If we had the same expectation for the Eagles that we do for the Sixers, then maybe this wouldn’t have hurt so badly.
But we’re a football town (for now, anyway), and that’s not how things work here, so alas… here we are.
The Eagles went out swinging in their 21-16 loss at Lincoln Financial Field last night. In a game filled with mistakes, the Birds still had a chance to win with under a minute to go in the fourth quarter. A Michael Vick passing play to Riley Cooper on a go route ended with a Tramon Williams interception.
The most surprising fact about this whole situation last night was that the Eagles had a chance to win, despite looking awful for most of it. They had a chance! Think about that! I don’t know what that’s supposed to say about this team. I think more bad than good, but here’s what you’re left to ask yourself at the end of the day.
Was it the fact that the Packers were the better team? Maybe. Was it the missed field goals by David Akers? Possibly. Was it the terrible red zone defense that has plagued this team all year? Yes, it was. But more than anything, was it the hangover from consecutive losses at home against the Vikings and a throwaway against the Cowboys?
In my not-so-humble opinion? Definitely.
The Eagles and the Packers played badly enough to lose yesterday. Only one team did, but momentum had a lot to do with it. Confidence had a lot to do with it. You want to talk confident? The Packers have no running game and they decided to rush 23 times with a guy named James Starks, who you have never heard of before last night. They had a game plan and they stuck with it.
The Packers played meaningful games in the last two weeks of the season that were necessary to make it to the postseason. They played hard and they won. The Eagles? Well, they played what felt like an exhibition on a Tuesday night against a terrible Minnesota Vikings team and lost. Then, they sat their starters in the final week of the season and rolled over for the hated Dallas Cowboys.
The confidence in this city was shaky, and it was probably the same in that Eagles locker room. An injury-ridden team with no offensive line. The worst red zone defense in 25 years, a special teams group that has been shaky for a good chunk of this year, and there is nothing better to top it off than backing into the playoffs.
It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. I have always felt that a team that does that sits their starters a week or two before the postseason basically injects a drug into their players that starts makin ‘em feel all “preseasony”. Ya dig?
When you lose to Joe Webb in the national spotlight with only one week in the regular season remaining, your starters don’t deserve to rest. You want your team hype and primed for the postseason? Come out the very next week and smash the Cowboys and their interim coach. Beat the ‘Boys so badly that Jason Garrett has to look for work the very next week.
But they didn’t. They fell backwards with a blindfold into the No. 3 seed. The interim tag was removed from Jason Garrett’s job title, and now the Eagles are doing the same thing that the two teams that beat them are doing right now…
…sitting on their ass at home.
So what now?
With last night’s loss, fans are subject to another early exit in the playoffs, their second in the Wild Card round in as many years. With it, will come an off-season that will feature more questions than ever in the Andy Reid era. With plenty of time to reflect, the fans of this great city will be left to ponder the following:
- Will Michael Vick be an Eagle next year? If so, will the team franchise him or sign him to a long-term deal?
- Will Kevin Kolb be an Eagle next season?
- Can the team shore up the offensive line in time for next season? Will the Eagles select an offensive lineman early in the draft?
- Will Winston Justice attempt to break his record of two penalties in the same play next season?
- Can the team get enough help on the defensive line so Brandon Graham can play his natural position exclusively?
- Can we have a “Goodbye, Ernie Sims!” party?
- Will the team look to sign free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha?
- If so, will Philadelphians be able to spell his name by the end of his tenure here?
- Is David Akers, the longest-tenured Eagle in franchise history, going to return to the team? (Doesn’t look like it)
- Can the Eagles sign or develop a legit return man for their special teams that isn’t DeSean Jackson?
- For the love of all things holy, will Andy Reid fire Sean McDermott? See also: Worst Red Zone Defense in the NFL in 25 years
- Will there even be a 2011 NFL season?
That’s just a brief summary. I’m sure I didn’t include everything.
These questions facing this team and this league make it all the more upsetting… and confusing. The Birds, especially with Vick, have quite the open window for success in the coming years, at least on the offensive side. They are youthful and talented enough with all the time in the world to grow together.That’s one piece of encouraging news that comes from all of this.
There is talent on the defense, but this team can’t endure another season with this many injuries. Losing Brandon Graham, Stewart Bradley, and Ellis Hobbs equated to an absent key starter in every layer of the defense. They also need a better coordinator to lead them, because Sean McDermott isn’t the answer. Without the late Jim Johnson, the Birds have zero postseason wins. That is both a testament to Johnson and a shot at the current guy. Two years is enough for me, and probably for you.
Although it seems unlikely, I hope to see David Akers return. He has never missed two field goals in a playoff game, and I don’t know if there is any validity to what Quentin Mikell said yesterday regarding the kicker’s personal life. What I do know is that it’ll take five years or more to replace what the Eagles have in Akers.
For now, I’ll have the next six months (or a year and six months, depending on the CBA) to mull over everything, to talk myself in circles, just like you’re going to do. But there is that one thing that does make me feel a bit better about this dismal Sunday in Philadelphia sports…
…aces and catchers report in 34 days.