A common trend among Eagles coaches and players this week has been not to judge the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by their record, as it is a team that could be 3-1 instead of 4-0. They fight their opponents tooth and nail and ensure that nothing comes easily, especially on defense, which is a theme that will not change this Sunday.
"That's easy, put the tape on," head coach Chip Kelly said in response to not overlooking the Buccaneers' record. "That team plays extremely hard. Defensively, they fly around … They haven't given up many points, and when you look at it, the Saints are undefeated and they (beat the Buccaneers) with a field goal right at the end of the game. Every team (the Buccaneers) have played has a winning record. It was a last-second field goal in the Cardinals game. It was a last-second field goal in the Jets game. Just look at the tape and see how hard they play."
In the NFL, where the talent levels are so close and the margins of victory from week to week so thin, it is important to evaluate a team based on how it appears on tape, not how its record appears in the standings.
"(Their) defense is good, special teams is good," Kelly said. "You don't really get caught up, I think, when you're evaluating who you're playing by what's written and what's said, all that other stuff. You look at the tape, and when you look at the tape there are some really good football players over there."
In addition to the defense, there is a lot of talent that demands respect on the offensive side of the ball for the Buccaneers, as well.
"I think (Doug Martin) is outstanding," Kelly said. "They've got some really good receivers, and I think Mike Glennon's a good quarterback. We looked at him coming out last year. They have an outstanding offensive line."
On the injury front, Patrick Chung and Michael Vick remain the two storylines. Chung continues to get closer and closer to making a return to game action.
"He went through (the full practice) yesterday, we want to see how he rebounds," Kelly said. "He went through everything full yesterday, so how does he rebound today, are there any residual effects from it? So today's a big day for Pat."
The Eagles are now in day four of monitoring Vick's recovery from a hamstring injury. He has been out at practice with his teammates since Monday and is progressing each day from a participation standpoint.
"Mike got through all the individual drills and got a little work in seven-on-seven (Wednesday)," Kelly said. "So we'll see if he can expand on that today. We'll get a feel when he gets (to practice) and starts running around."
If Vick cannot play against the Buccaneers, Kelly, as he has reiterated time and time again, is comfortable and confident in Nick Foles operating the offense as the starting quarterback.
"I think Nick has the ability to be a starter in this league, and we're excited about him," Kelly said. "If the opportunity presents itself on Sunday, then I'm excited to see Nick out there. I thought he did a great job (against the Giants). I'm excited about Nick, and I think he can be a starter in this league. I said that when we made the decision that I felt you need to have two quarterbacks, and I feel like we do have two quarterbacks."
Lastly, Kelly spoke of safety Earl Wolff's development and the rest of the rookies who are playing key roles for the Eagles. There is nothing that can simulate live, in-game action and each week is a new learning experience on the job. Though growing pains are to be expected, they are inextricable parts of the process of becoming an effective, established NFL player.
"They're all byproducts of their experience," Kelly said. "The longer they get out there, the more times they get to see things, the more they (can recognize plays), and that's the different between a rookie and a second-year player and a third-year player. It's do you learn from those experiences? And that's one thing with Earl and all of our rookies – I think they've done a really good job of learning on the job."
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