With eight of 16 NFL regular season games in the book, it is time to dole out the grades for the Eagles' first half performance. They come into this Sunday's home game against the 3-5 Miami Dolphins as seven-point favorites and the NFL score predictor on Odds Shark has them winning this matchup 27.9 to 18.1. That would be a great result, but I cannot let this influence my grading for their first eight games.
Overall Grade: C-
Philly was close to pulling a D or possibly even an F after a dismal 1-3 start that included blown leads against both Atlanta and Washington along with a downright ugly showing against Dallas in Week 2. They were able to pull their season out of the fire with three victories in their last four games, but the lone loss to 8-0 Carolina showed just how far the Birds still are from being on of top teams in the NFC.
I may be grading this unit a bit tough, but we are nine weeks into the season and this offense still has trouble playing as a cohesive unit. With Sam Bradford at quarterback it has been hit or miss in almost every game. The offense has gotten off to notoriously slow starts and you never know what you are going to get from one series to the next. Bradford's play in the second half of last Sunday's Dallas game might have been a turning point for the rest of the season so that is why I gave the offense a plus on my D grade.
This side of the ball as been a pleasant surprise this season after being the main root of the Eagles' collapse last year down the stretch. When it comes to the rankings in the NFL, some of the numbers do not support such a high grade. The defense is ranked 21st in the league against both the pass and the run when it comes to total yards allowed, but in the one category that matters most (points allowed) it is ranked 10th; giving-up an average of 20.5 points a game. Another reason why I graded this unit so high is its 20 takeways, which is ranked first in the NFL along with the New York Giants.
I am still a big fan of Chip Kelly and I honestly believe that he will be able to pull-up his grade with a better second half, but I had to be tough on him for his team's first half performance. Things are starting to fall into place, but sloppy and inconsistent play along with stupid penalties and costly turnovers (10 interceptions and five lost fumbles) are a tell-tale sign of a team that lacks the necessary discipline to truly be one of the top contenders for a Super Bowl run. Some people might want to give him the benefit of the doubt with so many new faces on this year's roster, but he is the one that made all those changes so that is on him.
This is not the kind of report card that I would want to bring home to my parents, so I am looking for some immediate improvement starting this Sunday when the Eagles bring themselves back home to the Linc. Following the game against the Dolphins, they will home against Tampa Bay and on the road against Detroit on Thanksgiving so the Birds should be able to bring a 7-4 record into Foxborough on Sunday, Dec. 6. Following that probable loss, Philly returns home for three-straight games against Buffalo, Arizona and Washington.
I have Kelly's Heroes winning two of three in that run to bring a 9-6 record into their season finale against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. This will no doubt be the final exam for the season and most likely a title game for the NFC East crown. I win would dramatically improve these grades, but a loss could send the Birds to summer school for the second straight year.