The Heat Is On The Philadelphia Eagles Already
The Philadelphia Eagles were a team to watch to start the 2015 NFL season. After a couple of ten win seasons, Chip Kelly decided to make some changes to his team. He decided to either trade, cut or let go running back LeSean “Shady” McCoy, quarterback Nick Foles, offensive lineman Evan Mathis, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and others and replaced them with either someone younger pieces or players that he felt fit what he wanted to do. A few of those players he brought in were quarterback Sam Bradford (traded Nick Foles to St. Louis in order to obtain him) running back DeMarco Murray from the Dallas Cowboys and defensive back Byron Maxwell from the Seattle Seahawks. Those additions along with the buzz around Chip Kelly and his relationship with his former players put the attention squarely on this team. Would the Eagles come out and wreck shop or would they come out and not justify the hype?
After one game, it looks like the Eagles did not meet the hype. Bradford was lackadaisical in the first half. He began to get it going in the second half and ended the night throwing for 336 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. As far as Murray, his debut did not go as well as he would have wanted. He ended up scoring two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving), but the nine yards on eight carries was something that even he had to be shocked by. But what may have shocked some was the performance of Maxwell. He was going against one of the top receivers in the NFL, Julio Jones. But with that being said, he was signed to be the top corner for this team and main deterrent to top receivers. Instead, he was taken advantage of numerous time by Julio Jones along with veteran wide receiver Roddy White. He had some bright moments, but the play of Maxwell was not what some fans expected of him. The Eagles would go on to lose the game to the Falcons in Atlanta and it definitely surprised some people. All of sudden, the Eagles went from being the most talked about to potentially being one of the most desperate teams out there. And heading into Week 2, one of their biggest rivals comes to town. The Dallas Cowboys are riding some momentum after their thrilling victory against the New York Giants. And if they are able to come into Philadelphia and beat the Eagles, that will give them the upper hand on both the Eagles and the Giants to start the season. So with that being said, there is a level of pressure on the Eagles already this season.
The Eagles have a level of expectation that was created by Chip Kelly. He has reinvigorated the fanbase with his refreshing style of play and he also has some Eagles fans believing that he will take them to a title. Whether that is true or not lies in the heads of those fans and the actions of the team. But what can be said is true is the fact that teams that fall to 0-2 to start the season don’t make the playoffs much. There have been some that have bucked the trend, most notably the New York Giants when they defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl during their undefeated season. But the reality is only 13.75% of teams make it to the playoffs after starting 0-2. For the Eagles, they don’t want to add more pressure than they have to, so Sunday is almost a must-win for them if they plan on making the playoffs. They must learn from the game in Atlanta last week and come out with a sense of urgency from the beginning of the game. It was evident that the Eagles offense came out in a malaise last week and that is something that cannot happen for them. DeMarco Murray has probably looked back at his first game as an Eagle and is chomping at the bit to get back out there. But what makes the game even sweeter for him is that he is going against a team that used to employ him. If that does not fire him up and make him run even harder, then I don’t know what will. And if he comes out and runs like he can, then the rest of the Eagles offense will follow and things will come easier for them. That will also make Bradford more comfortable as well, and open up the field for him to take advantage of the playmakers he has at the receiver and tight end positions. Another thing to take a look at is the performance of the defensive backs. They caught a break in regards to not facing Dez Bryant due to injury. But that does not mean the job gets easier. The Cowboys will still be making some plays in the air with quarterback Tony Romo and he can make you look silly at times as a defensive back. Byron Maxwell may want to pay attention this week and he also may want to atone for the first regular season game he had in Atlanta for the Eagles. If he comes out and plays like they paid him to, the Eagles secondary will be better and the confidence will permeate throughout the team. And with the big guys they have up front, this team could cause some problems and make some things happen.
The Eagles surely have some questions to answer in this game and there are some for Dallas to answer as well. But there is no doubt that this team wants to atone for the performance in Week One. And unlike the first game, the pressure has picked up. The question is will they respond or have to fight that uphill battle to make the playoffs after an 0-2 start? We shall know the answer Sunday night.