Category Archives: Eagles

No. 5 Will Always Love You

Donovan McNabb has just been nominated for induction into the National Football League Hall of Fame.

As a fan of a certain age, I can break down Eagles history into three parts: pre-Andy Reid, Andy Reid, and post-Andy Reid.

Pre-Andy Reid

Jeffrey Lurie bought the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994, just in time for nobody’s favorite head coach Rich Kotite to decide it was time to negotiate a contract extension. Kotite had the bad luck of following Buddy Ryan, who WAS a fan favorite (although he never won squat), and his four seasons were lackluster at best. After the Eagles started the 1994 season at 7-2, Lurie said he wouldn’t renew Kotite’s contract, Kotite declared his intention to “explore his options,” and the team fell apart, losing all of the remaining seven games to finish 7-9. The chemistry between Kotite and the new owner (let alone the fans) was never good, and Lurie wasted no time in firing Kotite the day after the final game of 1994. It was Kotite’s only losing season.

People are coming to your house, trying to break into your house, probably sodomize your wife and kids and you don’t do anything about it. –Ray Rhodes

After interviewing several top-level prospects (including the possible return to the NFL of Dick Vermeil), Lurie chose the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49ers, Ray Rhodes, to reconstruct the Eagles team. A large portion of Kotite’s team was cut and replaced with journeymen free agents, and Rhodes, with his bluster and bravado about rapists breaking into the house and sodomizing the players’ wives, would put together a pair of 10-6 seasons, taking the team back to the playoffs each time. Rhodes was hailed as a savior, NFL Coach of the Year, and could have successfully run for mayor of Philadelphia after his first season. His second season ended with a loss in the Wild Card playoff game, and the following two seasons continued a downward trend (6-9-1, then 3-13), and Rhodes soon wore out his own welcome.

Andy Reid

After the meteoric rise and just-as-meteoric fall of coach Rhodes, Lurie began again the search for a new coach to lead the Philadelphia Eagles. He had a chance this time to truly pick “his man” to finally take the team to the Promised Land. To everyone’s surprise, he chose the quarterbacks coach of the Green Bay Packers, Andy Reid, who was on no one’s radar as a possibility. Reid had apparently created a buzz within the NFL as “someone to watch,” but he was a virtual unknown outside the biz.

Eagles fans were stunned, not knowing what to think. In the end, we decided that we’d be patient with the new coach, just happy that Rhodes was gone. Patient, at least, until the NFL Draft in April.

Because of the 3-13 record in 1998, new coach Reid found himself holding the 2nd pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. Having worked so well with Brett Favre, Reid knew that the best foundation of an NFL team was a solid and talented quarterback, and he had several top picks in front of him. 1999 was supposedly extra deep in great young quarterbacks coming out of college. Reid decided on Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb. Tim Couch (KY) was chosen first by the Browns, Akili Smith (Oregon – remember him?) went as the 3rd pick to the Bengals. Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown followed at picks 11 and 12 to Minnesota and Chicago, respectively, for a total of five quarterbacks taken in just the first round of the draft. Of all five, McNabb unquestionably had the longest and best career in the NFL.

Picked No. 2 overall, McNabb was infamously booed by Philly rowdies. They were not booing McNabb, per se, but rather the pick. These fans had fallen in love with the flash and sizzle of running back Ricky Williams and fully expected the Eagles to swoop him up. Coach Reid instead went for the meat and potatoes of a promising rookie quarterback, dashing those dreams. McNabb was not booed, the lack of Ricky Williams was. Still, the booing of McNabb is all that anyone would remember, especially Donovan McNabb.

Coach Reid also knew that a quarterback is only as good as the offensive line in front of him, and so spent two more high draft picks there: Doug Brzezinski (G) and John Welbourn (T).

At the Lehigh training camp that year, I remember watching the quarterbacks warming up. Doug Pederson was the named starter, brought out from Green Bay by new head coach Andy Reid. He was competent, threw a nice ball, certainly on target (given the lack of any defensive pass rush). Then the backup Ty Detmer warmed up, and was singularly unimpressive. Finally, it was the rookie’s turn. ZIP. He threw a bullet so fast that if you blinked, you missed it. As I watched him, I believed that I was watching a thoroughbred among the plodders, someone who was born to be an NFL quarterback. (I don’t overstate – I was amazed.)

