Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Philadelphia Eagles

Team trades for shutdown corner and loses him for 9 games after first series in first game.

Team loses very versatile, veteran, savvy do-it-all running back/return man early in the season, along with its kicker.

Team loses top special teams player not that long thereafter.

Team loses future Hall of Famer/left tackle and very good starting middle linebacker in the ninth game.

Not long after that, phenom QB, en route to an MVP season, tears ligaments in his knee, done for the season.

Team finishes 13-3 and is going to the Super Bowl.

Got all that?

Many pundits predicted that the Philadelphia Eagles would go 8-8, perhaps 9-7 at best with this year's team.  Among the question marks going into the season were depth at running back, the ability of a new receiving corps to out-produce last year's group, whether center Jason Kelce could recover from a bad season, and whether the oft-criticized defensive backfield could at least become average.  Atop that, there were worries about the age of starting left tackle Jason Peters (35) and the natural concerns -- nothing elevated, of course -- that Carson Wentz would continue to progress because despite all of the hype, the last half of the 2016 season didn't go all that well for the ream.  The concerns were marked going into the season and became magnified with the personnel losses that occurred during it.

What no fan could have predicted was the quality of work done in the front office (where once-maligned head of football operations Howie Roseman made few mistakes and should be everyone's executive of the year and head coach Doug Pederson, who, quite frankly, few were excited about when Roseman hired him, adjusted well with the personnel he has and coached the team most ably, weathering the losses).  What resulted by the season's end were the following -- a very much "plus" receiving corps, a vastly improved back-up TE in Trey Burton, a defensive backfield that became a big asset with depth, a starting QB who looks like the next great one, a back-up who looks like he might be in demand for a trade and several good running backs.

Teams need a lot of things to go right to get to the Super Bowl.  First and foremost, it goes without saying that they need to play well.  But more than that, they need to adjust their plans for the personnel they have and need to have sufficient depth, because it's a given that key players will get hurt for periods of time.  The Eagles have played well, and they have adjusted for changes to their roster.  The last result underscored the strength of the depth and the team's ability to insert new players and new schemes and take care of the opposition.  It has been impressive to say the least.

The City of Philadelphia remains giddy after the team's convincing win over the Vikings.  That same giddy group probably was in despair after the Vikings scored the game's first touchdown, but now they are starting to focus on the fact that the Eagles have never won the Super Bowl and must defeat a dynasty to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. 

This is a very solid team, replete with good leadership, an esprit de corps that screams "attack" when you see them walk into a stadium, lines that are good at pushing the opposition off the ball and a variety of skill players who can find the end zone.  The Patriots, deservedly so, are the favorites.   Until someone takes the crown from them, they have the right to wear it.  They can continue to burnish the reputation of an already-established dynasty and add luster to their far-reaching shine. 

And the Eagles can finally get to the top of the hill. 

Were they to do so, the City of Philadelphia will party perhaps like no championship has ever partied before.  Yes, the Phillies drew great crowds in 2008.  Fun time.  But if the Eagles were to win the Super Bowl, the parade and parties that will ensue will make the Phillies' celebration look like a toddler's birthday party at Chuck 'E Cheese's. 

As a lifelong fan, it would be fun to watch that explosion.

Fly, Eagles, fly!

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