Welcome to the New Age!

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

After a long offseason and longer preseason, Chip Kelly's first regular season game as Philadelphia Eagles' head coach is on Monday Night, against a division rival. Could it get much sweeter?

For dinner not too long ago, my wife and I went to Zahav, one of the best restaurants in the city, and ordered the chef’s tasting menu.  The menu featured a lot of small plates, all of which were absolutely incredible.  Warm hummus with lemon, garlic and sesame paste.  Watermelon salad.  Fried cauliflower with chives, dill, mint, and garlic.  Heirloom tomato salad with homemade ricotta.  Duck kebabs with pickled blueberries.  Veal-stuffed grape leaves.  They were amazing.  But none of these dishes held a candle to the main course: lamb shoulder with a pomegranate glaze, slow roasted for 24 hours.  The waiter brought out this monster piece of meat, uncarved, placed it on our table, and gave us… tweezers.  The only utensil needed for meat so tender it melted in your mouth.

Speaking of, is your mouth woodering watering yet?  Are you salivating?  Need a bib?  Welcome to what it feels like to be a Philadelphia Eagles fan!  For the first time in two years we witnessed some solidly played football Sunday, Week 1.  In 2011, we were forced to watch something that was better seen in high school, the result of a lockout-shortened preseason.  Last year the NFL forced upon us replacement referees, who ruined whatever integrity in the game still existed.  Two seasons in a row, we were subjected to a sub-par product.  Now, in 2013, no lockouts, no interrupted off-seasons, and thankfully, Week 1 was properly entertaining.  I feel like I did that night in Zahav.  Everything was excellent leading to the main course.

Which brings us to our super chef-waiter, Chip Kelly.  He has the potential to become Legend in this city. He is Legend elsewhere.   Some in Oregon say that Chip Kelly doesn’t need sleep.  Instead, sleep needs Chip Kelly (and hey Jeff, it’s AUR-uh-gin, not OR-uh-gon).  Chip once destroyed the periodic table in New Hampshire, because the only element he needs is surprise.  Chuck Norris counted to infinity… twice.  But he was trying to keep track of how many offensive plays Chip Kelly called in a game.  Chuck couldn’t keep up.  Welcome to the new age (Imagine Dragons, press play).

While Chef Kelly has done everything but slow roast this Eagle’s team (does he do anything slow?), we’re only hours away from knowing whether the ingredients are right, whether this team is well done, or still raw. There is a fine litmus test ahead in the Washington Redskins, and personally, I am more interested in seeing how the defense responds.  Will the front seven be able to contain Robert Griffin III, who, back from injury, may be more physically limited Monday night than exponentially gifted (or not).   Will a secondary that consists of Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams, Nate Allen, and Patrick Chung be suitable enough to eliminate Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, and Fred Davis?  Can they assist with stopping Alfred Morris?  Can they force turnovers?  Tackle assuredly?  How will Trent Cole and Brandon Graham play in their new roles?  Will the defense be too weak?  The offense potent enough?

All will be answered soon.  And no doubt, new questions will arise.  But Sunday’s games served as an excellent primer.  Drew Brees threw for 357 yards (and two really pretty touchdowns, one to Jimmy Graham and another to Marques Colston) in a win over Atlanta.  Colin Kapernick proved he is hungry to get back to the Super Bowl after starting his first Week 1, throwing for 412 yards and three touchdowns against Green Bay.  But Sunday’s games also proved to be a sobering harbinger, as Pittsburgh’s All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey went down early with an ugly knee injury, tearing his ACL and MCL.  In Philadelphia, we know too well about losing centers to injury.

But losing is not something Chip Kelly has done too often, and he doesn’t want to start the season with a loss to a divisional foe on Monday night.  It would serve him well to recall the 2011 Monday Night opener, when New England defeated division rival Miami 38 – 24.  Or the 2012 Monday Night opener, when Baltimore crushed division rival Cincinnati 44 – 13.  Both victors made it to the Super Bowl in their respective years, and one of them even won it.

All I know is, I’ve had enough of these small plates, Chip.  My bib is on, tucked into my jersey.  I have a fork in my left hand, a knife in my right.  No tweezers for this guy.  I’m ready to dig in, Chip.  Now show me how good you really are.  Time for you to carve up some ‘Skins!

[Ed. Note] Had to add this. - BLG

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