As we look at the NFL and what happens to players and teams during the course of a season, no one should be predicting anything, anymore when the schedules come out. What may seem like wins or losses over the summer just don’t pan out that way anymore. This league has become too unpredictable. The Texans are terrible. The Redskins are abominable. The Giants stink. And somehow this past week the Cardinals beat the powerhouse Seahawks in Seattle!
If anyone had told me the Eagles would beat the Packers, beat the Redskins twice and that they’d lose to the Vikings and Chargers back in August, I’d have laughed at them. We all thought we had an idea of how these games would turn out. But who could have predicted these games? No one really could have. Heck, even conventional wisdom isn’t allowing us to pick against the Jaguars these days after they won 3 straight games a short time ago. Who would have thought that when pundits and “experts” said they’d likely go 0-16?
Conventional wisdom is something of the past when trying to predict games, and particularly with this Philadelphia Eagles team. They’re a young team. They’re a talented team and one that has made a ton of waves when hardly anyone predicted them to do so.
Fans knew that LeSean McCoy was good and a special running back, but I’m not sure we thought he’d have 1,476 rushing yards and 536 yards receiving (2,012 total yards) after 15 games. He still has one game left, and a point to prove once and for all—that he’s the best running back in the NFL, which I, probably with bias, believe he is.
Many of us thought Nick Foles should have been the starting quarterback from the beginning of the season. But no one could have predicted him to have this kind of dominating season after stepping in for Michael Vick. 25 touchdowns, only 2 interceptions and the highest passer rating in the NFL at 118.8 leaves some to believe he’s truly MVP material. He has shown to have tremendous overall instinct for a 2nd year QB. Getting rid of the ball, not forcing passes and even taking sacks to prevent turnovers has been a staple within his leadership on the field. No one could have predicted his success so early. It’s only going to get better in the years to come. Move over Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
The offensive line has gelled and stayed healthy, which is a dramatic improvement over a year ago when injuries plagued the front five. While obviously still learning and feeling his way as a pro, rookie RT Lane Johnson was the best 1st round draft pick in years. (I’ll eat crow after saying the Birds should have drafted CB Dee Milliner, who hasn’t played well at all this season). The athleticism and agility of the o-line cannot be dismissed and they’re likely the best in the league. I don’t think anyone would have predicted complete domination from Peters, Mathis, Kelce, Herremans, and Johnson.
The one prediction no one could have made deals with head coach Chip Kelly. The brazen media from day one, which was no real surprise, were doubters about how his college coaching philosophy could be brought to the pros. Raising doubt and stirring up the masses is what the Philly sports media does best. The constant “does he have what it takes to be a NFL coach” got very old quickly.
Sure, some college coaches like Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Butch Davis, and Steve Spurrier are just a few successful college coaches who failed miserably in the NFL. While college coaches don’t have the best track record in the pros, countless people got it wrong with Kelly. He’s a coach who seems to relish in the experience of learning from winning and losing football games. He’s unorthodox. He runs a different style of practice than any other team. From reports, practice is much faster than game day play. Aside from the unique playbook, he takes and dissects sports science. Football is his life, literally.
Over the summer, I remember reading an article on Football Nation by David Guidera listing the reasons why Chip Kelly would fail. Some of those reasons:
- Kelly’s offense arrived in the NFL well before he did. Defenses already know how to scheme against it,
- Philly isn’t like Eugene, OR,
- The PAC 12 is nothing like the NFC East, and
- College coaches rarely find success in the NFL, overall.
Boy, was this guy and his short-sighted column off the mark. We’ve heard these arguments before, of course, but Kelly has proven the disbelievers and skeptics wrong. Period. Eight games with 30-plus points or more on the season should silence the “he’s already been figured out” crowd. No, he hasn’t been figured out.
Before the season started and during one of our podcast shows, I predicted a 10-6 season for the Eagles. I had absolutely nothing to base that prediction on aside from what we heard during OTA’s, training camp, a lot of hope and a gamble. Not too many people expected the Eagles to be playoff contenders at the beginning of this season (and even midway through the season), and frankly, I’m shocked my 10-6 prediction may come true after next week’s game in Dallas.
So, let’s stop making senseless predictions at the beginning of the season when we know that anything can happen with this Eagles team. That is the only thing we can say with certainty.