It's amazing what a win over Dallas will do for your spirits. The Eagles went into the bye week at 3-4, reeling from a loss to Carolina that wasn't particularly close. Post-bye, post-victory over a hated rival, and they're 4-4, with the wind at their back, a rejuvenated team.
All it took was a few fourth down tries, a revived running game, and a kicker that finally made a clutch field goal longer than 50 yards. Suddenly it's "the biggest win of the Chip Kelly era" (which is really saying something about the Chip Kelly era, unfortunately).
Sam Bradford is fixed. He's "continuing to flip the script on his legion of detractors". Apparently, the main issue was footwork, with QB coach Ryan Day noticing a problem three weeks back. "The results have been evident," writes the Inquirer.
The funny thing about the win on Sunday night is that on paper, not a lot looks different from the losses earlier in the season. If you're going to give the Eagles credit for any improvement, it has to be in the run game, where they've reeled off four straight games with more than 150 rushing yards. Kelly also seems to be mixing up the play calling a bit better.
But Bradford suddenly proving he's the guy of the future? This team, suddenly a legit playoff contender? Seems like wishful thinking.
Take Bradford on Sunday. His stats were solid: 25 for 36, 69% completion rate, 295 yards, 8.2 yards per attempt, 1 TD, 0 INTs. But the funny thing about those numbers is how much they were influenced by one great overtime drive. In regulation, his stats weren't quite so good: 20 for 31, 65% completion rate, 239 yards, 7.7 yards per attempt, 0 TD, 0 INT. That's arguably worse than Matt Cassel, who completed a higher percentage of passes for more yards and 3 TDs (plus one bad INT).
The point is not that Bradford's game-winning drive has no value. But just remember that he was one Caleb Sturgis screw up or one heads-tails controversy from being the same just-good-enough-to-lose Bradford we've seen all season. If Jordan Hicks tears his pectoral muscle before grabbing that pick six, the Eagles don't make it to overtime and there is no "Sam Bradford has fixed it" narrative worth telling.
Nor, really, is there one for the Eagles, who had two weeks to prepare and narrowly avoided falling to a Cowboys team that lost 5 straight games coming in and had posted just 91 passing yards against Seattle a week earlier. This is a 4-4 team that has played a bunch of bad teams in a bad division. Luckily, they play more going forward: their next three opponents are a combined 7-17.
Maybe this group has finally turned a corner, and will cruise to 7-4 before heading to New England. I hope so. But don't be surprised if this turnaround is a mirage, and inconsistency dooms the Eagles to underperform down the stretch. That would simply be par for the course this season.