The 1999 season saw Doug Pederson start out 0-4, with the rookie McNabb seeing limited action in the second half of the second game. After 0-4 became a 2-7 record, Coach Reid, deciding that the season was lost anyway, finally threw McNabb in as a starting quarterback in game 10 against the Washington Redskins. Even with a poor passing performance, McNabb would win the game 35-28, and the legend of Donovan McNabb was born.

After his rookie season, McNabb and the Eagles would put together a string of amazing years. In 2000, the Eagles went 11-5, won a Wild Card playoff game, then lost in the Divisional round. In 2001, another 11-5 record, and then all the way to the NFC Championship Game. They lost, but the fans didn’t really expect a win that year. 2002, 12-4, and another trip to the NFC Championship. This time, we fully expected the Eagles to go on to the Super Bowl, but the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who “never win in cold weather”) would surprise everyone. Okay, then in 2003 another 12-4 record, and another NFC Championship Game. This time, for sure. But no, the stinkin’ Carolina Panthers – the PANTHERS – would beat the Eagles and end their season. Great. Finally in 2004, the Eagles ran up a 13-3* record, FINALLY got over the NFC Championship Game by beating the Atlanta Falcons (with Michael Vick), and went on to a Super Bowl appearance. Of course, the AFC was represented by the New England Patriots, and although the Eagles were in the game the whole way, they could not steal a win. (*The Eagles could actually have gone 15-1 that year, but for resting starters in their final two games, once home field advantage had been sewn up. See “The Myth of Terrell Owens.”)

Super Bowl XXXIX

That five-year stretch, as historically amazing as it was, defined McNabb’s tenure in Philadelphia. The four NFC Championship appearances should have been joyful, but were actually very frustrating and defeating for the fans. It seemed we would never “get over the hump,” and then when we did, we couldn’t “seal the deal.” As Philadelphia fans, we could make fun of the Buffalo Bills fans – their team was in FOUR STRAIGHT Super Bowls, but could never win one of them. We would have traded places with them gladly, but that was until we tasted consecutive defeats, ourselves. The fans soured on McNabb.

Donovan McNabb would go on to break almost every record (if not every record) by Eagles quarterbacks. His four straight appearances at the NFC Championship Game was an historic achievement for the Eagles, however frustrating, and his trip to one Super Bowl put him in the pantheon with Ron “Jaws” Jaworski (both lost). His head coach, Andy Reid, should have been as beloved in Philadelphia as the previous coach to take an Eagles team to the Super Bowl, Dick Vermeil. (Both coaches have an “ei” combination in their last names. Coincidence? I don’t think so.)

For Eagles fans who hadn’t seen a championship team since the pre-merged-NFL 1960 game at Franklin Field (so long ago that Lambeau Field was still called City Stadium), just “getting to” a Super Bowl was legend. Ron Jaworski lost a Super Bowl, but probably still can’t buy a drink in Philly with his own money. Dick Vermeil burned out and left coaching to broadcast college football games for 15 years, before finally getting back into coaching with the St. Louis Rams (won a Super Bowl) and Kansas City Chiefs. Even so, he is beloved by Eagles fans and will always be known as an Eagles coach.

One wonders what McNabb’s legacy would have been, had he retired after the 2004 season.

2005 was the Year of the Terrible Terrell, in which wide receiver Terrell Owens threw a hissy fit and destroyed the chemistry of the team. In 2005 through 2007, McNabb suffered a series of injuries that put him on the sidelines for long stretches. During this time, his backup, Jeff Garcia, became a Philly folk hero, A.J. Feeley became the Next Great Hope, and even the upcoming rookie Kevin Kolb (NOT the “quarterback of the future”) saw some playing time. After three subpar seasons, McNabb returned to form in 2008, and the Eagles once again made it to an NFC Championship game. But that would prove to be the denouement to McNabb’s career in Philadelphia, and he would ultimately be traded to the Washington Redskins in 2010.

