The 5 Reasons Why The Philadelphia Eagles Being In First Place Makes No Damn Sense


This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Philadelphia Eagles, the ushering in of a new regime, a new era and a new philosophy for the organization. The mainstays were cast out, from the coach to the big-name busts to folks in the front office. Everything was new, and new takes time to come together. The 2013 NFL season was supposed to be about building toward the future for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Yet here we are, 11 weeks through the season, and the Philadelphia Eagles somehow sit atop the woefully pathetic NFC East. And with a favorable schedule to play out the remainder of the regular season, suddenly a playoff spot does not seem far-fetched for a team that finished 4-12 last season amid turmoil, roster turnover and heads rolling. This makes absolutely no damn sense, and here's why.

Chip Kelly's Offense Was Supposed To Be Too Gimmicky

Yes, many people were calling Chip Kelly an offensive football genius whose offense would revolutionize the NFL — but just as many naysayers emerged, proclaiming Kelly's offensive philosophy a college offense that worked due to the Oregon Ducks having faster, better players than the majority of their opponents. In the NFL, every team is big and fast and physical. There would be no more physical advantages, thus Kelly's offense was supposed to fall flat — or at least come back down to earth.

Well, right from the jump, Kelly put those talks to rest, as the Eagles hung 33 points on the Washington Redskins in a blur, racking up 443 yards of offense. Instantly, Kelly was gaining praise … but when opposing defenses caught up to speed, so to speak, and the offense stalled a bit, the naysayers looked to be pouncing. So what did Kelly do? He kept his offense … but he's utilized more traditional fundamentals to get back on track — great blocking, running the ball and utilizing the explosive weapons the Eagles have. It's resulted in the Eagles putting up 25 points per game, while averaging more than 400 total yards and more than 150 yards rushing a game.


The Riley Cooper Situation Threatened To Derail The Entire Season

The last thing Chip Kelly needed upon his arrival in Philadelphia was a reason for his team to be distracted. Yet that's exactly what he got when Riley Cooper, projected to be the starting wide receiver opposite DeSean Jackson with Jeremy Maclin missing the season due to injury, uttered a racial slur at a country music concert with the intentions of fighting. Here was Cooper with a chance of lifetime, and what did he do with it? He said something that irked many teammates and had the potential to divide the locker room.

On top of that, Cooper got off to a dreadful start, struggling to get separation and playing some of the worst football of any starting wide receiver in the league. Things looked grim … only the majority of his teammates stuck up for him, and Chip stuck with him. All that's resulted in is Cooper becoming a legitimately dangerous weapon opposite Jackson, leading the Eagles with seven touchdown receptions and putting up some insanely ridiculous games with Nick Foles under center: four catches for 120 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay, six receptions for 88 yards against Dallas, five catches for 139 yards and three scores against Oakland and three catches for 102 yards and two more scores against Green Bay. Not only did Cooper fail to divide the locker room … he's become a dangerous weapon in Philadelphia's offense.


If You Have 2 Quarterbacks, You Really Have None

The first thing Chip Kelly did when he got to Philadelphia was declare an open quarterback competition between Michael Vick and Nick Foles. Vick, the incumbent, won the job in training camp, but the decision was reportedly a difficult one for Kelly. Vick started off hot against Washington and San Diego and looked to be the entrenched starter … until he got hurt as his play slowly slipped, and Nick Foles came in to play brilliantly in Vick's absence.

And just when Foles was looking like he may take over for Vick for good … he laid an egg against the Cowboys with first place on the line, playing one of the worst games a quarterback can possibly play in the league. In an instant, Foles went from savior to fraud … but then after suffering his own concussion and Vick struggling after being rushed back from a hamstring injury, Foles was reinstated, threw seven touchdowns against the Raiders and has been brilliant ever since.

Foles has thrown 16 touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception this season. His 128.0 passer rating is off the charts. And contrary to popular belief, he's doing just fine in Kelly's system despite his lack of foot speed.

The common thought was the Eagles don't have a franchise quarterback on their roster this year with Vick being up there in age and Foles not considered elite. Now, Vick has proven he can still play and has become the leader in the Eagles' locker room, and Foles has played nothing short of brilliant football outside one game against Dallas. No one is ready to anoint him the quarterback to build around … but if he keeps playing like this, people may start that kind of talk pretty soon. The Eagles not only have two quarterbacks, but they have two of them who are helping each other be better players and better leaders.

This Defense Was Supposed To Be Offensive

Here, I'm going to pass things off to my colleague Mark Trible: After the last few years of dreadful defense, I hoped Gus Bradley would get the job. At least Bradley would fix the defense, I thought. Instead, Chip took over — thank God — and he hired Billy Davis. Bill Davis. No reason to get excited there. The team added Connor Barwin, a huge white guy with a mohawk. Predictably, the defense looked awful as it did last year, except no-names were failing rather than big names. Now, they seem to be growing together. Although the yardage totals have been a bit high, the D has allowed 21 points or less in the last seven games. It's especially delightful because a trip to the red zone used to mean a guaranteed six. Opponents' last 12 red zone trips resulted in two touchdowns and — gasp — even a couple turnovers.

There's something refreshing about a group of mostly no-names playing hard for one another and making a difference. It's not going to be confused with the '85 Bears anytime soon, but it's sure as hell better than before.

Chip Kelly Does Some Really Dumb Things

For all the great things Chip Kelly is doing with the Philadelphia Eagles, he has and continues to make some, shall we say, baffling decisions. Going for two against the Chiefs on his team's first score of the game, unsuccessfully I might add. Not challenging on clear calls that would be overturned. Curious onside kicks. Incredibly baffling use of timeouts. Odd decisions to go for it when a punt or field goal is order, while attempting a 60-yard field goal that gave the opposition a chance at a last-second hail mary to close the half.

Chip Kelly has done some things that make you question if he even understands the rules of football, or at least NFL football. And he doesn't seem to be getting any better in some of these instances. It's probably just a case of a guy coming from college with an ultra-aggressive philosophy needing to learn the hard way. I'm sure Chip will figure out all the nuances of coaching in the NFL. But he keeps making these crazy decisions … yet the Eagles keep on succeeding, and here they sit at 6-5 and atop the NFC East all by themselves.

It makes no sense. None at all. Your 2013 Philadelphia Eagles are leading the division and sitting in the driver's seat for a trip to the playoffs, despite all the evidence that suggests they don't belong anywhere near postseason play. In a season that was supposed to be about the future, the Eagles are proving the only thing that really matters in the NFL is the present, plain and simple.

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