Monday, December 30, 2013

The Eagles Make Their Greatest Chip Kelly Escape Yet

Fly Eagles Fly
All week long, as I tried not tho think about just how awful it would be if my Eagles lost to the annual fraud that is the Dallas Cowboys, it ate at me. How there was no way the game would, or should, be close. Philly was healthy, 6-1 in their last seven games, 7-point road favorites for cause. Everyone in town thought it would be a blowout, even though we had all made the same mistake two weeks ago against Minnesota.

And all I could think of was how much it would suck if Dallas won anyway. Remember, these frauds have one playoff win in the century, and it came against my laundry. (We will not speak of that game again.)

Then the game started, and it all seemed OK; 10-0 to start with the ball in their hands, very real chance of getting the kill shot and big early lead against a game manger level back up QB. It very nearly all went sideways from there, despite winning the turnover battle; Dallas certainly got the better of the officiating tonight. The bad secondary of open center slants came back with an awful vengeance, giving Kyle Orton clear lanes to throw for just south of 400 yards. DeMarco Murray kept running through people. The defense kept points off the board, and occasionally made turnover plays or stops, but they inspired no confidence. On a fourth down killshot opportunity, defensive coordinator Billy Davis somehow dialed up an irresponsible blitz against a QB that had murdered them all night, and left his worst DB alone against Dallas's best WR. They recovered enough to stop the tying 2-point conversion on a great deflection from CB Cary Williams, but that seemed more like luck, or the moment that would convince them to play cautiously with the ball on their next possession, rather than go out and win it.

And when the offense failed to kill the clock, and punted, that shaky unit was defending a 2-point lead late. I knew how this was going to end: crosses to Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, yards after catch, Murray converting a clock-killing first down, and Dan Bailey making a chip shot field goal as the clock ended and Dallas finally, finally, finally, came through in Week 17 in a win and in game. Cris Collingsworth would rip off his jacket to show his Cowboy pasties while Al Michaels would chuckle drolly, Jerry Jones would talk about character, and Bryant would say something that would be used against him in a court of law later. We'd get QB Controversy over how Orton was more clutch than Tony Romo, try to talk ourselves into how this didn't mean the Kelly Era was doomed, and come up with all kinds of bullsquat excuses over how it didn't matter. Higher draft pick! They weren't going to win the Super Bowl anyway! Now we get to see the Saints clown this team by 40, the way we were supposed to!

I had it all planned out, you see.

And then Brandon Boykin flashed, and Orton obliged him by missing his man by a solid  five to ten feet, and like clear air turbulence, but only *good*, it was over and everyone I knew, on the side of my laundry, was trying to forget how pissed off they were.

And Twitter exploded with how Orton Equals Romo, and how the Cowboys are just what we thought they were, and all that. But as for me, all I can feel is relief that, well, this utterly exasperating team isn't going to end the year with a turd in the punch bowl.

Now, the Eagles *are* playing with house money. Now, they have a home game against a suspect opponent that, if they lose to, it won't be how they spit the bit against Kyle Freaking Orton; it will be that they couldn't beat a Hall of Fame QB with a Super Bowl ring and a defense that's statistically tolerable. (Oh, by the way? It will suck if they lose to the Saints again. There is no such thing as a good loss in the NFL.)

They might just play better. You know, kind of like when they crushed the Bears in a game that no one thought they were even going to try real hard to win.

The weather forecast for Saturday is sunny, with a high of 29. The game will be at night. Drew Brees is 0-4 in outdoor playoff games, albeit against some really good teams, and in some really bad weather. The Saints have struggled all year on the road.

Oh, and if you win this, you're going on the road to Carolina, who have no playoff experience, and are a year away from being a really bad team. They also usually play close games, regardless of the opponent. And if you get past them? Well, you've got a prayer at a home game if the Seahawks get upset, and if not, you've got to win a game at the toughest home field in the NFL to get to the Super Bowl. But Seattle hasn't been invulnerable. And a Super Bowl would be a de facto home game with the proximity to Philadelphia, plus the probable terrible weather.

It's all, well, *possible*.

All in Chip Kelly Year Zero. All with a second-year QB you found deep in the draft, with a defense that's made up of depth free agents and the better pieces of a 4-12 team.

We have, of course, no right to expect more. This team should have been 8-8; instead, they are 10-6. They should be home watching the playoffs; instead, they are hosting a game they could easily win. There was widespread snickering that the Browns made a better head coaching hire than the Eagles (um, whoops; they canned their guy today). There was consensus from the pundits that Kelly's stuff would not work in the pros; it does. There was extreme doubt that they could do anything without a career renaissance from Mike Vick; he's the clear back-up.They were 3-5. They are 10-6.

Six of the last eight teams to win the Super Bowl played on Wild Card Weekend.

Dare to dream?

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule