Tag Archives: Howie Roseman

‘I Love You, But I Don’t Ride With You No More’

Editor’s Note: Every year when the Eagles report for training camp, we publish a column. Sometimes said column discusses actual football matters, but in other instances it may offer a more high level or metaphorical look at the state of the franchise or where my head is at on things. This might be the best — and weirdest — one yet. 

“How the fuck is this happening?”, you say to yourself as your hand bangs once more on the worn-down steering wheel.

You turn the keys again in a last-ditch effort. The engine whimpers softly but still won’t start. “Son of a bitch, am I really gonna have to Uber from San Francisco to Philadelphia? Is that even possible? What driver would accept that?” you mutter in a concerned voice.

What a difference a calendar year makes.

Let’s step back for a second.

This is typically the time of year where your annual road trip begins. You remember — the one where you rode shotgun with Chip in the driver’s seat. The glory days of 2013 where Nick jumped in the car and navigated you through some initial traffic. You were flying, faster than nearly all of the competition. Chip drove with this aura of confidence you hadn’t seen in years. He was out of control and simultaneously in complete control.

There was that magical night in Dallas where the three of you stayed up late celebrating a division title, blasting the fight song while doing laps around Jerry World. Six days later, the trip ended, a little shorter than it should have, but you knew that you were bound for greatness.

2014 was supposed to be even better until your muffler broke halfway through the season. You tried to replace it, but it wasn’t the same. Your rivals caught you down the stretch and celebrated what was yours the year before.

This bothered Chip to no end. He was dead set on making sure it never happened again but went about it completely the wrong way. Last year’s trip never stood much of a chance. There was the early fender-bender in Atlanta. Then a pit stop at home where Chip looked asleep at the wheel.

All the while, you hopped back in the passenger seat of the car every week desperately wanting to believe that it — whatever it was — would click.

Then the crash happened, and holy shit was it a fiery one. It was so bad that Chip had to leave town and moved across the country.

No more road trips speeding by the police. No more no-huddle offenses.

You never really got to say goodbye, and that’s what led you to embark on your own cross-country drive. A chance to get the closure that you desperately need.

It was a lonely journey. It’s different flying solo, but you made it.

‘People weren’t lying. San Francisco looks pretty damn cool,’ you think to yourself as you hit the brakes with a traffic light approaching. Chip was never good with the brakes. You always thought that if he could do away with rear-view mirrors, he would have. They weren’t a safety device to Chip but rather a symbol of inefficiency.

That is, until several other cars have passed you, and there’s no one to stare back at anymore.

‘Damn, the Golden Gate bridge is beautiful,’ you say as you lock the door and make your way over to Chip’s car. Your moment of marvel at the scenery of a different city is quickly interrupted.

“Why are we meeting like this?” Chip says to you, not making eye contact as you make your way into the passenger seat.

He was never the best at impromptu greetings.

You had rehearsed your opening line probably 272 times throughout the drive. There was even that awkward moment where you accidentally said it to a Burger King drive-through employee, and she looked pretty confused when you told her that you were breaking up with her.

You thought you were ready, but it turns out, you’re not so you try making small talk.

“So this is your new car after the crash, huh? How’s Marissa doing at Tennessee? Do you two still text? I know it was impossible, but I told you at the beginning of last year’s trip that we should have gone and saw her. Imagine how different things would be.”

Chip is now irritated. “This is a completely inefficient use of my time. What do you want?” he says now raising his voice.

“I…I…I…I…drove out here to tell you that I’m breaki…”

Chip cuts you off. ‘I was so damn close’ you say in your head. Dammit, Chip.

“I know exactly why you’re here. You’re here because you sense something wrong with how NFL football has been coached for years now. The old-school methods, the slow and plodding offenses. The elongated play calls.”

“Yes but no,” you chime back in. “I’m here to tell you that I’m breaking u…,”

Chip goes to cuts you off again. He was also never good about letting people talk during press conferences.

“You’re here because you believed that I was different. You believed that we could do something great together, and you’re here, you’re here, because you miss me. You never asked for me to be fired. You miss me.”

“Of course I miss you,” you respond. “But that’s not why I’m here.”

You take a deep breath.

