PHILADELPHIA — Buddy Ryan got an idea Sunday how it's going to be coaching football in the city of you-know-what.
After carrying the Super Bowl Bears into overtime at Chicago a week earlier, the Eagles' new field boss returned for the home opener against the Denver Broncos and was greeted by several banners draped around Veterans Stadium.
One read: "Hey, Buddy, the real defensive genius is on the other side of the field."
Another: "Hey, Buddy, do you call your wife by her number, too?"
And that was before the Eagles (0-3) fell before the unbeaten Broncos, 33-7.
Do you suppose the honeymoon is over? Is another estrangement between the Philadelphia fans and their beloved Eagles imminent? Most of the 63,839 spectators walked out in disgust before it was over. The others stayed only to boo the Birds off the field. Ryan's call-in radio show should be a delight tonight.
This is the hostile domestic atmosphere into which the Rams will venture next Sunday.
Eagle quarterback Ron Jaworski said: "Maybe before things can start going up you've gotta hit rock bottom. I think we've hit rock bottom."
They certainly seemed headed that way at the outset when Denver scored twice for a 5-0 lead before the Eagles even got the ball. The Broncos' Mike Harden knocked the ball out of rookie Junior Tautalatasi's hands on the opening kickoff and it rolled back out of the end zone for a safety.
After the Eagles' free kick, the Broncos moved to a 29-yard field goal by Rich Karlis.
Before the half had ended, Denver tacked on three touchdowns for a 26-0 lead. Harden got into the act again when he picked off backup quarterback Randall Cunningham's pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown. Then John Elway hit 260-pound Dave Studdard on a two-yard tackle-eligible touchdown pass, and Sammy Winder scored Broncos' third touchdown with a four-yard run.
On the first play after the second-half kickoff, Gerald Willhite broke loose for 42 yards, and, five plays later, Winder ran 17 through the heart of the Eagle defense to make it 33-0.
At that point, Denver Coach Dan Reeves gave Elway the rest of the day off. He hadn't been much of a factor, anyway. He didn't have to be.
The Eagles' rushing defense--ranked last in the National Football League before the game--allowed the 26th-ranked Bronco ground game 5.6 yards per crack and made Winder, with 104 yards, and Willhite, with 91, look like the second coming of Blanchard and Davis.
Ryan, noting his next opponent, said of the Rams: "They come in here with a great running attack, and we didn't even come close to stopping the run."
The brightest spot for the Eagles was the return of wide receiver Kenny Jackson from the doghouse to the starting lineup. He responded with 5 catches for 127 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass from Cunningham.
Otherwise, the Eagles tried everything to reach the end zone: replacing Jaworski with the agile Cunningham on third-and-long plays, a double reverse, even a fake punt from the Broncos' 38-yard line when they were still in the game at 12-0.
Instead of punting, John Teltschik, a quarterback in high school, reared back and fired a towering Alley Oop pass, hoping either for a lucky catch or a pass-interference call.
The Eagles got the latter and a first down at the 33, but four plays later the Broncos stopped rookie Keith Byars short of a first down at the 24 to kill the threat.
The fake-punt play, incidentally, is called "Throw Up."
Truly a title that could have been inspired by Sunday's performance, when the Eagles seemed bent on self-destruction.
Said Ryan: "It seems like when things go wrong early in the game that we are too immature to come back and not let it affect us the whole game. I think it's a learning process, but I don't want to sound like an alibier. We were horse manure from the opening kickoff."
Eagle safety Wes Hopkins, playing on an injured left knee, left after straining it again late in the third quarter and is uncertain for the Rams game. . . . Bronco linebacker Karl Mecklenburg departed with a concussion in the third quarter. . . . Eagle quarterback Ron Jaworski, with 191 yards passing (14 for 32), passed Bobby Layne as the 19th NFL career yardage leader with 26,860. . . . Denver quarterback John Elway completed 7 of 12 for 96 yards and backup Gary Kubiak was 7 of 11 for 69 with one interception.