Good teams, even ones that win Super Bowls, almost always look bad at some point during the course of the season.
New England, for example, did not appear headed for its fourth Super Bowl title last season when it slipped to 2-2 following a 41-14 Week 4 loss to Kansas City. Seattle, the year before, lost two out of three down the stretch and managed only 10 first downs in a home loss to Arizona. The year before that, Baltimore lost four of its final five and had an early-season loss to the "Dream Team" Eagles before winning it all. And then there were the New York Giants' last two Super Bowl runs when you couldn't be sure if coach Tom Coughlin would make it through the season without being fired.
The point here is that it is easy to overreact in the worst of times and if Sunday's 20-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys was not bottom for the Eagles than the Phillies' march to the worst record in baseball might seem less stomach turning by the end of the NFL season.
It is, however, impossible to categorize the Eagles as anything other than a bad football team right now because the two-game body of work has been indefensibly bad, not to mention offensively offensive.
At least for public consumption, Eagles coach Chip Kelly still believes he has a good team that has just played as poorly as it possibly could through six of the eight quarters to open the season. After watching film and identifying the multitude of reasons for his team's offensive breakdowns against the Cowboys, Kelly said during his day-after news conference Monday that this can all be repaired.
"Yeah, I feel like it can be fixed," he said. "We've had a couple games here since we've been here where we haven't run the ball well and we've rectified that. We didn't run the ball well against San Francisco [last season] and we rectified that."
Left unsaid by the coach was that he had a patchwork offensive line for that game against the 49ers during which the Eagles managed only 22 yards rushing on 12 carries. The five guys on the offensive line Sunday were the starters and the Eagles had 15 fewer yards on seven more attempts than they did last against the 49ers.
"The biggest thing is we didn't stop penetration all night long, especially in the running game," Kelly said.
The only question that matters is this: How can the Eagles fix the problem?
Personnel changes, at least for now, have been crossed off the list. Kelly said he had no plans to make any alterations on the offensive line. He did not absolve veteran guards Andrew Gardner and Allen Barbre for some of the problems, but the coach noted that center Jason Kelce and tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson had their share of issues, too.
"It wasn't all [Gardner, Kelce and Barbre]," Kelly said. "There were some times where it was the defensive end that was up the field, but no one on the offensive side of the ball graded out very well. A lot of it comes down to fundamentals. I think the blocking, throwing and catching aspect . . . we didn't catch the ball very well and at times we didn't throw it very well.
"It's a combination of all those things and unfortunately one of them would rear its ugly head on a particular play, so it wasn't one specific person or one specific scheme. But a lot of that just comes down to fundamentals."
Those words are different than the ones Andy Reid used when he was here. Big Red would say things like, "Everybody has a piece of the pie." Reid liked food references, but he was pretty good at keeping his team together in difficult times. The 2003 Eagles started 0-2 and were 2-3 before their season was saved by a Brian Westbrook punt return up in the Meadowlands.
Now, the Eagles are headed back to the Meadowlands for a Week 3 game Sunday against the New York Jets. They are a mess and their coach knows it. It is hard to believe that Kelly could be this wrong about his personnel. It is hard to believe, with the trio of DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, that the Eagles will struggle all season to run the football.
Of course, it's also hard to believe that the Eagles are 0-2 and look as lost as any team in the NFL.
"We're not putting together a plan that is good enough for us to execute offensively," Kelly said. "That kind of falls on the coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball and that's what we have to spend our time on this afternoon."
It is up to Kelly to figure out a way to make this work again. These are the parts his general manager gave him and if the coach cannot make them successful he has only himself to blame. Soon enough we will know if the Eagles are a good team in a bad funk or just an awful team.