Way back in August prior to the start of the 2013 NFL regular season, knowing that Chip Kelly, as a first year head coach jumping from the college ranks to the NFL, and coming off of a 4-12 season a year before, the expectations among Philadelphia Eagles fans were pretty much on the bottom shelf.
If the Eagles could improve on the 2012 season record, even if only by one more win, Philadelphia fans were willing to consider it a successful transition. With all the changes to the coaching staff and roster personnel, some fans would have even taken a worse record if the Eagles showed some heart.
With week 17 rapidly approaching, Chip Kelly has made quite the impression in the NFL ranks. He has the Eagles sitting at 9-6 and has a firm grasp on first place in the NFC East. With a do-or-die situation on Sunday against a very badly battered Dallas Cowboys, nobody inside the NovaCare Complex is thinking about sitting, it’s not even an option in the mind of Chip Kelly.
Per numerous reports earlier in the week, the Cowboys are going to be without their franchise quarterback Tony Romo in a game that, like the Eagles, is all or nothing. Romo did receive an injection to help heal his ailing back and hopes to be healthy enough to play. But if he can’t it will be backup Kyle Orton who will try to lead the Cowboys past the Eagles secondary.
The problem, for Orton, is Philadelphia’s defense is coming off of one of their best performances of the season, allowing Jay Cutler and a duo of receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey to just 11 points.
But Romo is just one of many injured Dallas players.
Receiver Dez Bryant is also having a back injury of his own. And even though he will likely suit up on Sunday there is a potential he might not be 100 percent which could hinder his production in the all-important game for division bragging rights. And the Cowboys will also likely be without Sean Lee (LB) who has not practiced all week.
On the flip side, the (Midnight) greener side, Chip Kelly’s decision to implement Shaun Huls as the Eagles Sports Science Coordinator has payed off in big ways. The Eagles are all but virtually healthy heading into the season finale with the only two players not participating at practice is (S) Colt Anderson and (G) Julian Vandervelde.
With a team that is as healthy as Philadelphia is this late in the season, coming off a huge win last week, setting team and league records what seems like every week, and the playmakers showing up on both sides of the ball, the Eagles are a very dangerous team to tamper with. Knowing how explosive they are and the hunger to not only make it to the playoffs, but also return the losing favor back to Dallas and ending their season at the same time, the Cowboys better get prepared….to be embarrassed in front of their fans…who will likely leave well before the game ends.
Chip Kelly had his obstacles in front of him. A leaked video of Riley Cooper using a racial slur appears to be in the past, even among teammates like Cary Williams who scuffled with Cooper after the video of him went viral. The Eagles were at one point 2-5 and again dead last in the division before Michael Vick became injured and Nick Foles exploded onto the NFL scene and going on a five-game winning streak putting the Eagles in position to reach the playoffs.
No matter the outcome of Sunday’s NFC East showdown, which has been flexed to prime time, the fact will still remain. Chip Kelly will have far exceeded the expectations of the majority of Philadelphia Eagles fans.
Now, as I’ve been writing this article, the Eagles fan that I am is saying “yeah right, KICK THE COWBOYS ASS!”