The expectations entering the 2013 season for the Philadelphia Eagles were simply to become a better football team. After finishing a year earlier in last place in the NFC East, with a 4-12 record, there wasn’t much place to go but up. A drastic change was necessary in the City of Brotherly Love after the football had become stagnant. The change came quickly and simply with Chip Kelly.
Kelly, in just one season, turned around a franchise that had been trying to find their way. The Eagles made the improbable move from worst to first in the division and broke numerous franchise records, both team related and individually in the process. The players bought in whole-heartedly to Kelly’s science-based football methods, his high-tempo, high-reward offense and his accountability. It began from the best of the best and made its way through a team that saw huge success because they played together.
It seemed as though the storybook had been written from the beginning, with the Eagles starting slow and then getting comfortable with the system and with a new quarterback behind center, caught fire. They finished the season on an 7-1 tear, eliminating anyone in their path. Everything seemed to be coming together at just the right time.
Add to that the playoff matchup they drew against a team that had a great playoff resume, but had never won a playoff game on the road. The Eagles were quickly gaining steam as the team no one wanted to face.
The hype, excitement and expectation all ended very quickly though when the New Orleans Saints, led by Drew Brees, came into Philadelphia and earned their first playoff road victory. It was a heart-breaking loss that saw the Eagles squander plenty of opportunity on the night. But in the end, the storybook ended a bit before anyone had expected after the feverish ending that Philadelphia had to the regular season.
The future looks bright in Philadelphia, but the hurt and disappointment of a playoff loss linger, even though the expectations entering the season didn’t really equate with what the Eagles accomplished in 2013.