To think the Eagles would play unblemished football in the first season of head coach Chip Kelly with a turned-over roster averaging 26 years of age (a tad younger now, with the trade of Isaac Sopoaga) and new schemes on both sides of the line of scrimmage would have been foolhardy, and so a 3-5 record, no matter how it has been reached, is about where the Eagles should be.
That remarkable first half against Washington set a high standard that the team has not been able to reach again. The Eagles caught some lightning in a bottle for those 30 minutes before settling back down to Earth.
Since then the ride has been, predictably, bumpy. From 1-0 to 1-3 to 3-3 to 3-5 and here we are, at the season's midway point.
What waits for the Eagles? Here is a look into the crystal ball ...
THE DEFENSE WILL CONTINUE TO IMPROVE
Terrelle Pryor and his unique skill set, along with a punishing rushing attack, present a series of challenges for the defense on Sunday, and then the real test comes against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Nobody is looking past Oakland, for the Raiders are an up-and-coming team playing physical football. Clearly, the Raiders believe in Pryor and he certainly has game-breaking abilities. The Eagles must be extremely disciplined in their approach on Sunday.
It's all about the young players up front as the Eagles are relying more and more on
I like the way the cornerbacks are playing, and safeties
There is still a lot of work to be done here, no question. The Eagles haven't allowed a lot of points in the last month and they've gained a lot in confidence. Upping their sack total, their takeaways, changing games with big plays ... these are the kinds of plays the very best defenses make. The Eagles are moving in that direction.
NICK FOLES WILL STABILIZE THE QUARTERBACK POSITION
He starts on Sunday in Oakland against a fast and tenacious defense.
This is a great chance for Foles to take the next step in his development. He played so well against the Giants and Bucs, only to struggle against Dallas. Every quarterback experiences those kinds of games. The best ones bounce back with strong performances and learn from their struggles.
Seeing Foles as inaccurate as he was against Dallas was the shocker. I expect him to come out slinging against Oakland, being very decisive and throwing the football with confidence.
That's the first step he takes toward taking control of the quarterback position. Foles is in prime position to do so. This is a pivotal moment in his career. Maybe it doesn't define his future, but it helps clarify what kind of ceiling he has.
JAMES CASEY WILL BE A FACTOR
One of the great mysteries is
Casey has just a couple of catches, but that's going to change in the next eight games. This is not to suggest that Casey is going to become the No. 1 target in the passing game, but he runs too well and has such good hands that the Eagles will build some confidence in his game.
BY END OF SEASON, OFFENSIVE LINE WILL MAKE STRIDES
The performance up front has been up and down, but the offensive line has the makings of being terrific.
The Eagles are going to ride the offensive line down the stretch and have the offense in a good place in December.
YOUTH RULES ON DEFENSIVE LINE
This is already the case, as Cox, Thornton, Logan and Co. mature together up front along with Square and Geathers. This is already a promising group, and Cox and Thornton have played good football through half of the season. It's time for Logan to start to make his mark. The increased reps will help his game a ton.
THE PRO BOWL EAGLES WILL BE ...
Things have to go right, of course. The offense has to get back on track. The defense must continue to improve.
The playoffs? I'm not going to go there. The Eagles have been too up and down to predict. Let's just say the NFC East is there for the taking, and a three-game winning streak, for example, would do wonders for the team's chances.
More important is the goal of improving every week. If the Eagles do that, they'll be pleased with where they stand at the end of the season.