A new phase, a new season for the Philadelphia Eagles


Matthew is one!

Philly Sports Muse is proud to introduce Matthew & Me, an occasional column that will look at the Philadelphia Eagles team and fandom through the leans of parenthood and my son. Today, Matthew’s transition into toddlerhood gives inspiration to anticipating the 2014 Eagles team. 

One year ago at this time, I was mother to a one-month old baby. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, but elated with my baby boy. And, I freely admit, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Even in the haze of the most significant life event I’d ever experienced as a backdrop, I could not wait for Eagles football.
The unpredictability of the journey of motherhood was like the collective uncertainty Philadelphia fans experienced at the dawn of the 2013 regular season about the Chip Kelly era. Enlivened by the new, innovative methods he brought to everything from nutrition to practices, we wondered exactly how his system would translate to the professional ranks. There was no doubt that Kelly was a force in college football, but could he bring those same results to the NFL? And how quickly? We were dying to get the season underway to find out.
An impressive debut against the Redskins made way to slower starts with less successful results. But like a new parent, Kelly found his footing. It may not have been entirely comfortable, but growth never is. He pushed his limits as a coach and those of his players and saw that, even with the daunting goal of having a winning season in the NFL under a first year coach, they could do it. And they did it, winning seven of their last eight games, rolling into the postseason to boot.
Fast forward to September 2014. As we prepare for the Eagles season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars this afternoon there are, once again, nerves. It’s the excitement and anxiety that fills every preseason and pregame experience. What will this new season bring?
My son, Matthew, now 13 months old, has recently taken his first steps. Every series he puts together these days displays more and more confidence in his new skill. While a few weeks ago staying upright while putting one foot in front of the other was the end-goal, complexity is now added to the mix. An ability to sidestep obstacles has emerged. He can now stop, remain standing, and then continue in his forward trajectory, all without falling down. Turns–left, right, and about-face–have entered the mix.
So, too, it goes with the Eagles.The Eagles under Chip Kelly have transitioned from their infancy into a new phase. After the timidity and uncertainty that come with the first few steps comes surer footing with each subsequent maneuver. With practice, once unsteady feet coordinate to form a fast and steady gait that move quickly and assuredly towards their goal.
The fundamentals of Kelly’s system are under his players’ belts. The very basic defense of 2013 can transition into a D with added strength, efficiency and complexity in 2014. The prolific offense of 2013 will evolve with new weapons on the team. The sure footing that ended the 2013 campaign will grow even more steady and confident as the march through  the 2014 season begins.
Parenting, as with coaching, involves tireless, irregular hours. There is always a measure of trepidation that pushes you to continually strive to do more and be more. Last year was about survival; this year it’s about making football season entirely our own.
Questions surrounding the offense this offseason have amounted to issues of consistency. Can Nick Foles repeat the successes of last year? We didn’t know what to expect from the defense. The Birds’ performance in the third preseason game, leading the team to shutout the Steelers at the half and resulting in a 31-21 victory, showed what we needed to see from the D. That they could go against some of the best in the league and shut ‘em down. Those were the first, critical steps. Now comes the hard part–repeating that success each game against every opponent.
We, as proud Eagles fans, know they can do it.
As if we weren’t excited throughout the 2013 season about all the possibilities that a new era brought to the team, the success of the team made that optimism grow. And then Chip Kelly endeared us all by showing he knew exactly what this town, and Eagles football, is all about by uttering these words: “We’re from Philadelphia and we fight.” I don’t know about you, but I know have that emblazoned on a shirt that will go in the rotation of my Eagles game day gear.
With the remote control typically hidden from his toddler hands, my son has learned to simply walk up to the television, pressing the glowing button to turn it on at the source. It’s typically a practice we discourage. But this fall, so long as the channel is set to the Eagles broadcast, we’ll make it work.
Now it’s time for the real fun to begin.
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2 Responses to “A new phase, a new season for the Philadelphia Eagles”

  • Glad to hear the family is doing well and Phil-ed with excitement for the start of another Eagles campaign. There is so much hope and expectation surrounding the potential of this team to record double digit wins, secure a division title and go deep into the post-season. Let’s get this season started!

    • What a game, eh? It’s the end of the 3rd quarter, and thank goodness the Eagles are making it a game. That 1st half was horrifically horrid. Let’s see how this shakes out…

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