Andy Reid would play merry-go-round with quarterbacks Jeff Garcia, A.J. Feeley, Kevin Kolb, and then finally settle on a reconstituted Michael Vick going forward. But he could never recapture the gold of the early years, and the Eagles would suffer diminishing returns from 2009 through Reid’s last year 2012.

Hanging over McNabb always was the hurt of having been booed and the constant fan appraisal that he “didn’t have the fire,” didn’t burn to win. He was a more cerebral quarterback than we were used to, less emotional. Like his coach, McNabb’s press conferences were almost always a flat monotone, with hesitant, considered answers, and we related this to his style of play. Even though McNabb and the West Coast style of offense kept winning and winning, it was, in the final sum, boring. This was dry, technical football, devoid of the highs and lows, by comparison, of the Buddy Ryan teams that Philly loved. And when the team could no longer put together a drive toward the Super Bowl, the love affair was over.

Football is, after all, entertainment. If it’s not fun to watch, it stops being entertaining.

McNabb would move on, and Andy Reid would hang around a few more years too long.

Post-Andy Reid

Jeffrey Lurie always found one reason or another to keep Reid around for one more year, but eventually had to cut ties with him after the 2012 season.

That year, all of the talk was about the Greatest College Coach of All Time, Chip Kelly. Lurie entered the lottery of teams trying to sign him and eventually did. Unfortunately, over the course of three seasons, Kelly would completely dismantle and lay waste to the Eagles football team. His act wore thin quickly, and three years was enough for Lurie. The personnel moves and coaching style were far too questionable for the owner and the fans, and so Kelly had to go.

So now we return to the Andy Reid school, and his offensive coordinator (and former Eagles quarterback) Doug Pederson is now strolling the sidelines in Philadelphia. In a bit of deja vu, Pederson maneuvered his way to the 2nd pick overall in the draft and chose his own quarterback, Carson Wentz. The pick made Eagles fandom say “huh?” as Wentz comes out of a Division I (FCS) school, not even the FBS level division, but I don’t think it was booed. Luckily, Wentz starts out with a fairly good offensive line in front of him. He played so unexpectedly well in his first game that his No. 11 jersey became the best-selling NFL jersey over the following week and the Monday Night Football crew in Game 2 couldn’t stop praising his name to the heavens. (Thankfully, he played just as well on MNF!)

Time will tell whether Pederson and Wentz can come close to duplicating what Reid and McNabb accomplished in Philadelphia, but they’re off to a good start. Mighty big shoes to fill.

Donovan McNabb compiled 16 playoff games, including (5) NFC East division titles, the (5) NFC Championship appearances (1 win), and a Super Bowl appearance. His career stats and achievements, including Eagles records held, are at Wikipedia.

McNabb was inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame and his No. 5 jersey was officially retired.

New England’s Tom Brady, no matter what he may or may not have done, will go into the Hall of Fame the day after he finally hangs up his cleats. He is arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game. A case can be made either way as to whether Donovan McNabb, without a Super Bowl win, deserves to be inducted. But I keep saying that McNabb had better make it into the Hall of Fame, because if he doesn’t, then Tony Romo, the greatest quarterback to never win a damn thing, has NO shot.

(I should also point out that another nominee for the Hall this year is our old friend, No. 12 Randall Cunningham. I’d like to see him in there, as he defined the “entertainment” of football.)

The Eagles players nominated for induction into the Hall in 2017 include 1st-time nominees Brian Dawkins (a shoe-in) and Donovan McNabb. Also includes previously nominated and instantly recognizable players Terrell Owens (finalist in 2016), Eric Allen, Seth Joyner, Ricky Watters, Troy Vincent, Sean Landeta, and Brian Mitchell.

