It is game time and that pent up frustration from Chip Kelly’s light-hitting practice should boil over tonight. The media, as always, is bragging about how good the New England Patriots look. What else is new? They had their hearts broken when they saw their golden team spiral down the drain against the Baltimore Ravens last season. That doesn’t stop the media from bragging about them this year. If I was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, I would use that as fuel for my aggression.
According to the consensus, the Eagles are in the minus column for their chance at victory. Despite the drama of the preseason for the Patriots, this is overwhelming numbers. Also, despite losing Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, and Tom Brady probably only playing a few snaps, the Eagles are still underdogs tonight. That is fine, as long as the Eagles hit them hard enough that it reverberates on the sidelines. This may not happen, though.
Brian Dawkins, legendary safety for the birds, now retired, told Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith that the Eagles were not practicing hard hits in their sessions. Kelly is trying to prevent injuries supposedly while allowing the guys to get a feel for the game. Dawkins argued that is not possible unless you practice at game speed. That will be tested tonight. My prediction is that Kelly is going to have to amp up practices and the Patriots will shrug off a soft defense not used to physical play.
If I was Kelly, I would feed the fury on the sidelines. I would remind the team that all week they have been marginalized among mainstream media. I would find those players that have the potential to lay lumber and motivate them. If there are any bone crunching hits, look for Mychal Kendricks, Fletcher Cox and Earl Wolff to perform them. Trent Cole will be an interesting test case to see if he fits in to his new role, and Bennie Logan might surprise some people.
As talented as they may be, tonight will prove that Kelly has to go tougher in practices. If not, the Eagles are going to get run over all season. And the new Kelly era, among fans, will grow as stale as Andy Reid’s last seasons with his club.