Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tackleJason Peters
(71) on the bench during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Eagles Future: It’s A Matter Of Trust
The lyrics from Billy Joel’s A Matter Of Trust song states:
I can’t offer you proof
But you’re gonna face a moment of truth
It’s hard when you’re always afraid
You just recover when another belief is betrayed…
You can’t go the distance
With too much resistance
I know you have doubts
But for God’s sake don’t shut me out…
This time you’ve got nothing to lose
You can take it, you can leave it
Whatever you choose
So when the Eagles sit at 3-1 yet fans are unhappy, what does that say about the team? What does that say about the Eagles future? Haven’t they won games? Haven’t they come through in the clutch? Haven’t they turned those frowns upside down in the waning moments of their first three games? Yes to all. But the Eagles fanbase is not euphoric. It’s a fan base that is a black belt in the art of NFL quality. They are PhD’d in “how to lose an NFL game creatively”. We’ve seen offenses that couldn’t move the ball, defenses that couldn’t stop the opposing team from doing so. We’ve been snake bit at the goal line and we’ve watched NFL quarterbacks resuscitate their careers at our expense. We’ve had our share of the good, the bad, and the ugly…
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And that is why the rocky road being traveled on by the Philadelphia Eagles offense and defense is so tough to watch. In a season of higher expectations, and with an offense that is now down by 4 offensive linemen, it continues to be the offense that comes in for the rescue at the last minute. Yes, on each comeback trail the defense has had to find the resolve to stop the other team from scoring in response, but the scores have not shown much of that defensive resolve. And on a Sunday with the least amount to make up, the offense never showed up. Nada. Out of gas at the two yard line. Special teams have contributed well, with newcomer kicker Jody Parkey already on record for kicking a game winner in Indianapolis. Returns by Chris Polk and by Darren Sproles have resulted in points. But the team is not in synch. When the offense shows up, the defense misses the bus. When the defense finally showed up, the offense never got off the plane.
In the loss to a very good San Francisco 49ers team, the Eagles simply watched their duct tape line begin to show the wear and tear of an offensive line playing out of their normal position and in a group of unfamiliar faces. The offensive line could not get a running game going, and made passing the ball dangerous as well. Without protection, Foles found himself taking huge gambles in the passing game. The result? Two interceptions. Complicating the matter more were the fumbles of wide receiver Riley Cooper and tight end Zach Ertz. Four turnovers. Still, the Eagles were in this game. If they can stop turning the ball over, it’s a different game. Trust me.
After the game, Chip Kelly was spot on with his assessment.
"“When you play against a front like that, with [defensive end] Justin Smith, one of the best players in the game, and [linebacker] Patrick Willis, [defensive tackle] Ian Williams, [defensive end Ray] McDonald, that group – we got beat. And when your front can stop the run game and generate a pass rush, then you can sit back and play zone and not give up a lot of big plays, and that’s kind of been their M.O. They played a lot of zone, which we hadn’t seen a lot of. They cushioned back and played a lot of zone, and they generated a pass rush with just four guys. A couple of times Nick was getting hit at the top of his drop. I think the one interception he was getting hit so he underthrew it. It causes him to not get enough on the ball. A couple of times it looked like something was going to develop in the pass game, but he couldn’t set his feet, couldn’t throw the ball in time.” – Chip Kelly post game"
The Eagles defense appears to be stuck in the 2013 loop of neutralizing one aspect of their competition’s offense. If they take out the passing game, they seem to give up huge chunks of yardage to average running backs. If they take out the running game, they seem to give up huge chunks of yardage to average quarterbacks and receivers. The offense seems to be waiting for some big player to show up and take over. One week it was Darren Sproles. One week it’s Jeremy Maclin. But this week is was neither. It’s a problem. And problems are not sitting well with this Eagles fan-base. Not this year. Not with higher expectations. Not with hopes for post season success.
It’s a matter of trust.