Everybody feels great. Bouncy. Excited. A 38-3 win to start a season does that to you, especially after you have worked so hard to put a team together and the first game is such a mystery to everybody. The Eagles won Game 1, emerged without a serious injury and now look ahead to the great challenge of playing the mighty Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
In the words of Andy Reid: We look forward to the challenge ...
You are an Eagles fan and you are in a great mood today. Awesome. You should feel that way. It sure feels a lot better to open a season on a positive note and to downplay the significance of the performance than to lose in the first week and downplay the impact of the outing, as the Eagles have done six times in the Reid era. One game does not a season make. Or, as Reid said after Sunday's win about the importance of winning the first game of the season: "It is the most overrated game that there is in the league."
Reid's point is that we shouldn't get too high after a win and we shouldn't get too low. Rather, hey, it's OK if you are sky high right now and think the Eagles are going to beat every team that lines up on the other sideline this season. Enjoy the moment. Drink up the optimism and get into the hype for Dallas Week.
For his players, though, Reid went overboard on Sunday -- and is going to do the same all week in his coach-to-team meetings -- to let all who listened that the NFL is about the here and now, and not about dwelling in the muck of the previous games, win or lose. The general rule of thumb in the NFL is that you enjoy a win for no more than 24 hours and that you file a loss away in the Past Tense folder and move on.
Dallas is next. The Eagles have to find a way to beat the Cowboys on their turf. Dallas warmed up for the NFC East game by trampling the Browns, 28-10, on the road. The Cowboys are a complete team, the defending NFC East champs and a great measuring stick for an Eagles team that is continuing to learn what it is all about.
If it sounds like I'm soft-pedaling the Eagles' chances, don't look at it that way. I have supreme confidence that this is a team to be reckoned with. I also understand that there are other quality teams in the NFL and that the Cowboys are one of them. If you want to enjoy a tremendous matchup in the league, this is at the top of the list for Week 2.
Certainly, there was everything to love about the win over St. Louis. Even in the aftermath of the next day, the win was nothing short of total. The Eagles did just about everything right in taking apart the Rams. Donovan McNabb looked great. The offensive line was very, very good. The receivers, all of them, made big plays all over the field. The defense shut down the Rams so completely that the secondary had very little work and only a few opportunities -- all by Asante Samuel -- to get some takeaways.
It was a taste, that's all. A taste of what the Eagles can be when they put it all together. They have now won four consecutive games in the regular season, so maybe those three W's at the end of 2007 meant something. Maybe they gave players like Stewart Bradley and Brodrick Bunkley and Chris Gocong and Jason Avant and Tony Hunt and a bunch of young players who have never been in the playoffs a taste of what it takes.
This team, in the big picture, needs to get its swagger back. Oh, I remember so fondly the days early in this decade when you just knew, no matter what, that the Eagles were going to line up and win that win. It didn't matter who the Eagles were playing. It didn't matter where the Eagles were playing. You just knew -- the fans, the players, the coaches, everybody -- that the Eagles would find a way to win.
Last year, looking at an 8-8 season, the Eagles found ways to lose.
And then they won three straight games to close the campaign and came out and dusted off the Rams in a game that seemed like a throwback to the grand days from 2000-2004 and, well, it's time for ANOTHER BIG GAME. And that has me extremely excited. The buzz is back, for sure. The Eagles may have opened your eyes a little bit with the way they went about their business on Sunday.
The mark of a contending team, however, is not to play that way for one week. The best teams play well every week and give themselves a chance to win every time out.
So that's where I am now. It's Monday. The NovaCare Complex is hopping. The phones are ringing off the hook. The fans are dreaming. It's that great, fantastic, glad-to-be-back time of the year. The Eagles have a chance to be a really good team this season. To get to where they want to go, they have to keep one foot in front of the other, egoes in check, and understand the challenge that is waiting in Big D.