Welcome back to .500, Chip Kelly. So how did it happen? Well, we won again. That's the obvious part. And there's plenty (did I mention we won again?) to be excited about...
... But temper that excitement just a bit: Our last two wins came agains teams that haven't won yet. 'A win's a win' and 'you can only beat the teams you play' and 'you don't pick your schedule' and all the other clichés that're out there. But there's another little saying that, I believe, goes... 'when your 3 wins have come against teams that are a combined 1-15 and the 1 win came against the Raiders... you still have a very long way to go.' I'll admit it: I made that up. Perhaps a little too specific to catch on... but it's got a ring to it.
Elephant in the room: The Quarterback Situation
I mentioned my feelings about this last week and I will update them here. I say Stick with Foles (that works better with Vick because it rhymes). Hmmm.... Roll with Foles! There. It's simple for me: this team is in step 1 of what we all hope is a fairly quick build to something great. Keeping Vick out there in the last year of a contract... at age 33... in a situation where his return to the team in 2014 seems incredibly unlikely... doesn't make sense. If we were 6-0? Sure. Play whichever guy you think gives us the best chance to win no matter what. But at 3-3... let's see if Foles can be the guy. He looks good. He looked pretty good behind a terrible line last year. Let's see how he looks through 5-6 games behind a really good line (more on that later) and go from there. Vick provides no chance at a longterm solution. Foles could be the guy. He could show the coaches enough, with Barkley behind him, to convince coach Kelly that QB is not a position of need. That would allow us to attack the issues on the defensive side of the ball that much harder in Free Agency and in The Draft. Roll with Foles, baby!
He's an absolutely revelatory talent. Had he been at Oregon under Chip Kelly... they could've won a title. You have to look at Brady with Belichick, really, to find a better match of talent with scheme. It wouldn't surprise me at all if McCoy (and DeSean Jackson) was a major reason why Chip changed his mind and thought Philly was the right place for him.
The Not-at-all-Offensive Line
These guys are good. Being asked to protect a very different style of QB this week and to do so against a strong Tampa Bay defensive front, these guys came to play. Conversations may be dominated by Chip's scheme and the Foles/Vick debate and the glorious seasons being had by McCoy and Jackson... but when you are the #2 yard-gaining offense and the #5 scoring offense in the NFL... it's because the core up front is doing their job. Period. Lane Johnson played his best game as a pro. Jason Kelce played his best game of the season as he continues to get healthier and healthier. The early season uncertainly with Herremans switching sides seems to have been for nothing. And Evan Mathis continues to be, flat out, the most underrated player on this football team. If not in the league. Oh, and Jason Peters. Damn.
Rookie QB. No Mike Williams. But still... by a large margin... a margin so big you wouldn't have any room to write on the paper because the whole thing would just be margin... the safeties played their best game of the season in Week 6. Heck, given how last year looked at the position, it might be the best played game of football by Eagles' safeties since 2011. And it was only pretty good. But I'll take pretty good. Earl Wolff looked much improved. Nate Allen was solid. And with the top 3 corners continuing to do a good job some moderate improvement from the safeties (if it continues moving forward) could be a big step for this defense.
My Kingdom for a Pass Rush
We gotta get pressure. It's the easiest way to take a bad defense and see instant improvement. Coach Davis has yet to find a way (or a player) to get consistent pressure on a QB this season. In Week 1 it looked like Mychal Kendricks could be that guy. Since? He's been asked to drop into coverage so much that his blitzes have become a severely endangered species. At this point, it would almost make sense to move Cole/Graham inside and let Kendricks play outside backer for a spell. Just to see what it does. Thirteen sacks aren't enough. The 78 yards we've pushed teams back by sacking them this year rank 26th in the league. The defense is bad. As I documented, we've won three games against teams that have combined for a 1-15 start. Even with those teams behind us we rank 32nd in yards given up per game and 29th in points given up per game. You can analyze and formulate those numbers any way you want to (and Chip Kelly's on the field/off the field offense which is good for 30th in the league in time of possession doesn't help) but the numbers have to improve. And the quickest way to make a splash/create an identity/intimidate opponents is to start getting after the passer. Even if it leaves things open in the secondary. Usually... we're letting them catch balls anyway. Might as well send the house!
All opinions aside... it's tough to see next week as anything but a pretty big game. A chance to get above .500, to move into undisputed first place, to be 3-0 in the division, and to beat the Dallas Cowboys (not to mention a chance to win our first home game since... Hmm... I can't remember the year, but I believe it was Jaworski to Mike Quick for 99 yards in overtime...).
I'll be watching. Until then, 3-3.