It's already come to this. After a narrow loss in Week 1 and perhaps the worst offensive performance in recent memory in Week 2, the Eagles sit at a stunning 0-2 going into a must-must-must-win against the New York Jets this Sunday.
The question is simple: do the Eagles have what it takes to make the playoffs in a weak and banged-up NFC East?
Dave Mangels: I think winning the division is still a possibility. Perhaps a small one, but it's there. But I'm having a hard time seeing them win on Sunday. There's four issues with this team and they all apply to the Jets:
1. As we know, the offensive line has been brutal in the run game (it hasn't been bad at pass protection), and it's because of mental errors across the board. Those can be fixed, and it won't even take everyone turning it around to go from "DeMarco Murray having no chance on pretty much every play" to "able to get some first downs and keep drives alive."
The guards are bad, but we knew that was their weak spot going into the season, if Jason Peters/Jason Kelce/Lane Johnson clean up their act things will be better. So I'm buying that the offensive line can get it's head out of it's ass with mental issues, but against the Jets defense? I'm not at all confident.
2. The play calling has been woeful. This looks nothing like the offense we saw in the past. The tempo is pathetic. They are taking so much time that defenses are subbing players when the Eagles aren't. Every run is zone or sweep. Little to no power or counter. Maybe I missed it, but I can't remember any tackle over run plays. I can't remember any WR orbit motion plays. In 2013 and 2014 you couldn't go two quarters without seeing one of those plays. They've gone two games without them. It's so vanilla that it looks like a pre-season offense.
Mental issues with the coaches can also be fixed, but If Kelly gets outcoached for a third game in a row, then it's panic time. And Todd Bowles is a hell of a defensive coach.
3. Byron Maxwell looks like Nnamdi Asomugha 2.0. That ain't going to fix itself versus Brandon Marshall and (if he plays) Eric Decker.
4. Sam Bradford. He rarely throws deep and when he does he sucks at it. Teams are going to continue to crowd the box and underneath zones until he gives them a reason not too. I'm not seeing much reason why this will fix itself, and do so by Sunday. The Jets will blitz the living hell out of this line and Bradford, and their secondary is going to suffocate all the short routes they run when the running game can't get out of neutral.
Mark Saltveit: 7-9 might win this division, so 0-3 isn't the end of the season if the Cowboys lose on Sunday (go Falcons), but that's a nearly impossible hole to dig out of. Even the seven-win Seahawks in 2010 and Panthers in 2014 started off well (2-1), though that's it for precedent for a seven-win team going to the playoffs. But just making the playoffs wasn't the goal this year.
This is a crazy year, NFL parity at its most random. Anything CAN happen, and this year's NFCE might be the easiest conference to win in this century. The Eagles defense is looking pretty good, too, though injuries might be changing that quickly.
The problem is that Chip Kelly is showing a complete lack of confidence in his running game right now. Against Dallas he gave them one snap and immediately bailed to passes, then was equally predictable in the passing game.
Chip knows more about this offensive line than we do, so that worries me a lot. It's not like he doesn't understand the importance of constraint plays and tendency breakers -- that's his wheelhouse. Unless he had a brain freeze against Dallas, he's signaling a desperate lack of things he feels that he can do with this lineup. If that's true, he might as well start throwing stuff against the wall and see what sticks, because the stuff he tried -- presumably the stuff that worked best -- failed thoroughly as well.
Logic would say that the usual "run to set up the pass" approach is just not going to work here, so he might as well try passing to set up runs, which would at least confuse the rotation of defensive packages. But we seem to be past the point of standard football logic already in this season. I think it's time to lower expectations drastically, keep high draft picks in mind as a possible consolation prize, and take every win this year as a wonderful surprise.
Patrick Wall: After Week 1, it was hard to say with confidence that I thought the Eagles would beat the Cowboys, even though I thought the Eagles were the better team. Until they prove otherwise, I'm not sure how I say with confidence that the Eagles will be better than any team on their schedule.
Offensively it's tough to judge anything with the miscues along the offensive line. And it doesn't seem like the other positions are really helping either. With the exception of Jordan Matthews, none of the wide receivers have done much of anything. It's still too early for me to tell if it's because of playmaking or scheme, but that in itself is a problem.
As Dave said, the playcalling hasn't been great, and we heard another team say they could predict the Eagles' calls before the play was run. Chip Kelly has long been touted as an offensive mastermind. Now's the time to prove it.
Brent Cohen:The Eagles are still favored to win the division in Vegas, so there's definitely hope. If you're looking for positives, most of the o-line breakdowns looked like crossed assignments and communication, which can be fixed, as opposed to bad blocking, which is tougher to correct.
Fortunately the rest of the division is an absolute disaster. My biggest concern, though, is that Chip has swung a bit too far towards scheme in the "scheme vs. talent" debate on offense. Chip's offense was dominant when he had a great offensive line, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin on the field.
I do like Murray, but it's clear the line is a big step down from what it was two years ago, and Matthews/Nelson Agholor are still too young to provide the punch Desean/Maclin did. Ertz's injury is a killer, because he should be the guy we look to to help fill the gap until the receivers progress.
Still too early to panic, though. The D looks good when its not trying to cover Julio Jones, and Dallas could very well run off a streak of 4-5 straight losses.
Jim Keane: After the Dallas Cowboys bombed Pearl Harbor, Jason Garrett in his post-game press conference said, "I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
The Philadelphia Eagles are about to go nuclear.