The anxiety in Philadelphia before the Eagles' home opener Sunday turned out to be at an inappropriate level. The concern wasn't grave enough. The Eagles looked even worse in a 20-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field than they did in Week 1.
Chip Kelly has now coached 35 regular-season and playoff games with the Eagles, but his vaunted offense never appeared as inept as it did in front of the home crowd Sunday. There have been times when they struggled to move the ball because of injuries at quarterback or on the offensive line, but this is a healthy unit that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations.
"It's more concerning now because it's now," Kelly said. "Just because we went through it before doesn't mean we'll get it straightened out."
They're now 0-2 with a running game that's broken, a quarterback who is inconsistent, injuries to key inside linebackers Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks, and two road games ahead of them.
In the locker room after the game, the words "embarrassed" and "disappointed" were used without hesitation. Any optimism came from the fact that it's only Week 2 - not because of their performance.
"Maybe we got a little overconfident in the preseason and thought we could go out there and beat anybody," tackle Lane Johnson said. "Obviously, that's not the case."
Running back DeMarco Murray rushed for only 2 yards on 13 carries in his first game against his former team. The Eagles' leading rusher was quarterback Sam Bradford, who ran for 9 yards. He went 23 of 37 for 224 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions, and one fumble.
"I don't think the running backs had enough time to assess if there was a hole," Kelly said of a rushing offense that mustered only 7 yards.
The problem appeared to be the offensive line. Center Jason Kelce said it was "the worst rushing attack" he has been a part of in Philadelphia. He said it "doesn't get any worse than this on offense."
Murray, the defending rushing champion, now has 11 yards in two games and is averaging 0.5 yards per carry. He said last week he was "emotionless" about playing the Cowboys, but he appeared visibly frustrated on the field.
"I am frustrated with losing," Murray said.
The Cowboys lost quarterback Tony Romo to a fractured clavicle in the third quarter, but their defense dominated the Eagles even while missing four key players. Kelly's message to his players after the game was that they let a good defensive performance "go for naught" because of the offense's ineffectiveness.
The state of the Eagles appeared clear during a third-quarter sequence when they had a first down at the Cowboys' 3-yard line trailing by 13 points. Kelly did not trust a rushing offense that withered all afternoon.
"We weren't moving their defensive line, so we probably had to throw it in," Kelly said.
Bradford's first attempt was incomplete. His second pass went right into the hands of Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, who blanketed tight end Zach Ertz. A pristine scoring opportunity vanished, the Cowboys regained possession, and a Philadelphia crowd that had already practiced its booing had more of a reason to voice dissatisfaction.
And that wasn't even the ugliest part of the game.
The Eagles managed to cut the Cowboys' lead to 10 points after Cody Parkey hit a 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Byron Maxwell stripped Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar and Malcolm Jenkins returned the recovery to the Cowboys' 30-yard line.
This was the Eagles' chance to get back into the game. Except on the very first play of the possession, Kelce snapped the ball before Bradford was ready. Kelce thought he heard the snap count. Bradford said he hadn't even started his cadence. The ball hit Bradford in the chest and sputtered to the ground, where the Cowboys recovered the fumble.
The Eagles' last hope of cutting the score to a one-possession game resulted in Bradford's second interception. The fourth-quarter pass bounced off Ertz's hands.
The Cowboys scored on a 42-yard pass from Brandon Weeden to Terrance Williams on the ensuing possession - their only offensive touchdown of the game - but that affected the score more than the game's outcome.
The Eagles seemed plagued from the start. They totaled only 21 first-half yards. The running backs had minus-3 rushing yards at the break. The offense recorded one first down and held the ball for just 6 minutes, 51 seconds.
Yet the Eagles trailed by only six points, and the beginning of the second half could have offered a chance for momentum. Instead, they were forced to punt after four plays. They could not even do that well. The Cowboys penetrated the Eagles line and blocked Donnie Jones' attempt and returned it for a touchdown.
Kelly, who blamed execution and coaching for the performance, pledged to take a discerning look at the team this week. He said he will "assess everything," and added, "It's not going to get any easier for us." The Eagles visit the New York Jets on Sunday, and the frightening part for their fans is that the team already proved it could get worse.
"It's going to come down to this week," Johnson said. "This week, I think, is going to define our season."