Monday night the Eagles took Lincoln Financial Field, and in the first four minutes of the game they raced ahead to a 10-0 lead over the Panthers. It was an explosive start from an opportunistic team, capitalizing on two forced turnovers with a field goal and a touchdown.
Chip Kelly's team was more than ready for Carolina, and after the game the head coach said he saw the performance coming all week long.
"I wouldn't say surprised," Kelly said, when asked whether he expected his team's quick start. "Obviously I thought our defense, they really came to play. I thought they had a great week of preparation."
In fact, Kelly was thrilled with the way his entire team prepared this past week. Kelly is known for his rigorous, up-tempo training sessions, filled with loud music and near-constant motion. This past week, his players looked good from Tuesday to Saturday, and the results were evident in Monday's 45-21 thrashing of the Panthers.
"I thought we had – and I just told those guys when we got done – I thought we had a great week of training," Kelly explained. "And when you have a great week of training, it gives you an opportunity to go out there and play. It's a group that really works, and I think you're seeing that when we get a chance to get out on the field."
Kelly loved what he saw from his pass rush, especially linebacker Connor Barwin, who added to what has been an impressively prolific season with 3.5 sacks of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. The defense ended up with an astounding nine sacks on the night.
Kelly was impressed with the way Barwin looked in training, and loved the way his defense approached the challenge of defending a dynamic player like Newton during film and training sessions during the week.
"We were excited about the challenge of going against Cam, and we created a lot of pressure early," Kelly said. "To start the game with those two turnovers in the first few plays I thought obviously set the tone."
Kelly said he saw his defense recognize that Newton would pose a threat, and felt they did a great job of getting him off his spot and then getting home with sacks. There was a singular focus on Newton, and it resulted in the essential shutting down of a dynamic weapon. Newton finished the game with a quarterback rating of just 71.5.
When you take that kind of focused mindset from training into a game, Kelly explained, great things happen.
"They just think, 'Can I make this a great Tuesday?'" Kelly said. "They just think about that, not going any farther, understanding what's going to be done that day.
"I think this group really enjoys it. They embrace the process, they enjoy coming into work, and it's a great group. And I think they understand that they get out of it exactly what they put into it. The more you put in during the week, the more success you're going to have on Sundays, or Mondays, whenever they ask us to play."
If Monday night was any indication of what the Eagles look like following a great week of training, the team will be putting its best foot forward this week. The loud, lively training sessions are paying dividends on game day.
The Eagles hosted the Carolina Panthers in a Monday Night Football matchup ...