The Chip Kelly era began with enough drama to somehow live up to all the hype. It was a fast game, then a slow one; jaw-dropping brilliance followed by empty-beer-can-throwing frustration; a blowout, then in a blink, a nail-biter. Why let the fact that we’ve only seen 60 minutes of football stop us from passing judgment and making sweeping generalizations about the team? Here’s what we learned from the debut of Kelly and the 2013 Eagles.
1. Mandatory Fan Accessories: A Cooler (And Possibly a Bedpan)
Usain Bolt. The Millennium Falcon. Your buddy’s disappearance when the bar tab arrives. Add Chip Kelly’s offense to the list of things that are scary fast—sometimes almost too much so. The Eagles ran a whopping 53 plays in the first half alone and LeSean McCoy was seen on the sidelines sucking wind (not that it showed in his performance). All that time of possession kept the defense rested and may have contributed to Robert Griffin’s out-of-synch performance. And good luck trying to fetch a fresh beer or make a bathroom run. Kelly’s gameplan slowed down after halftime, but even then, LeSean McCoy and Mike Vick had the potential to do something amazing at any moment. Postgame, Vick estimated we’ve only seen 60 percent of the playbook so far. Leave your couch and look away from this offense at your own risk.
2. Also, a Barf Bag
Because LeSean McCoy will make you sick. At one point, he somehow cut laterally and hurdled a guy at the same time. Dude swiped at air, while Shady ran for 37 yards, en route to 184 on the ground. That’s gross. Honorable mention to D-Jack, who looked like his old swaggy self again. The question: Can they handle this two-ton workload for 15 more games?
3. The Jury Is Still Out On The Defense
On both sides of the ball, it was a game of two halves—at first, impressive in all phases, then slow, sloppy at times, and hard to watch. Afterward, Kelly admitted he may have taken his foot off the gas offensively a bit too early. It showed. Defensively, though, the team gave up 20 points in the last two quarters. That appeared to be a combination of the Redskins finally finding a rhythm and the Eagles defense exposing its weaknesses, including Patrick Chung, who got burned for a touchdown in the endzone. Still, there were some rays of hope—Trent Cole settling into his new role as a linebacker, Mychal Kendricks wreaking havoc and leading the team in tackles, and Cary Williams with an interception, a sack and some big-time pass disruption. Also, when’s the last time you weren’t worried about special teams? Punts, field goals, coverage—all solid.
4. Everything Rests On The Hulking Shoulders Of Jason Peters
Remember last season, when Vick seemed to spend most of his time running for his life, crushed beneath slabs of defensemen or injured? What a difference Peters makes on the O-line. Yes, there were some protection breakdowns and Vick took a few shots that he can’t be blamed for. But for much of the game, the line, led by Peters, protected their quarterback. Did you see that replay of Peters nonchalantly throwing 260-pound Brian Orakpo to the ground? If he stays healthy, Vick could have a Pro Bowl season. Although it seems that…
5. Nick Foles Will Play This Year
It is a scientific fact: For all his athletic gifts, Vick is incapable of executing a feet-first slide. By the night’s end, he was limping off the field. Maybe it’s just soreness from a physical first game, or a slight groin or hip tweak. But when Vick ran with the ball, he showed his usual lack of concern for his body. That’s something we love in almost all of our athletes—a reckless disregard for their health in the name of winning. But not when it comes to our quarterbacks. The system may have changed, but Vick’s freewheeling physical style—and his tendency to end up on the injury report—have not.
6. Take The Over
The Eagles comfortably cleared the betting line. Expect that trend to continue.
7. The Fun Is Back
Enthusiasm is contagious, and one look at the Eagles sideline showed the love was spreading as fast as Vick was moving the chains. Jackson is a good measure of how the team’s feeling—last season, as they crumbled, he was mopey and underperformed. Now it’s clear all the players’ talk of having fun again is more than lip service, and it showed in Jackson’s performance (seven catches for 104 yards, a touchdown, and a funky endzone shuffle). That excitement will translate to the fans; it’s a feeling we haven’t had since the first half of the Reid era. Expect the Linc to be electric this weekend for the home opener. Just one request—please, guys, no touchdown twerking.