Ladies and Gentlemen;
It was not pretty to watch.
It was not fun.
You could see the pained looks on the face of Coach Nick Sirianni and the Eagles starters as Dallas put up 51 points on an Eagles defense with some players that you would not have known even if you checked the Eagles depth chart just last week.
As Eagles fans it just burns you up to watch the Cowboys run up the score and Jerry Jones celebrate in his owners box like the Cowboys just won the Super Bowl. He’s got to be on TV more than any other owner in the NFL. It must be something he negotiated with the networks.
It started out fun. Watching Gardner “Balls” Minshew and an offensive line made up of third and fourth stringers cut through the Cowboys defense like hot knife through butter was great. Yes, the Cowboys were missing their two best defensive players but The Stache was making a statement.
We knew it wouldn’t last since Mike McCarthy kept his starters in for three full quarters. The Eagles were keeping it close and trailed by a mere six points with less than a minute left in the first half. A shank by punter Arryn Siposs gave the Cowboys a gift touchdown right before halftime. That pretty much did it.
I know a lot of people were upset. I know that the sting of losing, particularly to Dallas, sucks.
I know that there are many who believed that this killed their momentum.
But Coach Nick Sirianni did the right thing for his team. As I said last week, the Football Gods handed the Eagles something very unexpected when they learned that winning or losing this game had very little bearing on their seeding or even who their likely opponent would be. Remember, teams fight and play as hard as they can to be the only team in their conference to get a bye week in the playoffs so they can rest their players.
But what about all of their momentum? What about the four game winning streak that they carried into the Dallas game?
It’s not something tangible. It’s not something that you can plan for. It’s not something that you can coach.
But anyone who has ever played any sport at any time understands the power of momentum.
Momentum is a big deal and I don’t dismiss the notion particularly when I hear Seth Joyner talk about it. However, this is a 17 game and 18 week slog just to get to the playoffs. The Eagles knew that they would be playing on the road. If they are fortunate enough to win this Sunday then they will be playing on the road again.
Maybe it’s a little more important for them to be rested? Maybe it’s better if their bruised and fatigued bodies got a chance to recover?
Here’s another question: How bad would it have been if the Eagles played their starters and lost? What do you think that would have done to their momentum and their confidence? Or, what if one of their key starters did get hurt?
We spoke at length last week about the benefit of resting and how muscles recover. We spoke about physiology.
What about staying consistent to what got you to this point in the first place?
In a recent press conference they asked Sirianni what he was going to do differently in preparation for the Tampa Bay game.
So that has been our process the entire year. We’re going to stay the same way. I know it sounds cliché, but if you start doing anything different now in the playoffs than you’ve done the entire 17 weeks prior or 18 weeks prior, you’ve done the 17 or 18 weeks wrong.
Nick Sirianni has not deviated from his routine regarding player recovery. All Year Sirianni rested his players according to their needs. 30+ year old players got an extra day off.
You can’t argue with the results. After five injury plagued seasons Sirianni managed to avoid the all to familiar situation that we had endured regarding the Eagles and injuries. Of the 22 starters from opening day only 3 will not be suiting up for this playoff game due to injury.
Plus, at this point in the season, I have no doubt that Sirianni knows his team and knows what is best for his players. I have no doubt that his decision to rest his starters was not made by him alone. I’m sure that he spoke with Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, Rodney McCleod, Jalen Hurts and the other leaders of this team. That is also something that he has done all season.
And he is, without question, a players coach. He had Kelce take a snap to continue his streak of consecutive starts and called a few quick plays to Devonta Smith to allow him to break DeSean Jackson’s rookie receiving record.
Then there is this story that says a lot about Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles as an organization:
Yes, It sucked watching them lose. But how long did you think about it? How long do you think the Eagles actually thought about it? Once the 49ers came back to beat the Rams and the seeding was determined, you, me, them, everyone started thinking about Tampa Bay.
And we haven’t thought about much else since then.
The Eagles are an 8.5 underdog against the Tampa Bay Tom Brady(s) this Sunday in Florida. Yes, there are 21 other starters on this team and 52 other players who will suit up but all anyone covering this game wants to talk about is Touchdown Tommy. I am already dreading the ass kissing, sucking up, sweet talking, boot licking, brown nosing that the commentators are going to lavish on the COAT.
I know that I make a lot of typos every week, that I somehow/ miss after threeeee or foUr proof readingsg of these essays, but “COAT” is not a typo.
Can anyone guess why I replaced a “G” with a “C?”
Have I not been that transparent over the years?
(C)heater (O)f (A)ll (T)ime
Okay, back to the pregame analysis.
Even with two of his top targets out for this game Brady will still dominate the Eagles secondary. Without Leonard Fournette, the defending Super Bowl Champs will rely on their passing game even more.
I believe that Jalen Hurts will be fine, Sirianni will call a good game and the Eagles will be able to move the ball with their running game and score some points. It’s their defense that worries me.
I am afraid that Jonathan Gannon will drop his safeties back, not blitz, fail to disguise his defensive sets and essentially do all of the things that he still clings to before he wisely and impressively makes his in-game adjustments.
Plus, if the Eagles get out to a typical slow start then this game will be over quickly.
Regarding Jonathan Gannon is there something that we missed this year regarding his performance as the Eagles defensive coordinator?
There must be something that NFL professionals see that the rest of us don’t because reading that two teams wanted to interview him for a head coaching position just blew my mind.
So, yes, I’m concerned about the Eagles defense playing too passive and allowing Brady to scalpel out a 300 yard game without ever throwing a pass over 15 yards.
And, although I’m thrilled that Miles Sanders is going to play I’m concerned about his broken hand and his propensity to fumble. Surely it is harder to hold onto a football when you are recovering from a hand injury. I hope that they are coaching him up and making sure that he covers up and takes care of the football.
I don’t think that the Eagles will be intimidated and I know that SIrianni will have them playing hard until the final minute so I am comfortable betting the Eagles with 8.5 points.
Covering is one thing. Winning is another.
Do I think the Eagles will win?
Do I think that they can win?
You bet your sweet ass I do!
When you look at what this team did this season and the culture that has been created then you would be a fool to ever underestimate this group of men. When you see the growth and the ability to learn, improve and come together then you’re just not paying attention if you say that they have no chance.
In the words of their unshakeable leader and future Hall of Famer Jason Kelce,
When we play our game, no one can f—ing beat us!
If that does not get you psyched up for this game then call an ambulance because you don’t have a pulse!
So get ready.
Because if Jalen Hurts can make a few good throws and create enough hesitation by the Buccaneers linebackers, if Jordan Mailaita and Landon Dickerson can use their combined 700 lbs to blow up the Tampa Bay second level, if Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Joshua Sweat and Derek Barnett can lay a few choice (and legal) hits on Brady, if Darius Slay can come up with an interception, if this team believes and truly understands that their moment is not next year after they pad their roster with three first round draft picks but now, right now, then it could happen
Their is no doubt that they believe it
And for us watching, even if your head tells you differently don’t block out what your heart is screaming at you.
They could win this game. They really could win this game.
We’re Eagles fans.
We show up.
And this is the sh-t that we live for.