Oct 5, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles fans celebrate a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Eagles fans and, well, fans of any Philadelphia sports team are a pessimistic bunch. This is what happens after years and years of not seeing your team win the ultimate prize. Those repeated failures have a cumulative effect of expecting the worst, and when the worst doesn’t happen we guard ourselves for the inevitable looming failure.
How else can we possibly explain what happened on Sunday? The Philadelphia Eagles played another exciting football game against the St. Louis Rams, winning 34-28. The special teams unit is on fire, blocking another punt and scoring a touchdown. The defense, for a majority of the game, showed us a glimpse of just how good it can be, forcing turnovers, sacking the quarterback and shutting down an opposing offense. And the Eagles’ offense finally got things going on the ground, rushing for 145 yards. A week after being shut out by the San Francisco 49ers, the offense put 20 points on the board. Before you scoff at that number, keep in mind that when a team’s defense and special teams score, it limits your offense’s time on the field, and thus that unit’s chances to score.
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There is so much to be positive about after a win – read again, a win – that moved the Eagles’ record to 4-1 overall, and yet it feels as though the media and many Philadelphia Eagles fans would rather the team had lost. Sure, the Birds were up 34-7 at one point and needed to hang on to win, but they did hang on. They did win. And 4-1 at the end of the week is a lot better than 3-2.
“We’re 4-1. Take it how you want to take it. I’ve done seen teams get into the playoffs at 8-8 and go win the Super Bowl. We’re just gonna keep fighting – one down, one to go. And at the end of the year, we’ll see where we’re at,” Peters said in the report. “Why should I be concerned? I’m gonna go to practice on Tuesday and fix my mistakes. So why be concerned? We won. I’m gonna fix what I did wrong, and the guy besides me is gonna fix what he did wrong. And we’re gonna go into the game Sunday night and play the Giants. You can’t worry about the stuff we messed up. All we can do is fix it. So why worry? We’re 4-1. Stay positive. One down, one to go.”
Oct 5, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) breaks up pass for St. Louis Rams wide receiver Austin Pettis (18) late in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Rams, 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Could the game have gone better? Absolutely. If Nick Foles doesn’t fumble on his fourth-quarter scramble, the Eagles probably add more points there, grabbing a 37-14 lead or possibly even 41-14.
And yes, the secondary showed us all why we’re deathly afraid of it. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are, on their best days, average corners, and in the fourth quarter on Sunday were not at their average best. If they get just one stop earlier in the fourth, we’re not sweating out those final plays in the last minute.
Thing is, the Eagles know all that. Based on numerous media reports, the locker room atmosphere felt like the team had lost. It knows it has plenty of work to do.
Even the worst NFL teams are pretty good and the biggest difference between them and the better teams is that on Sundays, the better teams figure out a way to win, while the poor are left wondering about what might had been. Style points simply don’t matter.
And yet, they’re 4-1, joining the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys as the only NFL teams with four victories this season. With 11 games to go, a 6-5 record would get the Eagles to 10 wins, and 10 wins typically gets you into the playoffs. That’s the goal of the regular season, to win enough games to get to the playoffs, when literally anything can happen.
Even the worst NFL teams are pretty good and the biggest difference between them and the better teams is that on Sundays, the better teams figure out a way to win, while the bad ones are left wondering about what might have been. Style points simply don’t matter.
We should worry about the running game while remembering the Eagles on Sunday rushed for 145 yards, a total they surpassed just six times in 2013.
We should worry about the defense, while remembering the unit has already forced eight turnovers this season and has played well enough for the Eagles to have won every game.
We should worry about the Eagles, while remembering they’re 4-1.
Actually, none of that sounds so bad after all. So, in the immortal words of Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry, be happy.”