Philadelphia Eagles: Opening loss disappointing but not shocking


On Monday night, many Philadelphia Eagles fans–myself included–led with their heart instead of their head.

ALSO ON SPINZONE: An Unpredictable Eagles Season Awaits 

Before the pregame coin was even tossed, the contest was marked in ink as a “W” in the standings. Bleeding Green Die Hards were already discussing plans to annihilate the suddenly Dez Bryant-free Dallas Cowboys the following week.

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The preseason hangover had yet to begin, mainly because we were still consuming mass amounts of the intoxicating aftermath.

But a not-so-funny thing happened on the road to victory: The wrong birds took flight.

As a result, many Eagles fans left watching the team’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons (recapped here by the AP’s Paul Newberry) feeling shocked and disappointed.

The disappointment is understandable. It came at the hands of a squad that clearly has less talent and far fewer expectations. Plus, the defeat was a team effort, with plenty of blame to go around. For example:

Sam Bradford. Perhaps he did need some more reps during the preseason. Even with a much-improved second half, Bradford looked shaky throughout the game. His throws were too often off the mark and, for the ones which were accurate, he telegraphed them to the receivers. I mean, blatantly stared them down beforehand. May as well have pointed to his intended target upon getting to the line.

Cody Parkey. He obviously needed some additional reps in the preseason, too. And although a 44-yard field goal is never a gimme, it also wasn’t close. That plus some struggles putting the ball deep into the endzone on kickoffs in a dome raise some lingering injury concerns.

Malcom Jenkins. It was a roller coaster night for the veteran safety. Had two potential interceptions literally bounce off his hands; at least one that likely would have been returned for a touchdown. Also looked out of place (as most of the secondary did all night) playing the nickel corner.

Jason Kelce. The normally reliable center did not seem…well, centered. He badly whiffed on a screen block in addition to a couple costly holding calls. In fact, the entire offensive line would probably like to have a mulligan on this one.

Jordan Matthews. A great game statistically, but you can’t have drops like that, especially in crucial moments of the contest.

Bill Davis. The defense looked lost and unprepared for much of the night. The strength of the squad – the front seven – created very little pressure, allowing Matt Ryan to feel comfortable in the pocket. Julio Jones schooled the secondary and in-game adjustments were lacking.

In hindsight, though, the result wasn’t as shocking as many of us figured it to be. One reason is that the main culprit was likely the architect of the roster that ultimately fell short: Chip Kelly.

Be it a surprising dearth of discipline (10 accepted penalties for 88 yards), neglecting a highly-touted running attack early on (just 16 carries as opposed to 52 pass attempts), or some questionable calls (such as running out the kicker at the tail end of the game instead of going for it on 4th and 1), Kelly simply got outcoached and at times reminded us of a previous husky redhead who used to roam the sidelines for the Birds.

And there may be a disturbing trend taking place. Yes, Kelly had won his prior two season openers. But the first required the team to hang on at the end for dear life against the lowly Washington Redskins and the second required an epic comeback after trailing 17-0 against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.

To be fair, it’s also a lot to ask of two first units with so much turnover that spent so little in-game time on the field together to play a Monday night game on the road and instantly gel.

Plus, give credit where credit is due for the Falcons, who did in fact help the Eagles beat the Eagles. Rookie head coach Dan Quinn had his guys ready and fired up. The defensive line created havoc. Matt Ryan was solid. Julio Jones did Julio Jones-type things.

Therefore, in hindsight, the loss to the Falcons was certainly disappointing, but not so shocking. And if Kelly and his Eagles can learn from it in time for its showdown against Dallas, we can all step away from the panic button and keep our hopes flying high.

But if not? Prepare for a lot of shock and disappointment hovering around the Philly area for a while. More than usual.

Next: It's Chip's Team Now

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