10 Reasons to Feel Good About the Eagles
Oh, Eagles fans, how I know your pain: the pain of your love and devotion being repaid with nothing but pain and anguish. Since you’re new to being out of the picture at this point in the season, take my advice and invest in next year. Don’t worry about your last two games. If you win, great, but recognize that you would honestly be better off finishing 4-12 to move up in the draft. So relax and watch football free of emotional attachment.
As the voice of Washington on the Wooder Cooler, I can say that I’ve been doing this for years. I’ve had to dig deep to find things to look forward to, so as a public service to the City of Brotherly Love, I am applying my skills to this year’s Eagles.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present: 10 Reasons to Feel Good about the Eagles.
1. It can’t get any worse, right?
In an act I’m sure you’re familiar with, I am currently looking down the Eagles’ roster and wondering how in the world this team is 4-10. There is too much talent for that to make sense. And this is not a possession of talent in a Detroit Lions, we’ve drafted a Wide Receiver in the top 5 four of the last five years, kind of way. We’re talking about proven commodities: offensive players who have terrorized defenses and defensive players who have shut down great opposing players and even entire portions of the field.
It is not my place to say what Andy Reid should have been doing with this group of players, but I have to believe that there is a coach that can squeeze more than 4-10 out of it.
2. The Ridiculousness that is the NFL Draft
How absurd is the NFL’s monopoly on the American Sports Marketplace? The NFL Draft is a more popular event than the Stanley Cup Finals, the NBA Finals, and the World Series. That’s right, the games that determine the Champions of the other three major sports leagues are less popular than a glorified press conference featuring 20-22 year olds who may or may not end up being good players. Think about that. Now think about ESPN and the bloated amount of airtime they grant the NFL and College Football. The NFL Draft combines the two.
You may have had a bad year, but now you get to spend three months listening to countless breakdowns of how the Eagles will use the draft. Who will they take? Will they trade up? Will they trade down? Will the team picking before or after them trade up or trade down? How might those hypothetical trades impact the Eagles’ selection? Will Michael Vick ever be healthy? If he won’t, is Nick Foles the guy? If Nick Foles isn’t the guy, do you take Matt Barkley? If you don’t take Matt Barkley, do you trade up to take Geno Smith? How much would you give to move up to take Geno Smith? Wouldn’t it be better to use the draft to build the infrastructure necessary for a quarterback to succeed? Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
Sit back, crack a beer, and get ready to learn more than you ever wanted to know about the ten best players in this year’s Draft.
3. Solid Skill Position Players
The Eagles have a couple of glaring weaknesses, the offensive line perhaps the most glaring among them. For reasons that I’ve never understood, teams do not value their offensive linemen the way they do skill position players. This plays to the advantage of teams like the Eagles, though, in that between free agency and the draft, an offensive line can undergo serious revamp and improvement in one offseason. It takes much longer than one offseason to develop a core of solid skill position players because those are visible game-changers.
The Eagles are set in that area. Michael Vick is perfectly capable when healthy. LeSean McCoy was among the best running backs in the league last year. Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have looked like one of the league’s best pairs of wide receivers in the recent past.
Concerned about those players’ drop-offs this year? Don’t be. The offensive line is the engine that makes every offense go. It gives running backs places to go, and it gives wide receivers time to stretch the field. Expect a much-improved offensive line next year that will give your skill guys the chance to make the plays they are capable of.
4. You Get to Play the Worst Division in Football Next Year
I speak, of course, of the AFC West. The AFC West is the worst division in the NFL by a decisive margin and has been for the better part of a decade. The Broncos’ attempt to restore divisional respectability presents a formidable challenge, but how many times do you get to look at a division and say, “Three wins we should absolutely have” or, “Three games we have no excuse to lose?”
Did I mention that both California opponents are playing in Philly? No red-eye games. You have to travel to Denver and Kansas City, but it’s a lot better than Oakland and San Diego. NFC East teams had a difficult draw this year having to play the NFC South and AFC North. Next year, the sledding is less tough.
5. You’ll Get Back to Basics
I listed above the number of flashy, exciting players the Eagles have and how that bodes well. But, maybe, they’ve also been a part of the problem. Andy Reid’s best teams were never the teams that had a whole lot of big names and flashy players at the skill positions. Andy Reid’s best teams featured Donovan McNabb handing off to Duce Staley and throwing to James Thrash, FredEx Mitchell, and, worst of all, Todd Pinkston. Why did that work? Because that was a team that did all of the little things correctly, didn’t turn the ball over too much, and was rock solid along both lines. They had few big names on defense, but combined complex looks and an effective pass rush to keep opposing offenses off balance.
Having Desean Jackson is great, but without an offensive line to give him 3 or 4 seconds to get downfield, he won’t be effective. The Eagles need to remember that, ultimately, controlling the line of scrimmage is essential to winning football games. And they will.
6. This is the NFL, not MLB
The NFL captivates us as fans for a variety of reasons, but one of them is definitely that it deliberately strives for parity among its teams. There’s a hard salary cap, there’s no draft lottery, and all of the NFLs television revenue gets put into one big Commie pot and distributed evenly 32 ways.
This isn’t baseball where it might take five years just to get out of the division cellar. This is a league that features at least one team going from rags to riches every single year. With the amount of talent already in place in Philly, why couldn’t that team be the Eagles next year?
7. It is Easier to Correct an Underachiever than Sustain an Overachiever
Every so often, it being the rags to riches league, the NFL will produce a team that plays significantly above its talent level. A recent example would be the 10-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 2010. That season was sandwiched between seasons of 3-13 and 4-12 in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Which season appears to be the aberration? You can teach work ethic, you can teach fundamentals, you can’t teach talent. The Bucs never had it. The Eagles do. The next coach will not have to rebuild the team from scratch. They simply have to right the ship. That is a much easier task.
8. Nnamdi Island
Nnamdi Asomugha has been a tremendous disappointment, but I also don’t think he’s been properly used. The reason Eagles fans were dancing around their homes when they heard about the Nnamdi signing was that they had acquired the services of one of two or three of the league’s shutdown corners. Nnamdi doesn’t fit into schemes. He should only ever have one job: “There’s the other team’s best Wide Receiver. Man-to-man coverage all day. Go.” Champ Bailey, Darrell Green, and many other shutdown corners of days gone by have had great careers well into their 30s. I don’t expect Nnamdi to be any different.
9. HOCKEY SEASON!
10. You could be a Jaguars fan
This season has gone about as poorly as it could have gone for the Eagles, but just remember that things could be much worse for you as a fan.
So buck up, Philly. Your team has enjoyed a decade of success under Andy Reid and this season will soon be a distant memory as your team gets back to winning and you’re reminded of why you love them so much, even when times get hard.
In closing, this being Redskins-Eagles week, I would like to say that I don’t much care for any of you people and that I hope Nick Foles throws five Interceptions. Cheers.