By Kevin McGuire<
Coming off a loss in the season opener can be pretty rough, but Philadelphia Eagles fans should have a smooth and quick transition to the next game on the schedule. The Eagles host the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys this week at Lincoln Financial Field and they will hope to get off to a better start than they did Monday night at Atlanta. There is little time to waste this week, but the Eagles have been active in the front office and Chip Kelly and his staff are already making sure their team starts with a better effort on Sunday afternoon.
Was Chip Kelly out-coached in the season opener?
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly did himself no favors with some of the decision-making backfiring on him Monday night, but was he out-coached by Atlanta’s Dan Quinn? Eagles historian and analyst Ray Didinger thinks so. As noted in the team grades from Monday night’s loss to the Falcons, the up-tempo offense never got going in the first half and new featured running back DeMarco Murray had about as small an impact as any could have possibly imagined. There was some improvement in the second half as the Eagles chipped away and at one point took a lead on the Falcons, but a decision to kick a long field goal with Cody Parkey (who had a shaky preseason) when the offense was chugging along and needed one yard on fourth down may have been the biggest letdown from the head coach on the sideline.
But what about the Eagles effort in Atlanta?
You never want to hear anyone say the other team played harder than you after a game, but Chip Kelly made no bones about it. His team simply did not play hard enough in the first half of the season opener, a statement from the head coach that is as maddening and frustrating as it is puzzling. Players wait all offseason to get started with the real games that count, so why would the Eagles have been lacking in toughness and mental preparedness for the season opener on a Monday night? You can pit some of that on the coaching, or most of it, if you choose. The Eagles were as flat as could be on offense right out of the gates, and it led to the Falcons building a comfortable lead heading into halftime, thanks in part to a late turnover that led to a quick touchdown just before halftime. The good news is the Eagles should be ready to go from the start on Sunday as the Dallas Cowboys tend to bring the best out of the Eagles more often than not. The Cowboys may be the best cure for a season-opening hangover from a loss on a short week.
Eagles lock up Brandon Bair, add Julian Vandervelde to active roster
He may have been inactive on the Eagles roster in the season opener, but defensive lineman Brandon Bair still had a good week. The Eagles and Bair agreed to a one-year contract extension that will keep Bair in town through the 2016 season. And that was not all from the Eagles front office on Wednesday. The team added offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde to the 53-man active roster in hopes of improving the offensive line as quickly as possible. The offensive line showed some reasons for concern in the Monday night opener, especially in the first half. How Sam Bradford is still standing after one week is really quite remarkable considering the play of the line.
Avert your eyes, because Marcus Mariota put on a show
There were plenty of Eagles fans who probably tuned into the Tennessee Titans game this week to see what they might be missing out on with Marcus Mariota. The rookie had a fantastic debut in a game against Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mariota tossed four touchdowns in a blowout road victory in his debut, and now the former Chip Kelly Oregon quarterback is being labeled the fasted quarterback in the NFL by NFL.com. No, the Eagles cannot trade for Mariota now. That time has passed and it is time to move forward with Bradford, if you have not already.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.