“I’m here to tell you that I’m breaking up wit…”

“Sorry, hang on a second,” Chip says as he reaches for his phone.

“Broncos calling asking about Colin,” Chip says to you.

“Okay,” you say back, visibly frustrated now.

“Now where were we?” Chip responds.

You decide you need to take a different approach this time.

“Chip, do you realize what you could have had? You could have had the entire city eating out of the palm of your hand. Everyone wanted to love you, and those who didn’t were fucking stupid. You were going to win a Super Bowl, multiple Super Bowls, and you threw all of that away last offseason.”

“I would do it again,” Kelly snaps back. “I was trying to win.”

“And you lost a lot more than just games,” you quip back. “You blew up a good team. A team that won you the NFC East in your first year and gave you much of the clout that you had.

“You guys are ridiculous. You act like I got rid of a bunch of Super Bowl champions.”

This isn’t going quite as well as you had hoped.

“DeSean. LeSean. Jeremy. Nick. Do you realize what those guys meant to this team and this city?”

Chip doesn’t begin talking, so you jump in again.

“They were some of my really good friends. I trusted you with them.”

“Your good friends haven’t won a playoff game since 2008,” Chip says.

Remember that part about not making eye contact when you got in the car? Yeah, that’s no longer a thing. He’s now staring directly through you — pupils locked in a death stare.

This part you were ready for. In fact, you were hoping it would happen so you could use it.

“Your best friend Sam has never played in a playoff game and never will.”

If there was an audience watching as opposed to this being a private conversation, they might respond with an “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH.”

That was the ultimate zinger. You were waiting to throw it for months, and Chip put it up on a tee for you.

He’s now rattled. You’re still not used to Chip being rattled even though you started to see it more and more late last year when you guys would hit bad traffic and Chip’s old tricks couldn’t find the shortcut any longer.

He’s still quiet.

“You fucked me. I believed in you. I stood up for you so many times, and you fucked me. You fucked me.”

You’re in a groove now. It’s time.

“And that’s why I drove here to tell you that I’m breaking up with y…”

“You want a smoothie? San Francisco has really good smoothies. We should get one,” Chip nonchalantly asks.

“No, Chip, I don’t want a fucking smoothie. See, this is the problem. You’ve evidently learned nothing from your mistakes. I was hoping you would, but you don’t listen to anyone. You’re getting in your own way constantly. You could be one of the greatest innovators the NFL has ever seen, and it won’t work if you keep doing this.”

You’ve now stepped out of the car. Darkness has fallen on this summer night in San Francisco. You used to like looking up at the sky on your trips when Chip would speed through the night, dreaming about what you could accomplish.

Nick was always quiet but would nod his head to the music in the backseat. No words needed to be spoken. The mission was clear. What you wouldn’t do to have those days back.

The touchdown passes. The fourth-quarter comebacks. Cranking the music even louder as Chip sped past another driver and left them in a dust while that cop car didn’t move.

You snap out of your moment of nostalgia and lock eyes with Chip once again, as you’re now both standing on opposite sides of the car.

You close your eyes for a second that feels like an eternity. Now you’re ready. Nothing can stop you as they flash open and your lips start to move.

“I’m breaking up with you.”

There it is.

Chip hasn’t reacted yet.

“I’m going back to Philadelphia. Long drive home and camp starts soon. Season will be here before we know it. Good luck, Chip.”

You begin walking back to your car. Chip follows closely behind you. You press your remote to unlock the door, but it doesn’t work. The second time it does, but the extra time let Chip get even closer. He’s not saying anything, but it’s almost as if he knows something you don’t.

You turn the key in the ignition, but nothing happens. Again. Nothing. Again. There’s that whimper, but it quickly fizzles out.

You knew this wouldn’t be easy. After all, the crash last year didn’t impact just Chip. There’s a mess for you to clean up too.

How the tables have turned. Brimming with confidence the minute prior, you’re now the one stressed again, and Chip sees this as his opportunity.

“Why don’t you stay?” he says.

“What are you talking about, Chip?”

“You know. Stay — in San Francisco. Spend the season with me.”

Now you’re really confused. ‘Didn’t I just tell him that I was breaking up with him. I did say that out loud, right?’

“Come on. I know you rooted for Nick in St. Louis last year. Plus, you don’t think you guys are actually gonna be any good without me, right? I left that offense in shambles.”

