PHILADELPHIA -- Even good teams have bad games. For the Eagles, the issue now is how they bounce back from their most disappointing performance of the season Sunday in Minnesota.
“I told them the same message when we were 3-5,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “We didn’t play well enough to win, but we need to stick together. That’s what we did when were 3-5 and that’s what we’ll continue to do. We’re going to be able to finish this thing off the right way.”
There were no expectations of this team when it was losing five games in the first half of the season. Now there are. There was plenty of time to right the ship back in October. Now there isn’t.
More troubling, there were signs of disunity late in Sunday’s 48-30 loss. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson threw a temper tantrum on the sideline after Nick Foles’ third-quarter interception. A series of undisciplined penalties in the fourth quarter helped the Vikings run up the score and resulted in the benching of cornerback Cary Williams.
Kelly said he would “get to the bottom” of Jackson’s issue and “straighten out” whatever was going on in his secondary. He’d better use the same uptempo approach he applies to his offense. The Eagles host the Chicago Bears Sunday night, then travel to Dallas for a virtual playoff game on Dec. 29.
Bad losses can be teaching moments, and they can be opportunities for coaches and leaders to step up. Kelly’s quarterback, who was wildly inconsistent in Minnesota, vowed to do just that.
“We are going to stay together through this whole thing and we are going to make each other better,” Foles said. “You are frustrated, you are a competitor and you put it all on the field and sacrifice your body. At the end of the day, it is tough but we have a great fellowship of people that are going to keep fighting. We are going to stick together because that is what the Philadelphia Eagles are.
“I am not going to let this defeat us.”
Kelly likes to say that leadership is important, but so is “followership.” This loss will test whether the Eagles have enough of both.
“Everyone has to check their selves, how they played and how they prepared, because we have a big game Sunday night,” linebacker Connor Barwin said. “Playoffs start this week for us.”
Fortunately for the Eagles, the playoffs didn’t start Sunday.