Monday, December 8, 2008

How Exactly Did We Get Here?

Let me lay out a little scenario for you. It's getting late in the season, and your team just tied a one-win football team. This happens after already blowing a a couple winnable games, failing on 3rd-and-1 more than any team in football, and the offense looks awful. The season hangs in the balance, yet the team gets blown out in the next game, its franchise quarterback benched and the coach feeling the heat from the masses.

Fast-forward two weeks later, and suddenly, the Eagles, with a loss by Atlanta, find themselves controlling their playoff lives. What?!? How the fuck did that happen? I mean, seriously, two weeks ago this team looked dead. Donovan was being shipped out. Calls for the Kevin Kolb era were heard loud and clear. Andy was on the hot seat like never before, and everyone was ready to give up on 2008 and start the rebuilding process.

I mean, this team couldn't even pick up one yard when the game depended on it—literally. Yet here we are. Two dominant performances later, and the Eagles find themselves in a favorable situation thanks to losses by the Cowboys, Redskins and Falcons. Win out, have the Falcons lose once, and presto, the Birds are in the playoffs. And an Atlanta loss is within reason. Next week, the Falcons host the division-leading 9-3 Bucs followed by a game on the road against another division leader, the Minnesota Vikings. While they do wrap it up with St. Louis, losing to either the Bucs or Vikings (or both) is a very real possibility. Meanwhile, the Eagles host the Browns next Monday night, then travel to Washington and finish up with the Cowboys at home.

The real question is, how the hell did they get here? The simple answer: Andy Reid finally stopped being the most stubborn, arrogant asshole alive and started running the ball. The last two games, the Eagles ran 81 times and either passed or got sacked 71 times. In the win against Arizona, they ran 40 times and dropped back to pass 40 times. Against the Giants, they ran 41 times and dropped back to pass 31 times. The results, Brian Westbrook having his best two games of the season, and the Eagles coming away with their two biggest wins of the year.

Prior to the last two games, the Eagles had not rushed the ball more or as much as they had passed it once all year. In fact, in the first 11 games, they passed or were sacked 449 times and ran 260 times. That's passing more than 63 percent of the time and running just a little more than 36 percent of the time. In those games, the Eagles' offense was the most inconsistent group in the National Football League. Some games, they looked like they could score 50 points; others, they made the Lions look good. Honestly, this is not rocket science. Get more balanced, get better.

The Eagles have finally done that, and now suddenly are back in the playoff race, for real. It's incredible, because this team really instills no confidence in me, and I suspect, most Eagles fans. Honestly, yesterday, when the Giants blocked that field goal right before halftime and returned it for a touchdown, making it a 10-7 game, did anyone think the Eagles were still going to win? I sure didn't. Although they played so well in the first half, that had the makings of another collapse. Yet they didn't. Because they kept running the ball, feeding Westbrook, and toppled the defending champs in the process. The defense played great, and all the sudden, the mood is entirely different.

And once again, I'd like to point out just how dumb this all is. If the Eagles turn this around, actually make the playoffs, Andy is off the hook. If they just miss out, he's off the hook. People will talk about how they were this close, how Andy rallied the troops at the end of the season. But in reality, had he just used common sense, followed the footprint of Super Bowl winning teams, just ran the fucking ball a little bit, this team could easily have 10 or 11 wins, sitting the driver's seat for a playoff birth. Now they have to scratch and claw their way in down the stretch, and even if they take care of business, need some help.

It's a nice situation to be in, almost controlling their own destiny. But what should not be lost in the shuffle is the fact that the Eagles put themselves in this precarious position because the head coach failed to put his players in the best situation to win games early on. But still, here they are, with a chance. And again, I ask, how exactly did we get here?


  1. Here's my metaphor...

    You head out on a weekend night. Have some good action with a nice looking chick early, then end up getting bombed and make a fool out of yourself a the party. Miraculously, you recover at like 2am long enough to bump uglies in the bathroom with her for a bit, and then never talk to her again.

    That will be the Eagles season.

  2. If we're are banging, that's a win … so does that me this team makes the playoffs?