In case you’re still searching for silver linings from the Eagles’ 52-20 drubbing in Denver two days ago—their third consecutive loss, and looking increasingly less competitive with each passing week—well the good news is there actually are some reasons to remain upbeat.
Go ahead and scoff at the mere implication the sky isn’t falling. If the Birds handle the New York Giants this Sunday (possible), and the Dallas Cowboys fall to the Broncos (likely), Philadelphia would actually take over first place in the NFC East. Ah, the joys of playing in a weak division.
It gets better. Anybody who checked the schedule is no doubt already aware the Eagles’ slate is about to lighten significantly compared to the first four games. Their opponents thus far have combined to produce an 11-5 record, good for a winning percentage of .688. The next 12 are just 16-32 with a .334 percentage.
And although it’s impossible to predict where many of these teams could be sitting one month from now, even just the immediate future seems favorable. Three of the next four opponents (Tampa Bay, Giants x2) have yet to win so much as a game so far this season.
Let’s face it: the Eagles are a rebuilding team, and were completely outclassed by the Broncos in Week 4. They also lost to another of the league’s five remaining unbeatens in the Kansas City Chiefs, and even that defeat took a pile of unforced turnovers in order to essentially give the game away. Throw in a last-minute loss to the San Diego Chargers, and the Birds had actually been competitive in every game up until Sunday.
Philadelphia easily could be at least 2-2 right now, if not 3-1 had they not completely imploded against the Chiefs.
Now the next four weeks pose a golden opportunity to turn things around. The Giants have been absolutely hammered by injuries, and have allowed opponents to outscore them 69-7 the last two weeks. Tampa Bay has hitched its wagon to rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, a third-round pick who was abruptly promoted to starter last week.
Even the first-place Cowboys coming to town in three weeks—while a challenge—is not especially frightening. They’ve already lost San Diego and Kansas City as well, so we’ll see how much better they fare against Peyton Manning’s armada.
The Eagles’ schedule toughens up again down the stretch, but there are still clashes with Oakland, Washington, and Arizona leading up to then. Between now and Week 14, the only intimidating game on the schedule is a trip to Green Bay in November.
Do we expect the Eagles are going to beat all the teams they “should?” Probably not, given they look like one of those teams themselves based on the standings. True rebuilding teams usually don’t run into too many honestly lesser opponents—although some of these franchises are in pathetic shape.
The point is, it’s much too early to give up on this season much less this coaching staff after four games, three of which the Birds were against quality teams with established NFL quarterbacks. The Eagles will have the opportunity to prove where they stand in the pecking order of unfinished products around the league beginning this weekend. Who knows, a last-place schedule may yet propel this team to a run to an NFC East title.
Chip Kelly and his squad have a lot to work to do, but if they knock off Eli Manning and the G-men in New York this week, that could go a long way toward turning the momentum back in the Eagles' favor.