Ladies and Gentlemen:
I started this essay a few days after the Tampa Bay game. And then, well, there wasn’t a deadline so I just put it off. Then I said to myself, “I’ll finish it before the playoffs.” Next it was, “I’ll knock this out before they trade for Russell Wilson/DeShaun Watson.” After that it was “I’ll trudge through this thing before the Super Bowl.” Finally I said, “I have to cross this off my list. I’ll slap something together before the draft.” My brother Michael understands that last one.
That paragraph was really just cut and pasted from last year. I changed “Washington” to “Tampa Bay” and “Carson Wentz” to “Russell Wilson/DeShaun Watson.” But everything else is the same. I’m only telling you this because there will be a lot of cutting and pasting and links going forward. With that in mind, feel free to turn the car around right now. I won’t be offended.
When the Eagles season is over it’s over and I turn my attention to the other three major sports team that infect our collective Philadelphia Soul. Well, four if you count the Union. Actually, up until a few years ago you could count the “Philadelphia Soul” as another team infecting our collective Philadelphia Soul.
However, there was not a lot to cheer for. The Sixers were hot and cold, The Flyers have been playing in the AHL and the Phillies look like they will be a sub .500 team…again.
But then something happened. Something that epitomizes the roller coaster ride that is Philadelphia professional sports.
What started my blood boiling again? What got me out of my stupor?
The Sixers destroyed the Raptors in the first two games of their series and looked like they stuck a dagger in the heart of The Great White North in game three when Joel Embiid knocked down a turn-around 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime.
Everyone was talking about an NBA Championship. If Embiid can stay healthy then we can make a run! MVP! MVP! MVP!
The Sixers lost a close game in Toronto and completely sh-t the bed a couple of nights later in Philadelphia.
Everyone is talking about how the Sixers are going be the first NBA team to lose a series after going up 3-0. Torn ligaments in Embiid’s thumb. Doc Rivers…out! Jay Wright…in!
So, before we gnash our teeth as we watch James Harden flop around for foul shots and Howie pull off a great draft day trade only to waste the pick on a guy who is on no one else’s draft board, let’s officially put the 2021 season to rest.
We’ll rewind to January 17, 2022:
Well, the Eagles are out of the playoffs.
They were out-played, out-coached, out-schemed, out-hustled and out-muscled.
And I’m going out of my mind.
What the hell was THAT?
Was Sirianni not paying attention to the last 10 weeks? Why in the world did he go back to those bubble screens and RPO’s that forced Jalen Hurts to make decisions that were easily countered? It did not work before the Eagles started their run and it did not work on Sunday.
Everybody knew that Tampa Bay was going to stack the box and take the run away from the Eagles. Washington had done it two weeks ago and Dallas did it last week. Any NFL defense is going to try and eliminate the thing that you do best.
And that was the game plan Sirianni had dialed up?
With eight defensive players crowding the offensive line it left the Eagles receivers in man-to-man coverage. Why not put the ball in the hands of your best wide receiver? A few five yard outs may have loosened up the Tampa Bay defense. He gave Jalen Hurts nothing to work with.
And Jalen truly did look lost out there. The Buccaneers read him like a book. Todd Bowles, Tampa’s defensive coordinator, bottled up the Eagles offensively last time. Sirianni and Shane Steichen did nothing different on offense this time.
Troy Aikman’s analysis on Jalen Hurts is always spot on. He was very critical of the Eagles not taking advantage of the one-on-one match ups.
Cut and pasted from my text trains:
My biggest unsaid and unwritten fear was that this game would go so badly for the Eagles that it would reinvigorate the notion that the Eagles should trade their draft picks for Russell Wilson. Hurts played terribly and Sirianni inexplicably went back to the type of play calling that he was in love with in the beginning of the season. We knew the defense would give up points but when the Bucs stacked the box and took away the run the Birds had no answer even though their receivers were in single coverage. There are so many positions needed to fill. Hurts was awful today but this is not anything that we did not know about him. He deserves a second year and the Eagles need to draft defensive players. You’re not the smartest guy in the room, Howie. Listen to your scouts and don’t let this opportunity pass.
Reagor muffing a punt. Barnett getting flagged. Eagles linebackers getting worked in coverage.
Pretty much standard fare.
Although, I will say that I think it’s ridiculous when people say that this team was exposed for what it is.
And what did they think this team was?
A legitimate Super Bowl Contender?
The Eagles were a .500 team. We knew that’s what they were before they even kicked off. They beat the teams they should have beat and lost to the teams that they should have lost to.
They should have lost to the Tampa Bay Buccanears and they did. Even if they kept it close and made us feel better about the outcome anybody who knows anything about football would have been surprised if they beat the defending Super Bowl Champs.
This playoff game was a bonus. A gift from the NFL who in their pursuit of the almighty dollar saw fit to add another playoff team last season and a 17th game this season. Both of which greatly benefited the Philadelphia Eagles. Thank you NFL for scheduling the New York Jets for that extra game.
This season was about improving as a team, seeing if Hurts was the man and if Sirianni was the real deal.
There is at least one thing that Nick Sirianni got right.