Year Record Result   Division Winner
1999 5-11   McNabb named starter Game 10 Redskins
2000 11-5 Playoffs Wild Card
Divisional (L, Giants)
Giants
2001 11-5 NFC East Wild Card
Divisional
NFC Championship (L, St. Louis)
Eagles
2002 12-4 NFC East Divisional
NFC Championship (L, Tampa Bay)
Eagles
2003 12-4 NFC East Divisional
NFC Championship (L, Carolina)
Eagles
2004 13-3 NFC East Divisional
NFC Championship (W, Atlanta)
Super Bowl (L, New England)
Eagles
2005 6-10     Giants
2006 10-6 NFC East Wild Card
Divisional (L, New Orleans)
Eagles
2007 8-8     Giants
2008 9-6-1 Playoffs Wild Card
Divisional
NFC Championship (L, Arizona)
Giants
2009 11-5 Playoffs Wild Card (L, Dallas)
Goodbye, Donovan
Cowboys
2010 10-6 NFC East Wild Card (L, Green Bay) Eagles
2011 8-8     Giants
2012 4-12   Goodbye, Andy Reid.
Hello, Chip Kelly
Redskins
2013 10-6 NFC East Wild Card (L, New Orleans) Eagles
2014 10-6     Cowboys
2015 7-9   Goodbye Chip Kelly.
Hello, Doug Pederson
Redskins

Can it get worse? Sure.

September 4 I was so impressed with the Eagles’ preseason play that I wrote a post to say that I saw a 13-3 record this year, noting that other luminaries brighter than I also saw a Super Bowl appearance in February.

By October 26, I was so disappointed that I called the season. That didn’t take long. After the loss to the Panthers (a team that I saw as ripe for the picking), I jumped off the Chip Kelly bandwagon. After that, he would have to prove something to me before I bought back in.

The Eagles went on to beat the Dallas Cowboys. In fairness, the Cowboys were playing with a backup quarterback, but even with a healthy Tony Romo the Cowboys are a very bad team. I should delight in every win against Dallas, but this one was so shaky, so inept, that I came away thinking no better of the team than after the Panthers loss.

And then it got worse.

Watching the Eagles play the Miami Dolphins, I knew I was seeing a team that had flat-out quit. No, not the Eagles, the Dolphins. The Miami players were just going through the motions, putting in time and ready to roll over and lose. But the Eagles gave them the idea that they could actually win a game here in Philly, so they took it. In the end, it was the Eagles that gave the game away. And I was disgusted.

And today, last year’s worst team in the NFL came to Philly and completely exposed and embarrassed this Eagles team. Tampa Bay had the first pick in the draft because they earned it – by being horrible. How a team goes from worst in the league to beating a “Super Bowl contender” is beyond me. The Eagles gave the Legend of Jameis Winston a jumpstart, allowing him to throw five touchdown passes in the game.

The Eagles have made many a mediocre player look like a Hall of Fame prospect. I’m not saying that Winston is mediocre – he was, after all, the first pick in the draft. I’m just saying that a rookie quarterback should never be able to throw five touchdowns againt any team in his first year.

The Eagles lay down in all three phases of the game. No fire, no spirit, no will to win. The team has quit, just like Andy Reid’s last team quit on him.

Looking ahead (at the schedule in which I used to see 13 wins), it’s hard to say that this Eagles team could win two more games, only to reach 8-8 (the definition of mediocre). Without question, this is a serious step backward from the 2014 campaign, which, itself, was actually a step backward from Kelly’s first season in 2013.

We’re going in the wrong direction.

I don’t expect any changes in coaching or management before the end of the season, but I do have to wonder whether Mr. Lurie will want to “go in a different direction.”

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In Chip We Trust, Part II

As President George W. Bush famously said, “Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me… You can’t get fooled again!”

The phrase he was looking for is, of course, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. ” Commander Scott had it right in Star Trek, but Mr. Bush was obviously not a fan.

I’m a fan. I’m a fan of Star Trek since its very first airing almost 50 years ago, and I’m a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles since their first trip to the Super Bowl in the 1980 season. Like every other Eagles fan, I’ve learned to live and die with this team. A win ensures a positive frame of mind for at least a week. A loss is painful for several days, and some losses (Cowboys) are more painful than others.

Every season makes me wonder, what’s wrong with Philadelphia? How is it that every other team in our division has won multiple Super Bowls, and the high point of our millennium is just getting there. Andy Reid will forever be the greatest coach in Eagles history because he GOT US THERE. Didn’t even have to win, because we don’t set the bar that high, just getting there defines greatness.

I drank the Buddy Ryan KoolAid®. Loved his defense, loved his bluster, loved his intimidation. After I realized that it was all just hot air and that his teams would never actually win anything, I thought it was time to move on.

So I drank the Ray Rhodes KoolAid®. Ray blew into town unexpectedly, talking about rape and sodomy, and had two good years full of promise. He was the toast of Philadelphia until the two following and disappointing years revealed him as mortal. Time to go, Ray.

I did NOT drink the Andy Reid KoolAid® until sometime in his second year. Reaching the NFC Championship game, in this town, is historic. How quickly we get hooked on the KoolAid® – after the third straight trip to the NFC Championship and the third straight loss, we fans were seriously considering asking Coach Reid to leave. Yet each year of his (eventually) four NFC Championship games was written in the books in ink – he was setting Eagles history every year.

The problem with Coach Reid was that the KoolAid® wore off, and Reid stayed too long. He lost the team, he lost the fans, and he lost his job.

Bring on the fresh KoolAid®, because we never learn!

Here comes Chip Kelly, the most sought-after coach ever to come out of the college ranks. 31 NFL teams were trying to recruit him as head coach (the 32nd team had just won the Super Bowl, so they were set), and the Eagles and Jeff Lurie won the lottery. Chip was the saviour, the can’t-lose coach that could resurrect an Eagles team that had flat-out quit. The results were instant in his first year – 10-6 and a playoff game (loss). Excellent start, and the hype must be true.

His second year… again 10-6, but no playoffs. But he had excuses.

In the offseason, he drove us all crazy with personnel moves that made no sense, but in the preseason games, the Eagles showed incredible promise – enough that several professionals (Joe Banner, sports journalists, and me) saw the ultimate prize on the horizon. The upside to this team was limitless. Kelly was a genius, misunderstood by all of the cynics.

I wrote that this team would go 13-3.

But somewhere between the preseason and the opening game in Atlanta, the team turned into the Bizarro Eagles, totally unprepared to take the field. They lost that first game, and lost it badly. No spirit, no fire, no desire. Inexplicable, but here come the Cowboys, and a win would wipe away the stink.

They lost to the Cowboys. At that point, I thought the season was over, the team looked that bad. I thought, if they lost to the Jets they could easily go 0-7 into the Bye. But they beat the Jets and the KoolAid® kicked in again.

Then they lost to a really bad Redskins team, and we were looking at the number one draft pick in 2016. Again, the Eagles just lay down like dogs.

Wins against the Saints and the Giants and another sip o’ KoolAid® had me believing that they were on a run. The Panthers were undefeated, but they were the worst of the undefeateds, with four of their wins against absolutely pitiful teams. They could be taken.

But, no, the Eagles lost to the Panthers. The season is over.

In the 7th game of the season, the Eagles still look unprepared. The defense was getting better each week, but the Panthers’ ground game was too much for them. Again I’m watching the old bounce-off non-tackles, instead of solid wrapping up. The offense still doesn’t have it together. You watch the Panther receivers catch pass after pass, and you realize that these are “average” NFL receivers, while our guys have the ball bounce off their chest, off their hands. Our guys are apparently below average.

At this point, the Eagles cannot finish better than 8-8 (9-7, asks the optimist?). That makes this year a flat-out disaster. The KoolAid® pitcher is empty. I’m already looking at the offseason and counting the players that need to be upgraded.

I don’t think that Coach Kelly is going anywhere. He’ll probably have at least two more years to prove himself. But that’s exactly what he’s going to have to do – prove himself. He no longer gets a pass, no longer gets the benefit of a doubt. Show me something, give me a reason to cheer.

Otherwise, I’ll be sitting in my La-Z-Boy wondering how I could have been fooled so badly. Again.

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The Myth of Terrell Owens

The common belief among Eagles fans is that Terrell Owens (T.O.) is the reason that the Eagles played in the Super Bowl after the 2004 season.

