PHILADELPHIA -- The great thing about history is that there is a large catalog to choose from when trying to cast your current circumstances in the desired light. Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz had to go back only to last season to illustrate why Sunday night's 37-10 pounding at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys is far from a death knell.
Coach Doug Pederson referenced his experience with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015, when he was offensive coordinator under coach Andy Reid. Kansas City started 1-5 before ripping off 10 straight wins to close the season.
Reading transcripts and listening to day-after news conferences, I found it interesting that Doug Pederson and Matt Nagy both referenced the 2015 Chiefs team that started 1-5 and won its final 10 games to make the playoffs. Both were on that staff.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) October 21, 2019
"That's the type of men we have here in this locker room. They're not going to let one game define the season or a couple games define their season. They're going to get better, learn from it," Pederson said. "That's what we did back then, and we're going to carry it over to this year."
This was the common refrain in the visitors locker room at AT&T Stadium early Monday morning: The players expressed embarrassment and frustration over getting their tails kicked by a division rival in front of a national audience and then insisted they would be better for it.
"I love that locker room," Carson Wentz said. "I have a lot of confidence in the guys, and I really think these losses -- obviously, you never want to lose -- but I think it's going to pull us together. I think it's really going to cause us to look in the mirror individually and take ownership of a lot of things, but I think it will pull us together, and as a family, the leaders need to step up and make sure we're in this thing together, and I'm confident we'll do that."
For every story of triumph in the annals, however, there's an example that runs in the opposite direction. Take that 2015 season Pederson referenced. While his Chiefs were shaking off a slow start, the Eagles, under Chip Kelly, were in the midst of a hard crash. The most tangible evidence of that came in Weeks 11 and 12, when they lost 45-17 to Tampa Bay and 45-14 in Detroit. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Philadelphia had not suffered back-to-back losses of 17-plus points since -- until blowout losses to the Minnesota Vikings and Cowboys the past two weeks.
Add the suggestion from tackle Lane Johnson that discipline is starting to slip in the form of players showing up late to meetings and practices and anonymous voices offering criticisms of teammates and tactics, and there are other parallels to be drawn between what's happening now and Kelly's final, disastrous season in Philadelphia.
It's a game of choose your own adventure. The truth is nobody knows which direction the remaining nine games will go in.
One factor that can sway the odds is the coach. A bulk of the players felt a disconnect with Kelly, and by Year 3, they were not wholly inspired to fight for him.
Pederson is different. Although they didn't exactly back up his pseudo-guarantee this past week, he has earned their devotion nonetheless, through not just the fact that he shepherded this team to a Super Bowl championship in February 2018 but also how he did it -- with common respect and player empowerment. They rallied for him when Wentz went down in December 2017 and again the following year when they were on the brink of elimination.
If the trend holds, we'll see Philadelphia get off the mat.
"We're only 3-4, and we're still a game out of first place in our division with a lot of football left," Pederson said. "Obviously, a sense of urgency has to pick up from the standpoint of each week becomes a little more important, but we've got the guys in the locker room, I've got the coaches on this staff to get it done, and that's what we're going to do."