TAMPA — It was a year ago Monday that the Eagles went into Kansas City and fell behind by two touchdowns before eventually losing to the Chiefs, 27-20.
They didn’t play particularly smart or well against the Chiefs, but no matter how bad things got at Arrowhead, their effort never waned. It made you feel like better days were ahead.
Then they won nine straight games and then a Super Bowl.
You know where we’re going with this.
Another road game. Another Week 2 loss. Almost identical score.
I don’t like that the Eagles lost to Tampa Sunday (see observations), but I like the way they didn’t stop battling and didn’t stop fighting no matter how ugly things got on the scoreboard.
That became a hallmark of the 2017 Eagles.
Khaki Crossbody amp; Canvas Chloe Lex Upcycled Star Vintage We remember a team that went 13-2 in meaningful games and roared through the playoffs. But the reality is things didn’t always come easily for the Super Bowl Eagles. They trailed at some point in nine of their 13 regular-season wins and all three playoff wins.
That was a team that never stopped fighting, no matter the score, the time on the clock, the injuries. And if you keep playing hard, anything can happen. We saw it. We lived it.
And on Sunday, I really liked what I saw from that standpoint.
When you look up on the scoreboard and see 27-7 late in the third quarter it can be demoralizing. We’ve all seen teams that let that snowball. It’s easy to just think, “OK, it’s not our day,” and start thinking about next week, and that 27-7 can quickly become 44-7.
That’s what I look for when a team is getting blown out, and 27-7 late in the third quarter is getting blown out. How do they handle it?
Just like last year in Kansas City, the Eagles left Tampa understanding what just happened. They lost because they didn’t make enough plays on either side of the ball. But the effort was constant and that’s encouraging.
Here’s Malcolm Jenkins, eloquent as always:
Effort and resilience is never something we question with this team. Our fight is something that shows up in everything we do. We just have to do a better job of allowing that effort and resilience and fight to rise to the top without setting ourselves back.
Because we’re just not that good to overcome that many big plays, that many mistakes that are self-inflicting. The same lessons we had to learn last year as part of that season. Obviously, if we don’t correct our mistakes we’ll continue to lose, but if we continue to play like we’ve been playing, with the effort and resilience, we’ll be hard to beat.”
This team is talented. I don’t question that. Sure, they could use some help at wide receiver, but that’s coming with Alshon Jeffery. And Carson Wentz is really close, too. He'll make everybody better.
Defensively, the big plays have to stop, but this defense is too good to let that keep happening. Especially up front. That hasn't been their personality and it won't be.
Every team faces adversity. Last-place teams, Super Bowl teams. When I really start to worry is when they don’t respond when things are at their worst. When they let a bad loss become a worse loss. When they let things snowball. When they stop caring as much when they’re losing as when they’re winning.
I saw no sign of that Sunday night, and that’s really encouraging.
The Eagles ran into a hot, hungry, motivated team Sunday that jumped on them early and did enough to finish things off.
But I don’t worry about the Eagles. They’ll be fine. What we saw on the scoreboard was ugly. What we saw on the field gives me hope.