NFL’s hottest team has room for improvement

Quoting Winston Churchill, Chip Kelly cautioned everyone that

the Philadelphia Eagles’ latest victory was far from perfect.

There’s no denying this, however: The Eagles (8-5) are the NFL’s

hottest team.

A 34-20 comeback win over Detroit in blizzard-like conditions

Sunday was Philadelphia’s fifth straight win and put the Eagles in

sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Dallas (7-5) could

move into a tie for first with a win at Chicago (6-6) on Monday

night.

After winning three in a row at home, the Eagles travel to

Minnesota (3-9-1) next week. The friendly confines of a dome should

be a welcome sight for a team that’s 5-1, on the road, and just

played a game on a snow-covered field.

Before they start preparing for the Vikings, Kelly and his

coaching staff will try to fix problems they saw against

Detroit.

”I think shame on you if you don’t look back and analyze what

happened and what are the positives and what can you take with it,

but I also think you also have to take what did we do wrong and how

can we continue to execute,” Kelly said Monday. ”Sometimes when

you have a big win, some people think we made a couple mistakes but

don’t worry about it, we won the game. We’ve never been that

way.

”Winston Churchill said: `Problems in victory are more

agreeable than problems in defeat, but no less difficult.’ We

always adhere to that as coaches because I think the easiest thing

to do is let’s move on. Well, there’s a lot of things that went on

yesterday that we need to continue to correct, and that’s the first

thing we do in the Tuesday session with our guys.”

The wintry conditions slowed down Philadelphia’s high-flying

offense in the first half and the Eagles trailed 14-0 in the third

quarter before Nick Foles and Co. got going. Foles threw a

touchdown pass to cut it to 14-6 going into the fourth period, and

then LeSean McCoy and the offensive line dominated Detroit’s

run-stuffing defense.

McCoy had 148 of his franchise-best 217 yards rushing in the

fourth quarter, including TD runs of 57 and 40 yards. Chris Polk

had a 38-yard TD run and Foles scored on a sneak.

”I didn’t think we were going to score 34 points, but I thought

that we could at least establish some things,” Kelly said. ”Very

difficult for the D-linemen to get their feet in the ground a

little bit so we could create some movement up there, and I thought

our guys did a good job, especially on the double teams.”

Yet even McCoy made mistakes.

”He could have had a 70-yard run. He cut back to it and got

tackled by (Ndamukong) Suh,” Kelly said. ”If he had broken to his

left, he might have had another one. Those are things we’re

continuing to work on.”

Hardly anyone outside the organization could’ve expected the

Eagles to reel off five consecutive wins when they were 3-5 at the

midpoint of the season and had lost two straight division games at

home by a combined total of 32-10.

But Kelly stuck with his plan and got things turned around. The

rookie head coach has the Eagles in position to go worst to first

in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

”You get the feeling that it’s a real team,” linebacker Conor

Barwin said. ”Guys care about each other and believe in each

other. In the last couple of weeks it’s really starting to come

together, and guys can feel that.”

NOTES: Kelly said the Eagles made it through the difficult

conditions against the Lions with no injuries. Safety Earl Wolff is

expected to return to practice this week after missing three games

with a knee injury. The rookie took over for Patrick Chung as a

starter earlier in the year.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi