When evaluating where the Eagles are after four games, words like expectations and potential have to enter the discussion.
The Birds were blown out 52-20 Sunday afternoon in Denver. The first number there is the one that will generate buzz around the country today. The Broncos set a franchise record for points scored, and Peyton Manning didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.
Four games in, we have a pretty good sense of what the Eagles' defense is. The front seven doesn't do a good-enough job of pressuring the quarterback. The secondary is shaky, as expected. And Billy Davis seems to be throwing darts at times when deploying his personnel. Maybe this group will show improvement in the coming weeks, but chances are, what you see is what you get.
The offense, however, could be a different story. Any hope of pulling out a victory or even keeping the game competitive against the Broncos hinged on Chip Kelly, Michael Vick and company piecing things together. The Eagles were in a one-possession game, 21-13, at halftime. But the team settled for field goals twice in the red zone in the first half and came away with no points on their first four possessions of the second half.
"We have to go back to the drawing board," Vick said. "We have to look at things we aren’t doing well and get them corrected. We need to find a way to get momentum going and get it back. Everything can be corrected, we just need to find ways to get them corrected."
Vick finished 14-for-27 for 248 yards. He started out 10-for-16 in the first half, but protection fell apart in the third quarter, and the Eagles' offense sputtered.
"I would like to have more time, but I have to go with what I got and keep fighting," Vick said. "Regardless with what I got, I have to keep fighting and working with those guys every day. I believe in myself, but at the end of the day we all have to look at the mistakes we’ve made and figure it out. I want to do my job to the best of my ability. Everybody has to feel the same way."
Kelly was a little more critical of the offensive line: "I think Mike played well. I thought he threw the ball very accurately and I do know this, and we’ve got to address it: We have to protect him better. We’ve got times where he is at the top of his drop and he is sticking his foot into the ground and there’s pressure on him. That’s not on Mike. I thought he put the ball in really good places, I thought he kept drives alive with his legs and I thought Mike played really well."
The problem right now is finding consistency in the passing game. Even against a tough Denver run D, the Eagles piled up 166 yards on the ground and averaged 4.7 YPC.
But Eagles receivers are struggling to give Vick options in the passing game. And the offense is making too many mistakes - penalties, breakdowns in protection, etc.
The offense has a higher ceiling than what it's shown so far. Even in a mostly disappointing performance against Denver, the Eagles piled up 450 yards.
Take a look at the NFC East standings, and you'll notice the Eagles could find themselves in a tie for first place with a win next week against the Giants.
After three straight losses, a turnaround hinges on the offense's ability to reduce mistakes and give this team an identity.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Kelly and fans search for progress, writes T-Mac.
Kelly weighs in on what went wrong vs. Denver.
Post-game observations from the Eagles' 32-point loss.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com hands out his post-game awards:
The "Screw You, Peyton Manning" Award: Peyton Manning
In the week leading up to this game, Peyton Manning complained that the Eagles had 12 days of rest and preparation for this game, while the Broncos only had 6. Shut up, Peyton. That’s like Bill Gates complaining that the heated seats in his Bentley are set to 82 degrees, instead of the preferred 85.
Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com looks at some of Kelly's in-game decisions:
Earlier in the half, the Eagles scored a touchdown to make the score 14-12. Kelly kicked the extra point instead of going for two and the tie.
The bottom line is Kelly didn’t have confidence in his offense to pick up six yards, in his special teams to make a long field goal or in his defense to stop the Broncos.
We'll hear from Kelly at 1 p.m.