Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Is Eagles home losing streak messing with their heads?

Thumbs down. An Eagles fan lets the team know what he thinks. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Thumbs down. An Eagles fan lets the team know what he thinks. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

You’ve heard all the reasoning and rationale behind it. The losses added up at home because the team wasn’t any good last season and the opponents tended to be a bit better this season and well, all of that may be true.

But so is this: Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.

And so is this: Streaks have a way of feeding on themselves, because they play with the mind.

Specifically, athletes tend to play outside of their abilities. They tend to add more importance to what should be inconsequential, such as the home team fans airing their own mounted frustrations in the form of boos. Watch a hockey team rush through the mechanisms of their power play at home amid impatient boos one night, then patiently execute it with precision on the road the next night. Then tell me the booing doesn’t affect these guys, or shouldn’t, because after all they are professionals.

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  • As if getting paid to play strips them of their humanity.

    Which brings me to the Eagles and their home winless streak, which has currently reached 10 games heading into this Sunday’s matchup with the Redskins. Given the Eagles road victory over Washington in Week 1 and the Redskins’ current 3-6 record, this would appear to be a golden opportunity to end the historic skid.

    But that’s how they got No.10, playing against a Giants team they had handled just two weeks before in the Meadowlands, and one that had struggled to beat the woeful Vikings just five days before at home. OK, they were down to their third-string quarterback for most of the game and New York had improved health, but still, it was the Giants. The same team that followed that victory by nearly losing to the Raiders. At home.

    No sooner had they warmed their toes in Green Bay last Sunday then Eagles players were being asked about playing at home, boos at home, the streak. DeSean Jackson got himself in a little trouble complaining about the boos. LeSean McCoy basically called it a poser, then later in the week issued a sort of mea culpa and a vow to do better.

    "I’m in the city a lot and I meet different fans and people and I hear a little of what they’re saying, and they’ve been here a long time rooting for the Eagles," he said. "So I can understand how they really feel and I wish I could something about it. I’m trying to. The message to the fans is, just have faith in us, have our backs. But it’s hard to really say that when we’re not putting up the stats and winning games and they’re spending their hard earned money to watch us."

    Sounds a little like that struggling power play, no? On Monday I asked Chip Kelly if, as often as they are asked, the losing streak can weigh on his players minds, make them play outside of themselves.

    "No. I don't think that's our mindset. Our mindset is to win every single game we play. I watch these guys on a weekly basis prepare. And I don't think they say, ‘Hey, we're away, let's do this. We're home, let's do this.’ They're not like this.

    It's a consistent group in their approach. What is the answer for us not winning at home and being 5‑1 on the road? I don't know. If we knew it, we'd replicate it. Do we have to take the buses and drive around for a half hour before we go to the stadium? I don't know. If that was the answer, we would do it."

    Hey, it’s worth a try right? Or would that play on their minds even more?

    "We don't have the answer," Kelly said. "But I do think we have an advantage. We love playing at home. Our fans are outstanding. They deserve it. That's what our goal is right now. We have a one‑game season, and it's against the Washington Redskins. It's at home, and we're excited to get back into the Linc and play in front of our fans."

    Sam Donnellon Daily News Sports Columnist
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