Eagles are still in the race
Bounceability is a great word.
It's not actually a word, but that shouldn't detract from its brilliance. Anyone who spent time around Paul "The Pope" Owens, the late general manager of the Phillies, knows exactly what it means. The Pope used to see someone in the morning who had consumed a few too many adult beverages the night before and remind him how important it was to have "bounceability."
The Eagles probably awoke Monday morning still hung over from embarrassment after they offered little resistance during the 52-20 beating administered by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Without using the word that's not a word, coach Chip Kelly expressed how important "bounceability" would be this week as the Eagles prepare for Sunday's game against the winless New York Giants.
"Yeah, we talk to everybody about that," Kelly said Monday afternoon. "I don't think that's uncommon when we've lost a couple games now."
Two is a couple, Chip. Three is a losing streak.
"We have to talk about what our attitude is like and how we approach this week getting ready to go play the Giants," Kelly said. "[Tuesday] we come back starting with meetings: What's their mind-set like, what's their energy level like, what's it going to be like when they hit the practice field?"
The rookie coach is anticipating positive answers to all those questions and it really should not be difficult to motivate his team even after three straight losses following an opening-night win in Washington. All he has to do is print and post the NFL standings.
These last three weeks are proof that the Eagles would be in over their heads in the AFC West and that they are a long way from beating an elite team such as the Broncos. What the last three weeks haven't done is count out the Eagles from winning the woeful NFC East. A win Sunday against the Giants combined with an anticipated loss by the Dallas Cowboys to Manning and the Broncos would leave the Eagles in a tie for first place in their division.
Why would you arrive at work any other way than ready knowing that a playoff berth is well within reach?
This is an odd situation, but not an unprecedented one. The NFC East has produced more Super Bowl winners (12) and participants (20) than any division in football and no team has ever won the division without being better than .500. There's a good chance 8-8 will get the job done this year and it's even possible that 7-9 could do the trick the way it did for the Seattle Seahawks in 2010.
The Seahawks weren't a threat to win the Super Bowl that year, but they did win a playoff game in New Orleans and it was the start of a pretty good building process for then rookie head coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks absorbed their share of beatings that season.
It is important to remember that Kelly and his coaching staff took on a rebuilding project when they arrived in Philadelphia. The Eagles weren't good at anything last year and they haven't been consistently good at anything so far this year.
Kelly likes to remind us in subtle ways about how long it took to build Rome. He usually does it by referring to one of his young players such as Mychal Kendricks, Lane Johnson or Zach Ertz and how he expects them to struggle as they adapt to playing at the game's highest level. It is known as adjusting to the speed of the game and only the greatest players do not have to experience it.
It helps all young players when they take part in meaningful games even if they are only meaningful because the division is devoid of quality. The meaningful games will also allow Michael Vick to keep his job as Eagles quarterback for the long haul.
Kelly said after Sunday's lopsided loss that Vick would remain his quarterback and he should. To blame the quarterback for what happened in Denver would be like blaming the president for gas prices. So far, Vick has played two good games, one bad one and one mediocre one. He deserves to keep his job.
Still, it is fair to assume that if the Eagles were in a stronger division that we'd probably see a change in quarterback from Vick to Nick Foles at some point this season. That would give Kelly and the coaching staff a better chance to evaluate what they have in Foles before next year's draft. Regardless, it is probable that they will take a quarterback in the early rounds.
For now, however, the Eagles are in a playoff race even after Sunday's disgrace.
"Ready to go," is how Kelly described his personal demeanor. "Going to go play the Giants. Put the [Denver] game to bed last night."
The coach probably had the spins as he watched it, but he showed good "bounceability" by Monday morning.