The apparent fact that most Philly fans of the male persuasion are silently brooding in cautious wait of the debut of the Chip Kelly era on Monday Night Football speaks volumes.
I have never seen such a laid-back fan reaction among males to a coaching regime change in Philadelphia. At least not on the eve of a brand-new NFL football season…
Guys are hedging their bets, unwilling just yet to get on board the Chippah Train.
My evidence is purely anecdotal, and not based upon scientific research. But I have noticed how quiet the Eagles fansites have been this weekend. Even the callers to Philly radio sports-talk shows are advocating "patience" upon the advent of the MNF game, basically implying that we should not be too eager for a big win on the road in D.C.
Maybe it's a sign of maturity and intelligent patience from a male fan base that is willing to give Chip Kelly the time he needs to adjust to the NFC East and a whole new way of stocking a competitive team.
But usually this time of year my male friends are extremely optimistic and would be calling for a 14-point blowout over the 'Skins. This season not so much…
Another anecdotal example: of all the SiTD ("Shot in the Dark") predictions submitted by the Bored not only here but at PE.com, I have counted 60% predicting an Eagles loss.
That is an impressive display of hedged enthusiasm. Under the Andy Reid teams prior to 2012, the SiTD predictions would almost always be overwhelming in the "Win" column by a 9-1 margin.
What do we think is going through Chip Kelly's head tonight?
He says he is going to use a "balanced attack" on offense. To me, that signals that he is expecting a very close game. He knows he is not going to be up 42-13 at the half like he was in so many games at Oregon.
“They keep looking at the numbers we had at Oregon,’’ Kelly said of his traditional pass-run ratio. “You look at it. We were so much ahead at halftime, 80 percent of our games, we didn’t have to throw the ball, nor did we throw the ball. That was a coach’s decision."
“Some of those numbers are skewed. We were a lot more balanced in the first half of football games than I think people think. We may have called a couple halfback option routes in the first half, and the second half we didn’t throw the ball at all. That was me as a play-caller. "
He also knows he has a rookie starter at right tackle.
First-round draft pick Lane Johnson will make his debut at right tackle on Monday night. The rookie from Oklahoma has looked good in camp and the preseason, but now it starts for real.
“I’m sure they’re going to test me,’’ Johnson said. “I have to be ready.’’
Kelly thinks his first-ever draft pick will be as well. “So far in terms of what Lane has done, we’ve been really, really happy with him,’’ Kelly said. “I think the one thing that impresses us the most about Lane is you may beat him on a move, but you rarely beat him on the same move twice. He does a great job of making in-game adjustments.’’
But the coach knows the Redskins will go after the rookie on Monday. “If you had your choice, who are you going to try to go against from a tackle perspective?’’ Kelly said. “Right now you’ve got an All-Pro (Jason Peters) at left tackle and a very talented, but still a rookie at right tackle.’’
Kelly's own tempered enthusiasm seems to have rubbed off on many of the Eagles' male fans — and bettors. The Vegas line is steadily favoring the Redskins by the hour…
But enter the New Dimension of the Female Eagles Fan…
Again this is purely anecdotal observation, but I have observed a growing movement of women of all ages who are really into the Eagles… and most of them are really optimistic about not only the upcoming game at FedEx Field, but about the Chippah's ability to beat the odds with a winning season.
I've also noticed that the biggest sales number in Eagles gear and apparel so far this year is owned by female fans.
This should not surprise me. When you go back in football history, behind nearly every player and coach there has been the strength of a good woman.
Perhaps Tommy Lawlor best summed up the aura of "reluctant enthusiasm" for the Eagles' opener against the Redskins in his most recent "Fan-Demonium" column at PE.com:
"I don't have a good feel for what to expect since there have been so many changes. This is a game the Eagles can win in impressive fashion if they play well. It could also be a long night if there are defensive breakdowns and turnovers on offense. The last two Eagles coaches lost their debut. Ray Rhodes lost an ugly game to Tampa Bay. Andy Reid lost a heartbreaker to the Cardinals. Kelly is new to the NFL, but is a veteran head coach. He could have the team brilliantly prepared and ready to kick some butt."