In 1970, a humorous movie was made about US G.I’s who sneak behind enemy lines and with one tank, unload a secret gold shipment. The odds are stacked against them, and a motley crew seems less capable of agreeing than pulling off the heist of the century. But each member adds their own specialty, despite their quirkiness. In the end, the movie is a hilarious comic relief on a serious topic.
Fast forward 43 years, and we see remarkable similarities. Led by Vinny Curry, Michael Vick, Desean Jackson, Lesean McCoy, Nick Foles, Benny Logan, Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson, the Eagles are not expected to do well this year. In fact, most pundits project the Eagles to finish dead last in the NFC East, which is not the strongest division.
And it’s not just the pundits. Eagles fans are typically realistic, but after two solid years of hyped pre-season, the fan base seems to be in the “show me” camp. And that’s the way it should be. After 8-8 and 4-12 seasons, this year is more than a debut season for Chip Kelly. It’s about laying the foundation for success. It’s about setting the stage for the next generation of Eagles fans.
And that foundation is about fundamentals: Tackling, holding onto the ball, blocking, rushing, special teams, scoring in the red zone and stopping the other team from scoring in the red zone. Much like Kelly’s heroes, this is a motley crew. The stars of past years have lost some of their luster, whether returning from injury, learning a new position, playing in a new scheme, answering to a new coaching staff, or simply answering the question of how much heart do they have after folding like paper dolls in the 4-12 finish.
Along comes Chip Kelly and his innovative ideas. “It won’t work” seems to be the consensus of unnamed sources close to Jason La Canfora.
“No one I spoke to believed he would be able to operate his offense in the accelerated manner the college game allows (“He’s just not going to be able to be that much faster than everybody else,” said one GM who has studied Kelly’s attack. “That’s not going to work here.”).” He wrote in a recent shock story aimed at the Eagles fan base.
The problem with finding optimism in the Eagles this preseason is that it’s like trying to pick out a war hero in the Kelly’s Heroes cast. There’s no history, no “proof”. They have a plan that sounds insane enough to maybe pull it off. But, fast moving two-minute, drill-stacking, receiver read-option offenses are getting more chuckles than standing ovations so far. And everyone is an expert on the tremendous burden of converting from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense, and that the Eagles won’t be able to pull it off. And special teams? So far, I’m one of the few that are telling you to KEEP THE EAGLES SPECIAL TEAMS ON YOUR RADAR!!
So far, the quarterbacks are running the offense as well as anyone can. The offensive line is looking as though it might be one of the elite of the NFL. The running backs are running hard, led by Shady McCoy, whose moves resemble a man with swivels for ankles. And that defense that everyone laughed at in practicing against the New England Patriots? That defense held the Panthers to 278 total yards, and no touchdowns. And that red zone defense? Panthers were 0 for 2, while the Eagles were 2 for 3.
A motley crew? Perhaps. But as we saw on the big screen in 1970, sometimes a cast of castoffs, underachievers, and out of favor guys can end up in the gold. I’ll leave you with;
Oddball: Who is that guy, Crapgame?
Crapgame: Him? Name’s Kelly. Used to be a lieutenant, pretty good one, too, until they gave him orders to attack the wrong hill. Wiped out a half a company of G.I.’s. Somebody had to get the blame and he got picked.
Crapgame: What is this? Huh? What is this, a ballgame? Who are these guys?
Oddball: Their my friends, Crapgame.
Crapgame: And who is that bunch of refugees over there?
Oddball: The band.
Crapgame: The band? What do we need a band for?
Oddball: Have a little faith, Crapgame. They’re beautiful people.
If this Eagles team has success this year, they will look pretty good to the City of Brotherly Love.
Fun Fact: The last time an Eagles defense held an opponent to less than 10 points was October 30, 2011 versus the Dallas Cowboys. The last time the eagles defense held an opponent without a touchdown was August 11, 2011, in the first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. Don’t stick a fork in the Eagles just yet.
Written By: @milroyigglesfan