Terrell Owens did not take the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2004. He was not the Difference Maker. I think that Eagles fans then and Eagles fans now forget just how good the Eagles team was at that time.

2001 – McNabb’s 2nd full year as starter, an 11-5 record, won the division, lost the NFC Championship to the Rams

2002 – 12-4 record, won the division, lost the NFC Championship to the Buccaneers

2003 – 12-4 record, won the division, reached the NFC Championship Game for the third straight year. This time, it was the lowly Carolina Panthers that would knock the Eagles out and advance to the Super Bowl, while the Eagles went on vacation. Three straight years, three straight losses in the NFC Championship.

The best team in the NFC saw three different teams step over them on the way to the Super Bowl. If only there was a way to get them over that hump, so the Eagles could reach the Promised Land.

Enter Terrell Owens, a controversial pick-up.

Donovan McNabb may have lobbied Andy Reid to pick up T.O. (likely lobbied Andy Reid), but regardless, it was done. T.O. came to the Eagles, and the 2004 Eagles got off to an incredible start. Seven straight victories before losing in Pittsburgh, followed by five more wins before hosting Dallas at the Linc. Terrell Owens was injured in that Cowboys game (the Eagles won anyway), and would miss the rest of the season and the entire playoffs. The Eagles were 13-1 at that point.

In the last two games against the Rams and Bengals, the Eagles rested some starters. Had they not, they could easily have ended up 15-1. It was enough that they had already won home field advantage through the playoffs.

Amazingly, all three of the other NFC East teams – the Redskins, the Giants, the Cowboys – ended the 2004 season at 6-10. It is a GIVEN that the Eagles would have won the division, with or without Owens.

It is extremely likely that the Eagles would have won 12 or 13 games, with or without Owens. They may not have earned home field advantage, but that would have made little difference in the playoffs. And, remember, the Eagles DID have home field advantage in 2002 and in 2003, having learned their lesson in St. Louis in 2001.

As it is, the Eagles had a bye, followed by impressive wins against the Vikings and then Falcons. And, of course, the Eagles won these two playoff games WITHOUT OWENS.

T.O. rushed back from his injury so that he could play in the Super Bowl. A less-than-100% Owens may actually have HURT the Eagles during that game, but his presence certainly did not win that game!

So I ask the question: how, exactly, is Terrell Owens responsible for the Eagles being in the Super Bowl in 2004?

(Answer: He’s not. It’s a myth.)

2004 NFC CHAMPIONS
Record: 13-3 1st in NFC East
Head Coach: Andy Reid

9/12 NY Giants W 31-17
9/20 Minnesota Vikings W 27-16
9/26 @ Detroit Lions W 30-13
10/3 @ Chicago Bears W 19-9
10/17 Carolina Panthers W 30-8
10/24 @ Cleveland Browns W 34-31
10/31 Baltimore Ravens W 15-10
11/7 @ Pittsburgh Steelers L 3-27
11/15 @ Dallas Cowboys W 49-21
11/21 Washington Redskins W 28-6
11/28 @ New York Giants W 27-6
12/5 Green Bay Packers W 47-17
12/12 @ Washington Redskins W 17-14
12/19 Dallas Cowboys W 12-7 (Owens injured)
12/27 @ St. Louis Rams L 7-20
1/2 Cincinnati Bengals L 10-38
NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF
1/16 Minnesota Vikings W 27-14
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
1/23 Atlanta Falcons W 27-10
SUPER BOWL 39 (at Jacksonville)
2/6 New England Patriots L 21-24

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In Chip We Trust (?)

A couple of months back (I swear, it was only a couple of months), the talk in Philadelphia was about how Chip Kelly had lost it. He was making very questionable moves with his personnel, sending his best players elsewhere. We began to think he was crazy. Now, after seeing in preseason what he had put together on the field, we are looking forward to a very good year.

— History —

Like every good bandwagon-jumping fan, I came on board during the good times. It was 1979, and Dick Vermeil was coach, Ron Jaworski quarterback. These guys would lead the team to a Super Bowl (okay, they lost), along with players who would become Philadelphia legends (even though they lost). It seemed that the best the Eagles could do was get TO the Super Bowl.