“Chip, I won’t do that. I grew up an Eagles fan, I’ve always been an Eagles fan, I’ll die an Eagles fan. I’m going back home — whether this car comes back with me or not.”

You pull out your phone. Outside of the sound of a dog barking in the distance, it’s dead silent.

“Uber will be here in seven minutes,” you casually say to Chip.

Your driver’s name is Ben. He’s wearing a Giants hat in his picture but comes with a 4.9 rating. At this point, it’s hard to be picky. Chip was your guy, and it will be difficult to give your heart away to another driver just like that.

Ben’s now two minutes away. Hopefully this will be easy.

You put your phone away for a second to look up at Chip one more time — examining your former hero who you still have feelings for deep down. This is it. This is really goodbye.

You look down at it again and can’t believe what you see. Ben cancelled. He’s picking up another rider.

You figured it was a long shot to make him travel that far but dammit, he looked like a good driver. Now Tom is on the way. Tom is old in his picture — Like old enough to be your great-grandfather old, but he has a 5.0 rating.

You hold the screen up and wave it at Chip. He breaks his nine minute silence.

“Tom, really? Didn’t I used to leave Tom in the dust on our trips together? You’re gonna get in a car with him?”

You don’t have time to answer because Tom cancels too. Still holding the screen towards him, Chip sees another person turn you down and smirks.

Is the third time a charm?

The app feels like it’s taking forever, the requesting screen processing and processing, but no drivers showing up.

‘Stay calm,’ you say to yourself. ‘We’ll figure it out.’

All of a sudden your phone vibrates, but something looks weird. You have a driver on the way. His name is Doug,. He doesn’t even have a rating, but he’s only a minute away.

“You sure you don’t want to cancel this trip and stay?” Chip tries once more.

He’s relentless. Tears begin streaming down your face. There’s still a few seconds left to cancel. You’re not good at saying goodbye even in situations like this.

Car lights flash in the distance. Doug drives a Lincoln Town Car. Talk about a boring car. This 45-hour drive home is going to suck.

At this point, the tears have intensified some as the car inches closer.

“Bye Chip.”

You do a quick check of the license plate and open the door to the backseat without saying anything. The backseat — this is different. Chip’s looking at you as you cry, nearly 3,000 miles from home.

Doug begins driving, and you stare back at Chip and your car for as long as you can, until it’s become physically impossible to tell that anyone or anything was there in the distance if you didn’t know better.

Doug looks like he’s about to say something. ‘Please no. Please don’t try to talk to me right now,’ you beg to yourself.

“Hey man,” he says turning around as he reaches a stoplight and pulls around to extend his hand.

‘Fuck.’

“Pleasure to have you in the car. I’m just so excited to be driving Uber. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the opportunity to have you as my first passenger. It’s just so awesome.”

You wipe a tear from your face and stare back at Doug, hoping he’ll take a hint. He doesn’t.

“You ever have Kansas City BBQ, man? My old boss, Andy — obsessed with it. I was thinking we stop on the way back if you’re up for it. My treat.

You don’t say anything.

“Of course if you’re not into it though, we don’t have to. Maybe it’s good if we don’t. Jeffrey and Howie will probably be upset at me for putting extra miles on the car now that I think about it.”

You’ve had enough.

“Hey man, not to be an asshole, but I just broke up with someone. I’m really not in the mood to talk right now. Just drive the damn car.”

Several hours have gone by where you’ve been asleep. It was never easy to sleep with Chip driving. He always wanted to go faster, but to your best knowledge, Doug hasn’t come close to an accident yet.

You wake up to unfamiliar sights. ‘Did I just see some exit sign for Mount Rushmore?’

“What’s going on?” you ask Doug.

“You didn’t seem too into the BBQ idea, but we gotta pick up another rider in North Dakota.”

“Whatever,” you say back. “I’m going back to sleep.”

Two hours later you’re awoken again as someone else gets in the car. He’s tall with red hair. So tall that you’re not sure how he’s going to sit in the backseat of Doug’s car for that long.

You’re in a little better mood now and if not taking the initiative to start one, at least willing to engage in a conversation.

You take a look at your phone and open up the app to figure out what’s going on.

