In the course of building a program, the foundation must be put in place. That is where the Eagles are through seven games of the Chip Kelly Era. Business is conducted on a daily basis the way Kelly insists it is to be run, and so everyone is in the program working in the same direction.
There is a terrific amount of enthusiasm and optimism that runs rampant throughout the organization. At the same time, there is the realization that the Eagles have a lot of work to do to get to the top, and there are some hard decisions to be made in the future that will impact the football team for years to come.
In the meantime, the coaches and personnel department keep their focus on Sunday, and the Giants, and the chance to reach 4-4 at the season's midway point. The team has put Sunday's loss to Dallas in the rear-view mirror after studying the how's and why's intently and hoping to learn from the defeat and bounce back with confidence and success.
I'm not sure the fans have quite gotten over the loss just yet, and that's understandable. Hopes were high on Sunday, and a loss to the Dallas Cowboys resonates. You are not paid to process wins and losses quickly. You are a fan because it means something to you, and you hang on to it until you are ready to move forward.
The football team has another big game on Sunday, this one against a New York Giants team that won its first game of the season on Monday night and knows that it is still in the game in an NFC East that remains wide open. NFL players and coaches live in a seven-day life cycle and their focus is on the immediate present.
These are men who have been through enough seasons of football to know that there are going to be some clunkers along the way. Those games pass quickly, as do the great 60 minutes and the last-second victories.
As a whole, as the Eagles enter Game No. 8 of the season, the Eagles have taken some definite steps in the right direction. They also have some areas that must be improved for the team to compete at the highest level on a consistent basis.
Keep that in mind as we go through the season together and enjoy the highs and lament the lows. Evaluate the season once it is complete, as will the Eagles. Understand where this team is, though: Building the foundation, putting the blocks in place, starting the program off in the right direction.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- Michael Vick took the first-team practice reps on Tuesday, a light day at work for the Eagles on the field. That does not mean he is starting on Sunday, because there are still days to go between now and then. It's a day-by-day process for Vick, who says he is making nice progress and that he is "optimistic" about his chances on Sunday. In the meantime, Nick Foles is with the athletic training staff going through the NFL's mandated program before he returns to the practice field. Matt Barkley is preparing as if he will start against New York and G.J. Kinne, on the practice squad now, is catching up on the offense and willing to do anything asked of him.
- Cornerback Brandon Boykin did a nice job on Victor Cruz in the first meeting with the Giants, and the challenge remains the same for the Eagles: Cruz is the most productive slot receiver in the NFL. However, the Giants also have Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle, both of whom hurt the defense a few weeks ago. "Great receivers and we know how good they are," said cornerback Bradley Fletcher. "It's a challenge for us."
- In case you didn't notice, the Eagles had wide receiver B.J. Cunningham active on Sunday against Dallas. Cunningham played on special teams and could have a chance to work his way into the offensive picture, in some capacity, in the weeks to come. "He had a good week of practice," said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. "He was actually active and contributed on special teams. He's ready to make an impact. I can't tell you exactly whether he'll be active again this week, but if he's up, we'll try to use him a little bit."
- Some notes on the defense: In games 1-4, the Eagles allowed 34.5 points per game, and since then the number has been shaved to 19.3 points. Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 107.2 in those first four games, and have a rating of 69.1 since. The completion percentage has been shaved from 70.2 percent to 54.9 percent and the rushing yards have dropped from 121.8 yards to 73.7 yards. The defense had two interceptions in those opening four games and have since intercepted six games in games 5-7. The numbers say quite a bit about the way the defense has come together.