” has 53 seats, and with 90 players all vying for a cabin on the ocean liner, there is bound to be some pushing and shoving.
We get it. After all, we ARE the fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, infamous for scuffles, skirmishes, and snowballing santas thanks to a national media hellbent on selling advertisement with catchy “Philadelphia fans (enter some unspeakable act here) again!”
On the offense, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy were both provoked by agressive defense by cornerback Bradley Fletcher and outside linebacker Trent Cole respectively. Just to reassure everyone, pads came on and these feisty Philly moments were more excitement than anything.
Now before you start listening for sirens, or scanning the injury reports for Eagles players with busted hands or concussions, I just want to remind you that no Eagles player is named Ernie Sims. It’s a safe bet that Chip Kelly and the coaching staff are wise enough not to turn ‘training camp thunder SIMulator” loose, but watch it vanish when real NFL plays are run.
In fact, the level of emotions in this team are one of the best indicators for a good season I’ve seen in many years. Huh? What’s that I say….? Yes, and with good reason.
For years, the Philadelphia Eagles reminded me of a team that had been a victim of some rampant NFL vampire. Games were played mechanically. The team rolled out of the bus and showed up on the field and seemed to roll back onto the bus regardless of the way the game turned out. As a fan, we suffered alongside our team when players called out our players, accusing them of quitting, of just showing up for a paycheck. Each week we saw players pull up instead of tackling through the ball carrier. And in 2011 and in 2012, we saw losses pile up uncontrollably.
In 2013 that all changed. With the arrival of Chip Kelly, the Eagles became a smarter team. Fundamentally sound, quick on the draw. With the new regime, Chip actually believes that his team is better than your team and dares you to prove him wrong. How did that work out for him? Well, from basement to penthouse in the NFC East, while half the season flew by before the defense began to understand the defensive scheme.
One of the risks of this new “cerebral assassin” method was that issue about the NFL vampire. When fans have watched in horror as their team loses and players walk away in the “for who? for what?” manner, the pain is doubled.
The final three games played in the 2013 season set the stage for these Philadelphia Eagles. In the Minnesota Vikings game, Kelly was put to task by media who wondered why Chip Kelly would risk injury to his players by putting starters into a game which could mean virtually nothing in the grand scheme of the NFC East division rankings. In a simple “We’re from Philadelphia and we fight!” statement, a curse was broken. The memory and fear of a listless team showing up because the NFL schedule said it had to evaporated as soon as the words left Chip’s mouth. Despite losing the game to the Vikings badly, the logic behind Kelly’s reasoning was sound.