What They’re Saying About The Eagles

Chip Kelly. (Jeff Fusco)

Chip Kelly. (Jeff Fusco)

My, does Thanksgiving seem like a distant memory.

As pumpkin pie was served, the Eagles looked doomed. Not just this season was in jeopardy, but maybe the head coach. Maybe the entire direction of the franchise.

Fast forward two weeks, and after two big wins over AFC East opponents, the Eagles hold their playoff hopes in their own hands.

Here’s what local and national writers are saying about the Birds as they head into Week 15.

After he took heat for embarrassing losses, Chip Kelly deserves equal praise for keeping his team together, writes CBS Philly’s Ed Benkin.

Kelly made sure his team kept its composure on the field against Buffalo. The Eagles were never drawn into any penalties which could have cost the team a victory. On the other side, the Bills committed an eye-popping 15 penalties for 101 yards.

“We talked about it as a coaching staff and in individual position meetings and in group settings of it’s important to play with emotion but not let emotion play with you,” said Kelly. “Don’t let them take you out of your game. When you do retaliate, it’s really kind of a selfish act because you’re hurting your team.”

The Eagles’ situation is still far from perfect. Their record of 6-7 won’t exactly make them Super Bowl favorites, and the 11-2 Arizona Cardinals are coming to town on Sunday night. The jury is also still out on whether or not Kelly’s plan will work in the long term. There is also the issue with DeMarco Murray, as the running back’s carries continue to diminish.

But he has brought the Eagles back from the abyss because he never lost faith in his players.

Sam Bradford’s career arc mirrors that of his counterpart this Sunday, Carson Palmer, writes ESPN’s Phil Sheridan.

Palmer, 35, won the Heisman for USC in 2002 and was the first pick in the 2003 NFL draft.

Bradford, 28, won the Heisman as a sophomore at Oklahoma in 2008 and was the first pick in the 2010 NFL draft.

After six years with the Cincinnati Bengals, Palmer asked to be traded. When the Bengals declined, Palmer said he would retire. He held out until the middle of the 2011 season, when the Bengals agreed to trade him to the Oakland Raiders.

After five years with the St. Louis Rams, Bradford was traded to the Eagles.

There is a lesson in here about time, and its role in allowing NFL quarterbacks to reach their full potential.

Fletcher Cox was far and away the best player on the field in the Eagles’ win over the Bills, writes the Buffalo News’s Tyler Dunne.

The best player on the field in Philadelphia’s 23-20 win over the Bills – quite possibly the knockout blow to Buffalo’s season – was not LeSean McCoy. Not Sam Bradford. Not DeMarco Murray. Not anyone associated with the weeklong soap opera. No, it was a defensive end the Eagles acquired before coach Chip Kelly even took over. Unlike J.J. Watt a week prior, Cox single-handedly wrecked plays in finishing with eight tackles (seven solo), including two for loss and a sack.

This 6-foot-4, 300-pounder’s strength was an issue all game for an offensive line that had been mauling teams.

On Buffalo’s first drive, Cox beat [Richie] Incognito for a third-down sack. With 7 minutes to go, he overpowered him to engulf McCoy for a 10-yard loss that derailed a drive. And later, with 3 minutes and 23 seconds left, Incognito had no choice but to hook Cox with a hold to prevent another sack.

In two straight wins, an opportunistic defense has buoyed the Eagles’ playoff hopes, writes Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke.

This is how the Eagles survive and thrive on defense; despite their improved play no one will ever call them a great unit. It’s going to give up its fair share of home runs—[Sammy] Watkins‘ bomb, several plays from Robert Woods and LeSean McCoy, a handful of big gains by New England. To compensate for those slip-ups, Philadelphia absolutely must pounce when the opportunities arise, and in this small, two-week window, it has. The Eagles scored two special-teams touchdowns and a defensive touchdown against the Patriots; [Ed] Reynolds‘s pick capped a bend-but-don’t-break win over the Bills in Week 14.

The Eagles have snuck back into Peter King’s Fine Fifteen over at The MMQB, sliding in at No. 12 in King’s weekly rankings.

Sam Bradford has thrown one pick in his past four games. Maybe the Chip Kelly ethos is correct. That ethos: Be patient; a good quarterback’s going to be good, except probably not overnight.