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 7.14.19 PM

“Hey man, I’m Carson. Where you headed?”

“Philadelphia,” you respond back. One-word isn’t much, but it’s progress.

“No way, me too,” he says. “You an Eagles fan by chance?”

“You could say that. What about you?”

“Well, I think I just became one,” Carson says. “I hear their fans are crazy. Super passionate. Is that true?”

‘Are you sure you’re ready to get into this?’ you ask yourself before answering.

“You bet, but the good ones are also reasonable. We care. There’s people who like to dismiss everything and mock the ones who care, retweeting stupid things on Twitter, acting as if life is meaningless. The good ones though, they’ll get on you, but if you show you want it even more than they do, they’ll also have your back.

“Hey man, that’s awesome,” Carson says. “I can’t wait to see it for myself. You into music by chance? Play any instruments?

“Played the trumpet for a couple years when I was younger. That’s pretty much it though. You? ”

“Lead guitar.”

Your mouth drops slightly, not having expected this. Carson takes your silence as an invitation to continue.

“There was this guy in my old band named Sam. Never played a sold out show in his life, and he thought he was better than me. I know I can beat him though.”

You want to say something back, but your phone buzzes.

“Hey man, you all good?” says Carson. “You seem a little distracted.”

You wait a few seconds to answer Carson, your face buried deep into your screen.

It’s Chip. He texted you. Of course he texted you.

There’s that sensation. Tears traveling through your inner-eyes, but you won’t cry this time.

Your finger shakes as you hit ‘Send.’ There it goes.

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 2.03.28 PM.png

Doug is cruising. It will get more difficult as he hits rush hour traffic, but things are calm for now. The first highway sign for Philadelphia appears.

“Yeah man, I’m all good,” you say back to Carson. “Let’s fucking go.”

Countdown to Eagles Football — 42 Days: How Long Will Chip Kelly Be the Eagles Coach?

Editor’s note: This is the third installment of a 44-day series counting down the days until the Eagles season begins. The first and second part can be found here and here. 

This makes me a bit uncomfortable, actually more than a bit uncomfortable, to the point where I almost considered not publishing it and going in a different direction, but at the same time, I felt it was important enough to discuss.

An attempt to answer this question is ultimately grounded in intuition and speculation. People have wildly floated their thoughts on this topic since 1 p.m. on January 16, 2013,  the day Kelly was hired to be the Eagles head coach. It has only become a hotter discussion point since January 2015, when Kelly gained full control of player personnel decisions in addition to his coaching duties.

Whatever number or year someone throws out is ultimately a personal notion, but there are some facts that we can use to evaluate the question holistically and venture an educated guess.

Previous Coaching Stops 

Kelly spent 13 years coaching at his alma mater, the university of New Hampshire, including the final eight as the program’s offensive coordinator. He then stayed at Oregon for six seasons, spending the final four as the Ducks head coach before taking his talents to the NFL.

Contract Length

Kelly’s contract currently runs for three more years through the 2017 season. Two scenarios could obviously change things here. A successful season could potentially net Kelly an early extension, even with a couple years remaining on his original deal. On the opposite spectrum, owner Jeffrey Lurie could fire Kelly at any point in time before the end of the 2017 season, ending the contract early, which leads to the next point.

Lurie’s Track Record with Coaches 

In his two decades as Eagles owner, Lurie has been known to exhibit patience with head coaches. Ray Rhodes held the position for four seasons, and Andy Reid, obviously the stronger example, spent 14 years running the show. Other owners may have pulled the plug on Reid earlier, who did not win a playoff game in his final four seasons between 2009-2012. Many thought Reid should have been fired after the Eagles 2008 Super Bowl dreams came crashing down in the Arizona desert, but Lurie remained loyal to Reid until it became abundantly clear that a change was needed.

Lurie showed the utmost confidence in Kelly last January when he stripped Howie Roseman, who the owner had grown incredibly close with over the years, of personnel duties, handing the head coach more power. While Kelly has theoretically turned up the heat on himself with some controversial roster decisions, it is clear his owner believes in him after back-to-back 10 win seasons.

