When I first looked at this schedule I had the Bolts going all the way across the country into the unforgiving arms of the City of Brotherly Love and handing the Eagles a beating. Even before last week it was going to be a tough sell. We've had trouble in Philly before, even when we were largely considered the better team. Now, after our collapse in week one and the debut of Chip Kelly's NFL version of the Oregon offense, it'll be nearly impossible to convince anyone we have anything more than a chance to learn and grow in defeat tomorrow morning. If we're not universally picked to lose tomorrow, I have yet to find the prognosticator that bucked the trend. So, can a victory tomorrow be sold? Eh, I'll give it a shot.
I've already gone on record as saying Monday Night's game was more of a good sign than a bad sign. You have to admit-unless you're a local hater-that we came out with intensity and controlled that game for more than a half before it slipped away from us. At times this looked more like the team we expected to field for the last six years than the team we actually fielded for the last six years. Sadly, the intensity of Houston's Wade Phillips designed defense proved too much for us to overcome when they ratcheted up the pressure in the second half. Our offense absolutely has to be what defines our team. If they can live up to their potential-and believe me, the potential is there!-then all the defense has to do is show up on Sunday and try not to embarrass themselves too much. Alas, the offense couldn't keep their foot on the peddle and the Texans just got stronger when the blood hit the water.
The Eagles defense also looked impressive last week, punishing a Redskins QB in RG III who looked crippled to the point of downright Riversian proportions in the first half. And the offense was a monster as well. Both units played as strong and fast a half of football as your ever going to see. Then the second half happened and it was less impressive. The Skins got back into that game and the Eagles barely seemed to have enough in the tank to ultimately hold them back for the victory. The Eagles share a lot in terms of perception with our Chargers. If they had given up the win to Washington nobody this past week would have been talking about Chip Kelly's high flying circus, they'd be talking about the Eagles culture of losing, much like they are about us right now.
So, tomorrow you have two teams that came out and played a dominating first half and wilted in the second. If-and it's a big if this early in the season- we can match them or at least keep them in striking distance in the first half, then I think we stand a good chance of stealing this thing in the second. If both teams are gassed by midway through quarter three, as they seemed to be last week, then I think we have the advantage. Their game plan on both sides of the ball is extremely speed reliant. And once you start to slow down from fatigue, it's hard to get that back. Those shifty formations are a lot less shifty in slow motion. We just have to play smart, and I think we have more smart on our team. The Eagles are a team full of guys who can't get out of their own way, and I'm not ready to buy that a brand new NFL head coach and one week of impressive football against a crippled division rival has fixed that completely.
So there's my pitch. I hope you like it. I know it's a hard sell. We're probably the only team in NFL history to play our first game until 11:00PM on a Monday only to reconvene for week two on the other side of the country six days later at what is actually 10:00AM for us while being afternoon for the home team. But what the hell, I have faith in spades these days. Just writing this has made me feel better, I hope it did something for you.