Kelly waxes philosophic about the Eagles' 'destiny'
One year after being on the verge of firing their head coach, the Eagles are on the verge of making it back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season. (USA Today Images)
A year ago at this time, the Eagles had four wins and 10 losses. They had lost nine out of 10 games heading into the penultimate weekend. And as they limped toward the end of the season they knew many of them wouldn’t be brought back – including the coach.
The situation has changed drastically from then to now. New coach. Quite a few new players. And the despair that accompanied the Eagles for much of last season has been replaced with cheerier circumstances.
“There’s a lot of attention that comes along with it, but I’d much rather be in this situation than what we were in last year,” Nick Foles said. “Every game you’re playing is a meaningful game. Last year, we were playing for each other because there was no way at the end of the season that we could have continued on into the playoffs. Right now, we have a great opportunity to play the Bears, a great talented team to put us in a meaningful position…to continue on after the season, that’s what we all play for. I know the city is excited that these games, that there’s a lot on these games. All the fans are going crazy, because they want us to win so bad. This is a huge game this Sunday.”
Indeed. These Eagles are 8-6. If the Cowboys lose on Sunday to the Redskins, and the Eagles beat the Bears, the Birds will be NFC East champions. If the Cowboys win, the Eagles will still have a chance to claim the division and reach the playoffs if they beat the Cowboys in Dallas in the last week of the season.
Either way, a year after stumbling to one of their worst seasons in quite a while, the Eagles are once again in contention for the postseason.
“Anytime you’re able to play on Sunday night, Monday night, those type of games where the whole world is watching, it definitely makes a difference,” DeSean Jackson said. “Regardless of any game, we still feel we should go out there with the same energy, the same hype and play a great game and try to win. We have to get ready for this Sunday night. It’s going to be a big game. The stage is set.”
The stage would have looked different and less appealing if Dallas hadn’t lost last weekend in abject fashion to the Packers. The Cowboys went down as only they can – with an untimely Tony Romo interception in a critical situation late in the fourth quarter. That loss made it possible for the Eagles to lock up the division this weekend. It was something the Eagles monitored on their flight home from Minnesota.
“I heard a couple of comments while we were on the plane that they actually lost,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, we just have to really worry about ourselves. It’s good to hear the news, obviously, because we want to keep first position. But at the end of the day, we have to win out. We’ll probably have to go [to Dallas] and win there.
“They’re one game up on us. They beat us already. It’s one of those things, regardless of what happens, it’s still a game we’re going to have to win – end of the year, last game.”
It would certainly make for a dramatic conclusion to an entertaining and unexpectedly successful season for the Eagles – playing their division rivals, on the road, for the NFC East title and the right to advance to the playoffs. But, again, all that might be unnecessary. A Cowboys loss and an Eagles win and the Eagles can simply hit the fast forward button and begin postseason preparations a week early.
“It’s a huge game,” Foles said about facing Chicago at home on Sunday evening. “The Bears have been playing great football all year. Obviously, the Dallas situation, we know it’s going down to the end. But it’s a one game season right now. One down, one to go. That’s how Chip says it. One game in this season right now is the Bears. It is a huge game, playing Sunday night, on a huge stage, against a great team, on our home field. It’s probably going to be pretty cold, in a crazy environment, but this is why we play the game. We play the game for opportunities like this. I know everyone in there is excited. I’m excited.”