Most Coaches Who Come from College and Succeed in the NFL Don’t Go Back

Jim Harbaugh is the exception to this headline, heading home to bring his alma mater back to prominence. Other coaches who come from the college game and prove they can cut it in the NFL do not go back. The allure of winning a Super Bowl and proving that one’s system works at the game’s highest level is too attractive to even entertain college offers. Those who crash and burn like Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino return. The good ones do not.

The popular notion is that Kelly’s next coaching job will be at a big-time college football program, and that belief seems absolutely ridiculous to me. The much more likely scenario is Kelly coaching another NFL team (with less power than he currently has in Philadelphia should that experiment prove unsuccessful), which brings us to the final two considerations.

The Marcus Mariota Factor 

After a successful start to his head-coaching career in Arizona, Ken Wisenhunt is 20-44 in his last four seasons, including a rough 2-14 season with the Titans in 2014.

Picture the scenario right now. Sam Bradford doesn’t pan out as the franchise quarterback that Kelly believes he can be, and the Eagles end up just on the outside of the NFC playoff picture again. The Titans go 5-11 with Mariota having an inconsistent rookie season, and Tennessee’s brass reaches the conclusion that the right coach, his old coach, is the man to get them on track.

This is not so simple as Kelly would still be under contract with the Eagles. Furthermore, the entire scenario sounds absurd, but the Mariota connection will never fully go away so long as both are in the NFL.

New Hampshire Roots 

Kelly was born and spent much of his life pre-Oregon and Philadelphia days in New Hampshire. What NFL team is closest to New Hampshire?

While this may be the biggest stretch of them all, Kelly is close with and not so secretly admires Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Belichick is 63 years old. While the four-time champion has shown no signs of slowing down, it is reasonable to assume that he won’t coach forever.

If Belichick were to remain with the organization in some sort of consulting role and have influence in naming his replacement, it would not be surprising to see him recommend Kelly to Robert Kraft, and it is certainly fathomable that Kelly would embrace the opportunity to follow the legend.

So What’s the Verdict?

Having evaluated all of these factors, let’s make a prediction.

I might regret this, and it’s dangerous to say when someone is entering Year 3 without a solidified franchise quarterback, but I foresee Kelly with the Eagles for a long time.

Lurie trusts him, and Kelly is as driven as they come, hungry to prove that his innovative system works on the biggest football stage, ruling out the idea that he would voluntarily return to the college game. The only way he ends up back there is if 32 NFL franchises deem him unworthy of a job, and someone who wins 20 games over two seasons with a flawed roster that only had 12 victories over the previous two doesn’t forget how to coach overnight.

Marvin Lewis has lasted 12 seasons in Cincinnati despite never winning a playoff game. Kelly must aim higher than that, but all things considered, I think it’s likely that he is still wearing midnight green come the beginning of a new decade in 2020.

As for 2021? Well, that depends on if Mariota is in a Patriots jersey.

Countdown to Eagles Football — 43 Days: How Did Chip Kelly Do in HIs First Offseason with Full Control of the Roster?

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a 44-day series counting down the days until the Eagles season begins. The first part can be found here

Unlike yesterday’s question, the answer to this one is a lot more complicated and significant in terms of determining both the Eagles short and long-term outlook.

When Chip Kelly demanded final say over all roster decisions thus removing Howie Roseman’s title and responsibilities as Genera Manager in early January, he did it with one motivation in mind:

To make personnel decisions that would help take the franchise from good to great. Despite back-to-back 10 win seasons and an NFC East title in 2013, Kelly made the determination that the Eagles were too much of a fringe playoff contender and not close enough to competing for a Super Bowl where a few roster tweaks could get them there. He needed something more.

The merits of Kelly’s estimation can certainly be argued. As a counterpoint to Kelly’s findings, the Eagles beat a Colts team on the road that won 11 games and advanced to the AFC Championship.

They hung with the then defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks on the scoreboard in December before succumbing to a 24-14 defeat but were thoroughly outplayed and beaten up throughout the game.

Perhaps the biggest game in favor of Kelly’s argument was the embarrassing 53-20 mid-November loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field where Kelly’s Eagles were outclassed by a Green Bay team that ended up being minutes away from reaching the Super Bowl over Seattle.

Regardless of how the determination was made, it happened, and Kelly set out to overhaul a roster that will have at least 10 new starters come September 14th in Atlanta.

