By this point, after two preseason games, I wanted all the questions to be answered. I wanted the Eagles to be at a point where they were blowing teams away on the field, where they were dominating the line of scrimmage and showing off their weapons on both sides of the ball. But injuries and inconsistencies have not made that vision possible, and now I'm going to settle into what I normally am at this time in the summer: Impatient.
I want the season to start right now. I want to believe that the Eagles team I think this is really will be. I want to see what a full game plan and a full roster of players can do in a regular-season game. I want to see Eagles football, something we certainly didn't see Thursday night against the Colts.
That game left a poor taste in the mouth of head coach Andy Reid, who said the performance was "embarrassing" and "unacceptable" and that he was offering "no excuses" for the way the Eagles played. It was not the first time Reid had been so fired up after a preseason clunker, and it likely won't be the last. When it has happened in the past, the Eagles have responded well and I expect the same now.
At the same time, I know the Eagles we see now isn't the team we are going to see on September 13. Reid is a master at disguising his schemes as well as his intentions in the games that don't count in the standings. And then the Eagles are a totally different team when the regular season begins. They will be a different team this year, too. Literally, as well.
What we're looking at now is an extremely critical week of the preseason. It's time to start shaping the roster. The first cuts come in a week's time. A bunch of the injured players should be back on the field in the coming days for practice. The third preseason game, on Thursday against Jacksonville, is going to be about as telling as a preseason game can be.
While there are justifiable concerns about how the Eagles have played in their 0-2 preseason, the belief here is that this is going to be a very fine team, a Super Bowl-contending team, with a roster that is going to get better and better every week.
I have to be patient. The team that I think the Eagles will be hasn't surfaced yet. Not even close. And while having all of the injured players back is going to help, there has to be more than that. There has to be an urgency with this team, an understanding that right now is the time to begin the peaking process for the regular season.
That the Eagles are 0-2 means absolutely nothing. That they haven't executed in key areas -- defensively against the passing game, particularly to the tight ends, offensively in short yardage and in the red zone and on special teams in the coverage and return games (too many penalties) -- and the coaches are none too pleased about it.
At the same time, this is the preseason. Many of the special teams penalties, for example, have been committed by players who are going to have a tough time making this team. The X's and O's are very vanilla, and the Eagles are missing key players in every phase of the game. Think about it: The offense played without six starters against the Colts -- running back Brian Westbrook, linemen Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Stacy Andrews and Shawn Andrews, and tight end Brent Celek -- and then lost fullback Leonard Weaver with a knee injury (a sprained MCL said head coach Andy Reid after the game, not believed to be serious) and the group on the field never got into a groove.
Are you surprised about that?
Didn't think so.
But you are a tad worried, because it is that time of the year. What you see isn't necessarily what you are going to get when the games count. The preseason is for evaluating the roster and making sure that the coaches have the best 53 players possible to work with this year. Nothing more really matters. The coaching staff loves the opportunity to see players as much as possible in these games.
The stage is set for a big week, and make no mistake about it. The Eagles need some of their injured bodies back on the field. It's going to be a telling few days, then, starting when the Eagles gather at the NovaCare Complex on Saturday morning. There will be, in its own way, a sense of coming together as the regular season looms just around the corner and the roster takes shape.