Rest. Player Safety. Injury prevention.
Okay, that is three things technically but you get my point.
We have been preaching this for years here at the RT.
This is from “A Necessary Distraction (Part 4)” on September 12, 2021:
Speaking of staying healthy, one of the things that I will be watching closely is how many players end up on the injury list with soft tissue or non-contact injuries. This is a compelling story because for the last four years the Eagles have have been decimated by injuries, including the year they won the Super Bowl. Over the last three years, the Birds have finished 32nd, 21st and 30th in adjusted games lost, and only two other teams over that span (the 49ers and Jets) have lost more games to injury.
In four years the Eagles have had three different Chief Medical Officers. But there has been one constant over those four years. Coach Doug Pederson. I am curious to see if there will be fewer non-traumatic injuries And, if so, one could argue that it was his style of running his team (practices, recovery) that may have been responsible for some of those injuries. Chip Kelly did an excellent job keeping his players healthy and Nick Sirianni has similar philosophies so this will be interesting to see.
To be clear, I’m not taking anything away from Doug Pederson who will forever be my hero for that 2017 Super Bowl season. But some of these old school coaches run their practices in an old school way and with the NFL season now 17 games, injuries and for that matter team depth take on a higher level of importance.
Sounds like he’s going to do it again:
So we don’t have this:
And more of this:
We are not alone:
The Rams too:
I warned you about the links…
Here are a few other observations:
Shortly after the Cowboys were knocked out of the playoffs by the 49ers, Cowboys fans started to throw garbage onto the field.
Could you imagine what the headlines would have been if this happened in Philadelphia? We’ll file this one away and remember it for later.
Staying in the NFC East, Washington Commanders? Really? That’s the best name you could come up with after a two year search? There were so many thoughtful names available and this is what Dan Snyder and his crew of Merry Men decided on? Does anyone in Washington really love this bland and lifeless nickname that seems more in place in a Division 3 college league?
These jokes will write themselves. Here’s one now:
Logo is a taco holder pic.twitter.com/c5SujuaWOM— Alex Rowe (@AxleLaRue) February 2, 2022
By the way do you know who the Commanders starting quarterback is?
I’ll give you some hints:
This is his third team in three years.
He has red hair.
Oh, and he single handedly submarined the 2020 Eagles as well as Coach Doug Pederson’s career.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
The answer is Carson James Wentz. What a disappointment.
Speaking of Doug Pederson, Go Jags!
Assuming the current NFL schedule/playoff format stays the same, in the year 2027 the Super Bowl will fall on Valentine’s Day. I’m already working on a contingency plan.
Hats off to Eagles safety Anthony Harris. He is a true gentleman:
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie spoke with the press a few weeks ago about the state of the team. One of the things that he tried to clarify was the fact that he did not meddle with the team as much as he was accused of. We have often talked about the dysfunction of the Eagles front office but that’s typically during bad years.
He certainly is good at picking coaches since every coach he has hired has made it to the playoffs. He’s also pretty good to his players:
The truth is he’s a pretty good owner.
I will always be grateful for Norman Braman because he rescued the Eagles from moving to Arizona. I will always be grateful for Jeffrey Lurie because he rescued the Eagles from Norman Braman.
Roob summed it up regarding Jeffrey Lurie as owner and, as usual, offered us some pretty compelling stats:
Since 1995, the year that Lurie bought the franchise, only the Patriots, Packers and Colts have been to the playoffs more often than the Eagles.
While we’re at it, here’s Roob’s analysis of Howie Roseman:
“Over the last five years, only the Chiefs have reached the postseason more often and for all their success they’ve won exactly as many Super Bowls as the Eagles.”
As I have said many times before, we tend to be hyper-focused on our own team. Or, as I like to say, “Eagle-centric.” We wallow in the lows much more than we revel in the highs.
Perhaps that’s just human nature. I mean, ask yourself this question: How many times have you contacted the powers that be to complain about something as compared to contacting them to praise something? Or, in a more appropriate context, how many times have you been sitting watching a game and decided to text your friends after a bad play? Now how about after a good play? I’m on enough text chains to know the answer to that one.
So, yes, we focus on the blown draft picks, missed opportunities to pick up free agents and leaked stories about the dysfunction of this organization. But when you look at the Philadelphia Eagles over the past 20 years in a much wider lens there have been more highs than lows. Here’s a sample of what I mean:
The draft starts tomorrow.
This is what our own Dr. David Markowitz had to say:
I am 100% convinced of what Howie is going to do in the draft this year. He will trade picks 15 and 19 to move up into the top 10 and get back another first round pick next year. So he will have a pick around 8-10 and then at 16, and he will watch how Hurts performs this year and if he feels like he wants to add a young QB next year when the draft will be richer in that position he will then be in position to trade down to get his guy because he will have two first round picks next year. It’s a lock.
For the record, he made this prediction long before the Eagles and the Saints swapped all of those draft picks. Not too shabby so far but we’ll see what happens when Daddy gives Howie the keys to the T-Bird once again.
There is more. There is always more. But I guess that brings us up to date.
Philadelphia Eagles you’re on the clock!