After three wild trades, some controversial departures, several free-agent acquisitions, thousands of Marcus Mariota rumors and one surprisingly calm draft, how did Kelly do in his first offseason running the show?

On the surface, it appears Kelly made parts of the Eagles better. The addition of Kiko Alonso in the LeSean McCoy trade gives the Eagles their most talented inside linebacker since Jeremiah Trotter’s first stint in midnight green.

Whether or not DeMarco Murray can come close to repeating a career year in 2014 remains to be seen, but him and Ryan Mathews give the Eagles more running back depth while simultaneously weakening their biggest division rival.

Byron Maxwell is an instant upgrade in the secondary, one that was in desperate need of improvement when facing Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham, and DeSean Jackson twice a year.

Rather than overpaying to retain the services of Jeremy Maclin, Kelly elected to go the cheaper route and attempt to replace him with rookie first round draft Nelson Agholor. Had the Eagles overpaid for Maclin, they may have been unable to afford a guy like Maxwell.

All of these moves on paper make sense. On the opposing side of things, Kelly did not do much to upgrade offensive line depth or talent at the safety position, two spots that are glaring question marks as the Eagles head into camp. Any injury to the likes of Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, or Malcolm Jenkins could spell doom for the birds rather quickly.

Then, there’s the biggest move of all. Kelly’s first offseason will largely be defined by the successes or failures of Sam Bradford in his system and Nick Foles in St. Louis. Kelly did not simply elect to swap quarterbacks with him getting the less accomplished one. He also surrendered a 2016 second round draft pick for the oft-injured Bradford who is scheduled to make 13 million dollars this season in the final year of his rookie contract while Foles is scheduled to make less than two million with the Rams.

The previous two sentences underscore the biggest question mark about Kelly as a GM. It is abundantly clear to anyone who has watched the Eagles over the past two seasons that the man can coach, and his ability to identify talent going back to his Oregon days is impressive.

The unknown lies in the asset management component of being a genera manager, something that can often be overlooked but essential in ensuring that the team is set up well for both the present and future.

Would a more experienced GM have been able to execute the Bradford-Foles trade without giving up the extra draft pick, something that maybe could have enticed the Titans more in an offer for Mariota. When Kelly signed Maxwell and Murray, was he bidding against himself in those negotiations and did he need to pay them as much as he did?

When Roseman had heavy influence in the draft, there are stories of Kelly overvaluing certain players like Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and Taylor Hart, wanting to select them a round before most other teams would have, and having to be walked back by Roseman, assuring him that they would be available when they picked again.

Maybe veteran GM’s wouldn’t have the guts to do what Kelly is doing, and if Bradford stays healthy and turns into the franchise quarterback that the Rams once hoped he would be, no one will care very much about the lost second round pick.

Still, football players are not acquired in a vacuum. There is an opportunity cost, both present and future, to every decision made, and whether or not Kelly can master the asset and resource allocation part of the job remains to be seen.

As I have stated previously on Twitter and in 10 Things I Think I Think, I don’t believe Kelly’s offseason has the Eagles worse than the 2014 season, but there is a small fear that he rearranged chairs on the Titanic as opposed to strengthening the collective roster.

Ultimately the Eagles are in better shape with Kelly doing everything as opposed to Kelly coaching somewhere else and doing nothing at all. Time will tell whether he is as capable of a general manager as he is a coach.

The first seven months have sure been something

An Early Chance to Exorcise Dallas Demons

Reactionary posts to the NFL schedule being released normally aren’t my thing.

There are a bunch of folks feverishly playing win-loss with the schedule not yet even two hours old and meaningful football still nearly five months away. I have always maintained that I don’t go on the record with predictions until the conclusion of the final preseason game. Why do so now when you have even more information at your disposal on Labor Day Weekend?

Despite the opening sentence here and aforementioned paragraph, I thought this would be a good time to emerge and update this blog for the first time since the fateful day in January when Chip Kelly gave several Eagles fans mini heart attacks before winning a power struggle against Howie Roseman.

I’m doing this because I deemed it necessary when I checked my phone at 8 p.m. and my eyes gravitated towards the following:

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That’s a home opener against Dallas — The first such occurrence since the 2002 season, and the earliest the teams have played since 2008.

