What We've Learned About the Philadelphia Eagles Through 3 Games
The optimism I displayed last weekend about the Philadelphia Eagles dissipated somewhat upon seeing the clinic Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos put on Monday night against the Oakland Raiders, then realizing that's who they face next.
(As a Philly fan, you learn to keep your highs and lows at bay, lest intense therapy is required)
Speaking of learning, the lessons of this still-young season are still coming, but, after three games, trends have appeared and insight has been gained. Hint: Much of it comes as little surprise.
The five following things especially stand out...
LeSean McCoy Is an Elite Running Back
First, let's start with the positives.
During his first four seasons in the league, we knew LeSean McCoy was good. But because of a reluctance to consistently feed him the rock, we just weren't sure how good.
This just in: Shady's damn good. In fact, it says here he's currently the best running back in the NFL. And because he's currently leading everyone in total yards and on pace for more than 2,600 of them, it's hard to argue.
Still not convinced? Check out these sick highlights, all from just Week 1.
The Offense Can't Sustain Pace Without Another Weapon
And now, the harsh reality: Shady can't do it all by himself.
Hell, even if DeSean Jackson keeps up his impressive start (sans the foolish penalties) and Michael Vick plays more like the first two games than his last stinker, it still won't be enough to maintain the intended pace of this high-octane offense.
After rattling off an astounding 50 plays in the first half against the Washington Redskins, the Eagles managed only 58 total plays the entire following week against the San Diego Chargers. And a big part of the problem is that the opponents realize the weapons they possess are quite scarce.
It's becoming quite apparent that Riley Cooper isn't the answer as the second wide receiver, catching just 38 percent of balls thrown his way thus far. Jason Avant is steady and serviceable in the slot, but he isn't keeping cornerbacks up at night. Veteran tight end Brent Celek continues to be his inconsistent self, and his rookie counterpart Zach Ertz is still an unknown.
All of this adds up to an offense built to score but limited in ways of doing so.
Michael Vick Is Still Michael Vick
After more than a decade in the league, life circumstances may have changed who Michael Vick has become as a person, but he remains who he is as a player. A fun, new niche offensive system wasn't going to change that.
And the past two games are a typical microcosm of his career: One step forward, a couple of steps back. A career best 428 yards against the Chargers. An all-time dud resulting in a 49.4 passer rating against the Chiefs. A dynamic run followed by an ill-advised pass. He's the yin to his own yang.
And then there's the inevitability that his unapologetic recklessness on the field—a style that equally endears and frustrates his fans—will simply not allow him to stay healthy for an entire season.
The Defense Remains Flawed
The inability to get off the field on critical third downs (teams are 16-of-34 on conversions the past two games).
Hell, just the inability to get off the field in general (opponents more than doubling the time of possession of the Eagles in the same time span).
The coaches and much of the defensive personnel from last season may be gone, but somehow, the malodorous scent of 2012 still lingers. And it's a collective effort of futility.
Chip Kelly Remains a Work in Progress
And in a matter of just a week and change, Philly has put plans of erecting the Chip Kelly statue outside of Lincoln Financial Field on hold.
Reality has begun to sink in that—although when all is said and done, he may still be an extremely successful coach in this league—there is still much to work on.
Whether it's not knowing certain timeout rules, simply not managing the clock correctly or not adjusting a defense that repeatedly failed on third down when everyone and their mother knew that Alex Smith was throwing an under route to Donnie Avery (and how many frigging times do you let yourself fall for that...), well, Kelly is a work in progress.