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Fan-Demonium: How Will They Respond?

Posted Oct 1, 2013

There aren't a whole lot of positives to take from a 52-20 defeat. The Broncos thoroughly beat the Eagles Sunday and showed everyone what a Super Bowl favorite should look like. 

I think the Eagles players can learn from the experience. Think back to the season opener. The Eagles played well for most of the game and won. It was fun. The Broncos dismantled the Eagles on Sunday in a systematic way. They executed on offense, defense and special teams. They took advantage of the Eagles' mistakes. Denver also made plays on their own merit. They had a couple of self-inflicted errors, but mostly played a clean game. They forced the Eagles to stop them and that didn't happen very often. That's what a championship-level team looks like up close. 

The Eagles' win in the opener was a step in the right direction, but was miles from where the Broncos are. The Eagles' goal is to get to that point, become a team that wins in every phase of the game. Head coach Chip Kelly wants a smart football team. Denver is talented and athletic, but also very smart. They can beat you before or after the snap. They see things really well and get to the right spot. That's the kind of football Kelly would love to see the Eagles play. 

There were some tough defeats in Andy Reid's first year with the Eagles. He lost to Peyton Manning and the Colts 44-17. Another loss really stood out to me. The Eagles lost to the Carolina Panthers 33-7. It was after that game when Reid cut defensive tackle Bill Johnson. Reid could deal with the losing, but he didn't like Johnson's handling of the loss. Johnson was joking around after the game and Reid didn't want his team to accept losing. He sent a message by cutting Johnson. 

Kelly hasn't made any moves so he must be satisfied with the way the players are handling things. Kelly is ultra-competitive and wants to win in the worst way, but he's also smart enough to know that cutting or benching players for no real reason isn't the way to go. If someone had the wrong attitude, I'm sure Kelly would have taken some action, just as Reid did. 

Fans live and die with games, but players can't do that. Football is business to them. They must be able to move past the game once it is over and start focusing on the next opponent. Fans and the media can dissect the Broncos game, but players are already preparing for the Giants. That's life in the NFL. You live in the moment and then move on to the next challenge. 

Lawlor

Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.

I think the Eagles showed some potential in the Broncos game. The final score was completely lopsided, but remember that the game was 14-13 at one point. The Eagles were able to move the ball. The offense looked good in stretches. The big problem early on was scoring touchdowns. The Eagles were bogged down in the red zone and had to settle for field goals. You can't do that and beat a top team like Denver. "Good enough" isn't good enough when you are facing Peyton Manning. 

Kelly is trying to get the Eagles to play at a high level, regardless of the opponent. That's what Denver is doing now and I'm sure Kelly will stress that angle to his players. The Broncos didn't come out and play well enough to win. They played the best game they possibly could. All coaches want their teams to think like that and play like that, but it is hard to get players to buy in. Players are human beings. They see a bad team and it's hard to stay as focused. That's where having a leader like Manning is so special. He is a coach on the field. He won't accept anything less than greatness from his teammates. He's willing to be a jerk if that's what it takes. But playing "good enough" won't be tolerated any more than losing. 

The Eagles don't have a player like that right now. Not many teams do.

The Eagles do have a great set of running backs. LeSean McCoy rushed 16 times for 73 yards and that was a quiet day for him. He was close to breaking some runs, but Denver always had a defender who was able to get hold of a foot or ankle and keep him from busting loose. Bryce Brown didn't have great numbers with eight carries for 19 yards, but you did see his potential. He had a couple of nice runs on outside zone plays. He also caught a screen pass and turned that into a 35-yard gain. If not for slipping, he might have had a long touchdown on the play. 

Chris Polk finally got some time at running back. He scored his first touchdown on a 4-yard run right up the middle. Polk had a run in the fourth quarter that was very impressive. He got the ball and headed right. A linebacker tried to tackle him and Polk just fought through the attempt. He broke free and got outside. Another defender hit him. He got Polk off-balance and Polk then went out of bounds. He was only a couple of steps from breaking that run for a long touchdown. Polk had to settle for a 28-yard gain. He also had a 13-yard catch. The best sign for me is that Polk didn't hesitate with the ball. He's not like McCoy. Polk can't dance and make guys miss. He has to get the ball and go. He did just that, running hard. It took multiple defenders to bring him down. 

We got to see Zach Ertz show his athleticism on a 38-yard catch-and-run. Jeff Maehl took advantage of his playing time. He had a 37-yard catch-and-run. On the very next play, Maehl scored the first touchdown of his career. That came on a quick screen. 

The defense just had a rough day all around. Bill Davis and his players need to let that game go. Manning had an answer for whatever they tried. Things were rough for Jim Johnson in his first year when he faced Manning so don't be totally discouraged. The key isn't that the defense had a bad day. The key is how they respond. There is an old saying in football that you shouldn't lose a game twice. In other words, don't let what happened last week distract you from the task at hand. The Broncos game is history. You can't replay that game (thankfully). What you can do is have a good week of practice and get ready for the Giants. 

Sunday wasn't any fun, but it is over. This is Giants week. Go beat them and the Denver game will be a distant memory.

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