From an emotional standpoint, it’s exciting. From a football standpoint, it’s scary. It’s scary because the Eagles have a disturbing recent trend that I don’t believe is addressed nearly enough:

They can’t beat Dallas at home.

Dallas has escaped Lincoln Financial Field with victories in three consecutive seasons. Go back all the way to 2007, and the Eagles have only held serve at home against their arch rivals twice. The average margin of victory in the past three Cowboys victories is 13.3. In other words, it hasn’t been that close.

It set the Cowboys up to win the division back in 2009 and did the same last December, this time keeping the Eagles out of the playoffs altogether. Had the Eagles won on that miserable Sunday night, they would have essentially had the NFC East wrapped up with two weeks to play. Instead, they lost their grip on the division and playoff positioning.

Had the Eagles repeated their Thanksgiving day performance and won a game that many expected them to, who knows what might have happened. Nick Foles might still be the Eagles quarterback — or maybe Mark Sanchez. Kelly, with a playoff team for two straight seasons, may never have felt the need to march into Jeffrey Lurie’s office and demand more power. Maybe LeSean McCoy would still be in midnight green and DeMarco Murray still in Dallas.

No one knows.

What we do know is that the Eagles have struggled on their home turf recently against their biggest competition for the division crown.

Week 2 presents a chance to end a losing streak that spans four seasons, three quarterbacks, and two head coaches. Given the wild offseason that could get even more crazy next Thursday, the football world will be quick to judge how the Eagles look coming out of the gate.

It’s only one game, but it sure is symbolic, and it could determine how much games a few months down the road matter.

Other Random Schedule Thoughts:

  • The Eagles are 6-2 in primetime under Chip Kelly. No qualms about opening on Monday Night in Atlanta.
  • Speaking of one of those two losses, if there’s a random game I want to win, it’s the contest against the Saints at home stemming from the playoff loss in January 2014. A faction of Eagles Twitter who never liked Nick Foles has mockingly labeled it the ‘Foles left the field with a lead’ game. After outplaying Drew Brees and leading a nice fourth quarter comeback to put the Eagles in the lead before a raucous home crowd, Foles and the Eagles offense stood on the sideline while the Saints ended their season on a field-goal at the gun. I sometimes randomly wake up in the middle of the night thinking about that game and what could have been for both Foles and the Eagles. There’s a score to settle.
  • If I had to pick an early trap game, it’s potentially Tampa Bay. It’s not that I think they’ll be good, but it’s sandwiched between a couple tough opponents and an easy chance to be looking ahead.
  • Love that there’s a bye before the second Dallas game in early November.
  • Love even more that we’re turning up on Turkey Day again, this time in Detroit.
  • While it didn’t help against Seattle last season following a mini bye after Thanksgiving, a few extra prep days for the Patriots certainly cannot hurt.

Chip Kelly, Power, and the Trend of Increasing Expectations

The two-year anniversary of Chip Kelly’s hiring in Philadelphia is 13 days away.

For an hour or two yesterday afternoon, there was some fear that January 16 could arrive with the innovative Eagles coach elsewhere, fed up with dysfunction in the Eagles front office and friction with now former general manager Howie Roseman.

Thankfully everyone across the Delaware Valley can take a nice, deep breath.

The Eagles in their tweet used the verb “elevated” to describe Roseman’s new role. Perhaps he will get a new coffee machine in his office, a bigger desk, a shiny new nameplate, and a higher salary, but he lost control of the one thing he always aspired to do — Be an NFL GM.

Kelly wrestled it away from him, and as the coach has done so many times in his brief but eventful two years, once again raised expectations for himself and the team he coaches and now runs completely.

More than fast-paced offenses or sport science techniques, quickly raising expectations has been the overarching theme of Kelly’s rookie and sophomore NFL seasons.

For as pumped as I was when Kelly was hired, a lot of folks might be surprised to learn that I envisioned a scenario where he might not make the playoffs until Year 3. As I wrote a week ago, Andy Reid left his roster in absolute shambles, and Kelly was tasked with cleaning up a mess on the fly.

I predicted the Eagles would go 7-9 or 8-8 in 2013, a very respectable improvement from 4-12 under a first year coach. I assumed they would improve by another game or two this past season, and then really make their big move in 2015.

