Some Thoughts On Where The Eagles Stand

Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Football is a sport and ours is a world where conclusions are drawn between heartbeats.

That’s why we pull out the measuring sticks and set up our tier systems and sift through our data to try and form something concrete — never mind that the concrete is weeks away from hardening. We’re going to figure this thing out now, dammit. It’s all part of the ride and the big swings in perception and emotion are a major part of what makes football king.

And there is valuable intel to pick up along the way, no doubt. One of the reasons why this season was so intriguing heading in was because teams like Green Bay and Seattle were on the docket. What better way to see how Chip Kelly’s boys stack up then to pit them against some of the top units in the league? Buy the “every week is the Super Bowl” mantra all you want, these games were circled on the players’ calendars since the schedule was released in April – particularly this past week’s showdown with Seattle.

“In this league when you’re considered to be the best, everyone has the target out for you, you know?” said Mychal Kendricks leading up to the game. “I wouldn’t say that we have a target out for them but we know that they’re on our schedule and we knew at the beginning of this year that this was going to be a good game, because we knew what we were capable of doing and we know what we want to obtain, and it’s the same thing that they got last year. This is what you want to go against, this is what you want to play in.”

But the results weren’t what they were hoping for. The defending champs looked like they were in a class above. Vulnerabilities were exposed and exploited, and you were left with the impression that a gap remains between the Eagles and the elite. The same was true following November’s trip to Lambeau.

The Eagles are 0-3 this season against the NFC teams they’ve played that would currently qualify for the playoffs (Arizona, Green Bay, Seattle). Dallas is the only other team remaining on the regular-season schedule that has a winning record, so there will be some questions about this group’s viability as a postseason contender even if they run the table and finish 12-4. That feels strange to write, but it’s true. The regular season will end without proof that they are capable of knocking out a giant.

Fortunately for them, such proof is not needed for postseason admission. And as we’ve seen over the years, the playoffs often go off-script.

That was certainly the case in 2007 when the fifth-seeded Giants won three straight road games to get into the Super Bowl, where they toppled the previously undefeated Patriots. The Cowboys (13-3) were the top seed in the conference that year. New York (10-6) lost both of its regular-season matchups with Dallas by double digits. But the Giants dropped the Cowboys 21-17 in the divisional round before going into Green Bay and edging the Packers in the NFC Championship, setting up their huge upset win over New England.

It’s an extreme example, but points to the fact that regular-season outcomes don’t mean a whole hell of a lot when the postseason hits. Just ask the 2003 Eagles, who beat the Panthers by nine in November before falling to them 14-3 in a much more meaningful game a couple months later. Same for the 2002 club, which beat the Bucs by 10 earlier in the year before stumbling against Tampa in a title game no one thought it could lose.

This isn’t to say that what we saw Sunday or in Green Bay last month shouldn’t be of concern. It left legitimate questions as to whether this team is equipped with the personnel – and particularly, the quarterback – necessary to compete against the best the league has to offer.

The point is that the ending hasn’t been written yet, and the Eagles still have the opportunity to show that the only measuring sticks that matter are the bright orange ones that rest on the edge of the field come January.