This is all very new to the first-year head coach. He never lost back-to-back games in a season during his time at Oregon, let alone three in a row. He only lost seven games total during his impressive four-year reign in Eugene.
This may be a first for Kelly, but Eagles fans have become all too familiar with this routine. The 4-12 debacle is still fresh in their memory. A lot of the fun and just about all of the hope was sucked out of them over the past two seasons.
It is almost universally understood that this is a rebuilding year. No one expected the Eagles to be Super Bowl contenders (except maybe a few that got caught up in the excitement after the Washington win); not with such a large organizational overhaul underway. But this is not a season without expectations. This base wants to see progress. They want their hope back.
The last three weeks have not done much for that pursuit. A close loss to the Chargers was followed by a double-digit loss to the Chiefs. And then, the blowout in Denver.
Are you seeing progress or growth?
“I think that’s a great question, and I’ll really be able to answer that question on Tuesday when we come back out on the practice field,” said Kelly. “And if we come out and we’re hanging our heads and we’re feeling sorry for ourselves, then I’ll say we didn’t have any progress or growth. But I think we’ve got to understand that this is a tough-ass league and you’re playing against some really good teams, and if you feel sorry for yourself …As I tell people all the time: 90 percent of people don’t care about your problems, and 10 percent are glad you have them.
“We’ve got to go back to work and that’s the only thing we know to do. We’re going to work and figure this thing out. If you are feeling sorry for yourself then we haven’t made progress. If they come back to work on Tuesday, I’ll be excited about this group as we move forward. I really believe they will.”
The players exited the field and made their way into the locker room in silence. There was disappointment, but not the kind of dejection that followed the loss to Kansas City. This group seems to be hanging their hat on the fact that, while this was a bad loss, it came out of conference. They are 1-0 in the division, and can improve on that with a win against the Giants next week.
“It’s still very early in the season so there is still a lot of optimism and opportunity for us,” said Jason Kelce. “Frustrating loss, but the bottom line is we’re still in contention to make the playoffs very realistically.”
And so, that will be the focus internally as the Eagles attempt to recover from a series of body blows and try to work out of their 1-3 hole.
When this team takes the practice field Tuesday, Kelly will be looking to see how his players bounce back from adversity. Meanwhile, the outside world will have its eyes on the rookie head coach for the very same reason.
“Yeah, we don’t have an experienced head coach in the NFL,” said Cary Williams, “but he’s coached in some big games. It’s not a time that we get off his bandwagon. We still have to continue to believe in his system, and just play hard.”