By Beasley Reece
I understand the Eagles’ problems. They outwitted the league by stock piling salary cap millions to take advantage of a wild free agency frenzy.
But lost in the acquisitions is the fact that new players, new coaches, and new systems require teaching time. The lockout and abbreviated training camp sent the Birds into competition working off cliff notes and cheat sheets.
We can expect better play today simply because they should have a better sense of who does what well after four games together. For example, top pick Danny Watkins has learned enough to be in the line up this week for the first time. It took him a month of on the job training to figure out the blocking assignments.
It took time for the team to settle the linebacker quandary. Casey Matthews may be an impact player at some point but his journey along the learning curve retarded the team’s progress.
The new kicker was baptized last week, missing two potential game winners. Now he has experienced the worst and should go on a run of successful boots.
By contrast, the Buffalo Bills feed off fans as passionate as Eagles nation. Remember they don’t have a Kimmel Center or a world renown Museum district. They counter Steven Star with The Anchor Bar, home of Buffalo Chicken Wings. They beat New England this season and hope to break a playoffs drought dating back to 1999. The Bills are up from 28th in defense to 16th, up from 18 points per game to 33, and Harvard product Ryan Fitzpatrick’s QB rating is up from 70 to almost 100, making decisions with Ivy League quickness.
There are a few positives for the Eagles.
Michael Vick is still alive after taking more shots than a journeyman Boxer.
Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo sounds like he plans to allow his millionaire Cornerbacks to play more man for man. And Andy Reid has resurrected more teams from a bad start than a faith healing Preacher.
The pressure to beat the Bills and avoid a 1-4 start is enormous. How the Eagles respond to this road game will tell us whether they can catch the division leaders or if we should start waiting till next year.