Eagles need to assert home-field edge


PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles went 4-4 at home last season, 4-5 if you count the playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

"We left a bad taste in our mouths last year, losing at home," cornerback Cary Williams said earlier this month. "We lost a lot of games at home. Those are things that we want to right this season."

It turns out 2013 wasn't some kind of anomaly. The Eagles' September loss to the Dallas Cowboys was their ninth consecutive at Lincoln Financial Field. Over the past 10 years, the Eagles' record at home was 44-36. Their road record was 45-34-1.

As the blog Bleeding Green Nation points out, that makes the Eagles the only team in the four major North American sports leagues with a better road record. And that's what Williams was talking about trying to correct.

Nine of the last 10 years, of course, Andy Reid was the Eagles' coach. Chip Kelly is only on the hook for one season with a better road record than home record. To Kelly's credit, the Eagles won their last four home games of the regular season in 2013. They started the year 0-4 at home, as the quarterback knot featuring Michael Vick and Nick Foles untangled itself.

That home loss to Dallas, the ninth straight at home, was the game in which Foles played poorly in the first half and was knocked out with a concussion. The next week, Vick was injured during a loss to the New York Giants. Both of those games were finished by Matt Barkley.

Foles returned to action Nov. 3 in Oakland and threw an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes in a win over the Raiders. The Eagles went 7-1 in the second half of the season -- and undefeated at home.

Until the playoffs, of course. Despite home-field advantage, they lost to the Saints, 26-24.

Would the Eagles have been better off on the road for that game? It's hard to make that case. Their struggles at home are mystifying, but the Saints were simply a better team in that game.

Can the Eagles restore their home-field advantage in Kelly's second season? They will benefit from the addition of 1,600 seats, which should mean 1,600 more vocal cords, as part of renovations to the Linc. Mostly, they will benefit from being a better team in the second year of Kelly's tenure. And that's what Williams was talking about.

"I think we're going to be much improved from last season," he said. "We understand what's expected of us. We just want to continue to build off what we did last year and be better. I think we're on the right path."