Dick Vermeil gave way to Marion Campbell, and I must have slept through those years. Nothing worth remembering. But…

To shake things up, there was Buddy Ryan. He was FUN, putting together a defense for the ages. Never won anything, but at least it was entertainment. Ron Jaworski gave way to Randall Cunningham, a man with tons of talent and no offensive coaching to speak of. Never won anything, but he was damned entertaining.

Buddy Ryan gave way to Richie Kotite (Richie the K), who was nothing but annoying. He never won anything AND he was annoying. In his last year, the team lay down like dogs, and I wanted Richie AND everyone who played for him gone.

Be careful what you wish for, because in came Ray Rhodes and talk of sodomy. Yeah, Ray had a couple of winning years and the fans gave him the key to the city. He could have been mayor of Philadelphia, if he’d wanted that. But then the losing came, and Ray’s coaching style began to stink. Ray went from Coach of the Year in 1995 to Out the Door in 1998. Then came…

Andy Reid. The winningest, bestest damn coach in Eagles history (Eagles NFL history, that is). Andy, too, took the Eagles to the Super Bowl (and LOST), after an historic string of four straight NFC Championship games (three LOST, one WON). We had never seen such success in our football team in the modern era (yeah, yeah, Champions in 1960, but you’d have to be, like, 70 to even remember such a thing). We had a glimpse of the Promised Land, before the long, slow decline into irrelevance. Andy set the bar awful high, but in the end couldn’t get over that bar himself. It seemed, eventually, that Andy had lost the team, and Andy, too, had to go.

— end History —

Enter Chip Kelly. Kelly is now in his third year, has caused a great amount of turnover on the Eagles squad, and has assembled what is arguably “Kelly’s team.” After a rough offseason (rough for the fans), and after a surprising preseason (yes, I know, preseason), this team looks poised to improve upon Kelly’s first two years. And I do mean improve.

Kelly dumped DeSean Jackson. Were the Eagles receiving corps better then, or are they better now? Kelly showed LeSean McCoy the door. Were the Eagles running backs better then, or are they better now? The offense, IMO, is much improved, and the offense didn’t exactly stink before!

So, here’s how I see the 2015 season ahead of us.

The Eagles play only five teams this year that had a winning record last year. The rest are really bad, I mean awful, teams and the Eagles should beat them all (that would be 10 wins right there) –
Tampa Bay BUCCANEERS 2-14
New York JETS 4-12
Washington REDSKINS 4-12
New York GIANTS 6-10
Carolina PANTHERS 7-8-1
Atlanta FALCONS 7-9
New Orleans SAINTS 7-9
Miami DOLPHINS 8-8

I throw a loss to the Saints, who play tough in New Orleans, because the Eagles should be coasting on autopilot when they head down to NOLA. A wake-up game.

Then, three “good” teams, all of whom the Eagles should beat –
Buffalo BILLS 9-7 (The McCoy Reunion game, smackdown)
Detroit LIONS 11-5 (We love picking on those Lions)
Arizona CARDINALS 11-5 (Here in Philly in late December)

That leaves the “powerhouse” teams, the fraud Cowboys and the for-real Patriots –
New England PATRIOTS 12-4
Dallas (sucks) COWBOYS 12-4

We split with Dallas (sucks) (the Cowboys are a little worse this year, the Eagles a little better, and Dallas still has a Tony Romo problem) and lose to the Patriots.

The Eagles have no problem scoring points, and should now score even MORE points, whether it’s Bradford or Sanchez behind center. Our weakness was our defense, specifically the corners and safeties who were royally exposed. Assuming the run and pass defense improves over last year (as it should), the Eagles should be able to hold opponents’ scoring down below the Eagles’ own 30+ average.

I see 13 – 3, with the division title and home field advantage.

If I’m off by one (I can see losing in Detroit on a very short week), 12 -4 gets the division title but may not guarantee home field. Even if I’m off by two (and I don’t think I am), it’s still a bit of an improvement in Kelly’s third year, and the future is still looking good.

Time to put the seatbelt back on my La-Z-Boy.

 

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