The idea that they could immediately go from a 4-12 punching bag to a 10-6 playoff team was farfetched to say the least, and no other 2013 coaching candidate would have been able to do it, including Bruce Arians, who like Kelly has had back-to-back double digit win seasons in Arizona but also only one playoff appearance due to a deep NFC.

It happened though, of course, in another example of Kelly raising the bar faster than even most of his biggest believers could have anticipated.

When he opted for a flawed but experienced Michael Vick over a — at the time — unproven Nick Foles, expectations were immediately raised with the idea that maybe the Eagles could compete in a wide open NFC East.

When Kelly unveiled his offense to a national audience on September 9, 2013 with Vick running it flawlessly en route to a 33-27 win over the defending NFC East champion Redskins, expectations were raised again.

The following week, some reporters who had covered him at Oregon claimed he would take the league by storm and win 11 or 12 games in his first season.

They were a game off, but when Vick inevitably suffered an injury in the fifth game of the season and folks realized that Foles could play, expectations quickly shot up again.

Nothing may have increased expectations more than the division title in Year 1 though. While still a couple rungs below the Seahawks, the Eagles were tossed around as a darkhorse Super Bowl candidate this past summer, and for three months, that looked pretty spot on.

The 23-point Thanksgiving victory in Dallas raised hope even more.

Brief setbacks sometimes followed the raised optimism though. The three game losing streak in 2013 after the opening victory, the back-to-back home losses to the Cowboys and Giants last October that produced a total of three offensive points, and of course, the mini collapse this past December.

All of those slight bumps were quickly countered though, and that is what Kelly did again yesterday.

There is no more ambiguity as to who has final say on certain personnel matters. We thought we knew before, but there is no doubt now.

If the Eagles fleece another team in a trade and acquire a player the caliber of Darren Sproles or Cody Parkey, Kelly gets all the credit. If the Eagles draft another version of Marcus Smith, who cannot play, in the first round, Kelly shoulders the blame.

We know Kelly can coach after consecutive 10-win seasons. We are pretty confident he can evaluate talent based on his four years at Oregon. We will soon find out whether or not he can draft.

During his tenure so far, the Eagles have had one really good draft, which played a large role in their quick turnaround, and one bad draft, which hindered them from making more progress in Year 2.

Let’s hone in on the 2014 draft and the Smith pick for a second. No one knows who had final say on that inexplicable decision, but yesterday’s reshuffling gives me more belief that it was Roseman who made the final call there.

For as much as Kelly wanted to have his best players on the field last Sunday to win, I find it odd that he wouldn’t allow Smith to see the field a little bit if he was planning on walking into Jeffrey Lurie’s office demanding more power against one of the owner’s closest allies and had to hold himself accountable for a first round rookie gone wrong.

More than likely, Roseman, who was decent at his job but also made his share of mistakes, made the pick and Kelly realized it couldn’t happen again if the Eagles were going to take the next step from a good team to a great team.

This April, it is Kelly’s show to run. Time will tell whether or not that is a good thing, but expectations will only grow.

Be it a free agent splash, releasing a productive veteran player, mortgaging future draft picks to move up high enough to select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, or something else, the momentum will not stop.

Whether he will acknowledge it or not, raising expectations is what Kelly has always done — at New Hampshire as an offensive coordinator, at Oregon as first an offensive coordinator and then a head coach, and at Philadelphia as first a head coach and now in charge of player personnel decisions.

With great power comes great responsibility — and greater expectations.

Eagles Season Finale Haiku

Admittedly my consumption of today’s game consisted of about 80 percent Twitter, 15 percent Merrill Reese on the radio, and five percent television.

I am still on a bit of a Pinstripe Bowl high and spent most of the afternoon traveling back from New York City to Philadelphia for a family gathering tonight. Having not watched the game yet aside from a final few plays, I cannot evaluate a ton right now but wanted to get our final haiku in the books.

If you want a bigger fix for now, you can check out this post looking at what lies ahead from last week.

The following tweet is a broad overview of how I would like the offseason to go.

We will obviously get into the finer details hopefully as early as tomorrow but for now, enjoy our final haiku until the first preseason game sometime in August.

Double digit wins

Foles and Maclin back next year

Still ended too soon