Heading into Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Eagles were considered the favorite by just about every possible outlet. Riding a five-game winning streak against a 3-9-1 Vikings team, the Eagles had everything working in their favor.
Four quarters and 48 Vikings points later, the outside world was left scratching their collective heads, asking how the red-hot Eagles could lose to a three-win Minnesota team that was without its best player. Chip Kelly, on the other hand, knew that being a favorite meant nothing to how the game would unfold on the field in Minneapolis. His team had to play well, and, simply put, they didn't.
"You should go into every game with the same mindset, whether people on the outside consider you the favorite or they don't consider you the favorite," Kelly said on Monday. "If you're paying attention to that type of stuff, then you're not really focusing on what you can control. Again, the message I give and the message that I've always lived with is worry about what you can control … You don't control what other people's opinions are on a game going into it, and if you are (concerned with that), you're going to be a yoyo-up, yoyo-down guy depending on what people tell you going into the game.
"I think your preparation should be the same, I think your mindset should be the same, and sometimes that's easier said than done. That's not an easy thing to get accomplished, but I think that's ultimately the way that it should be done."
Fortunately for the Eagles head coach, he has seen his team rebound from tough losses on multiple occasions this season. After starting the season 1-3, the Eagles won their next two games, and then dropped the following two contests to find their record at 3-5. Just when it looked like a shot at the playoffs appeared out of reach, the Eagles rose up to the challenge and won their next five games. Now, that hope for the playoffs has become even more in focus, and Kelly is confident that his young group will get back on the right track.
"We were 3-5 at one point with this team and we reeled off five straight victories, but I'll get a better gauge tomorrow in terms of how this affects them, in terms of this loss," Kelly said. "This game is a tough game to play. You never really understand the outcomes, and sometimes it's tough to wrestle with it and try to justify 'How did this happen and how did that happen?'
"We're on a weekly schedule and we've got to get ready for the Bears now. We can't let a loss to the Vikings affect us for two weeks. There are some fixable things, and we have to watch the film with our guys and correct those mistakes and then get ready for a really good Bears team that is coming in here … I expect them to bounce back. I've seen them bounce back before. That's what I'm anticipating happening."
The early part of Sunday afternoon was a tough time for the Eagles fans, but things became a bit easier to swallow a few hours later, when the Dallas Cowboys let a 26-3 lead crumble into a 37-36 defeat to the Green Bay Packers. With that loss, there is a possibility that the Eagles can clinch the NFC East next weekend if the Cowboys lose to Washington. If that is the case, a win over Chicago would send the Eagles to the playoffs in the first season under their new head coach. Kelly admitted that he'll be aware of what happens in Dallas' 1 PM game, but his focus will remain squarely on beating the Bears.
"We'll know the score, said Kelly. "We all have phones and televisions and all of that other stuff, but am I going to be glued to the set? No. It is what it is. Whatever happens in that game, it still doesn't affect us (because) we still need to go out and play the Chicago Bears. I don't think we're going to have a victory party and say, "Oh heck, we have to get over to the stadium right now'. We've got to go play.
"I don't really care what goes on with Dallas to be honest with you. We lost to the Vikings, and that's not a very good feeling. Again, my philosophy is that I'm worried about what we can control and we don't control what other people do. What we can control is how we play, and we didn't play well enough yesterday."
Two weeks from now, on December 30, the Eagles will know whether or not they are playoff bound. Kelly's vision, though, does not extend that far.
"It's got to be a one-week season," Kelly said. "For five-straight weeks we did a pretty good job and Mondays were pretty good around here. Today, Monday isn't very good, and it shouldn't be good because we were disappointing and we didn't do what we were supposed to do yesterday. We can't make excuses. We'll come back tomorrow, watch the tape, make corrections, and we'll come back tomorrow and get ready for the Bears."
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