Michael Conroy is a freelance sportswriter and Flyers fan, and a guest writer for Spike Eskin Dot Com. You can find him on Twitter @MichaelConroyPM.
When I awoke on Monday morning and reflexively logged onto twitter, I honestly don’t know what I was expecting to find. Maybe I was hoping for some perspective regarding the state of the Philadelphia Eagles. I may have been searching for that one rational, dissenting opinion that would validate my own, but I found neither.
Like a spoiled brat on Christmas morning, I scrolled past column after morning-after column with a look of disappointment and anger cemented on my face. Each story I read seemed to antagonize me, spewing copious amounts of nauseating unbridled optimism. Since I’ve yet to find my knight in shining armor, (or maybe I just don’t follow him/her on twitter) please allow me this moment to set the record straight.
The Philadelphia Eagles are currently the worst team in the NFC, an ascending, stacked conference. With a -21 turnover ratio, they are the second-worst team at protecting the football in the entire NFL. The Eagles are also tied for dead last in forcing turnovers and despite the outpouring of praise for the “miracle” win on Sunday, these numbers only worsened vs. the Buccaneers.
Additionally, after holding a 10-0 lead early on in Sunday’s game, the Eagles remained true to form, doing absolutely nothing else until they had surrendered that lead with interest. On even an average NFL team, this would be disheartening, but in Philly, this has become par for the course. Surrendering that lead to an average NFL team is understandable in some respects, but the way in which it was surrendered has to remain unacceptable. Wide open, unchallenged ball carriers in the run and pass game gashed the Eagles repeatedly in the 4th `uarters. This can not become acceptable and, for some reason, this season absolutely has.
We all understand that this team will be completely shaken up at the season’s end. Andy Reid will lose his job, deservedly, due entirely to his own failings. What will remain here, however, for years to come is a player base and a culture. The football culture of a team is more important than many give it credit for. The Ravens, Giants, Steelers, Eagles, Patriots, and now 49ers have been shining examples of an expected level of performance elevating the play of otherwise sub-par players.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ football culture; one that was forged on the backs Brian Dawkins, Donovan Mcnabb, Brian Westbrook and other stalwarts of the early 2000’s has been damaged. When Bryce Brown is being lauded for his grit and ability despite single-handedly fumbling away a chance to win back-to-back games, something is wrong. In a winning football culture, that running back hits the bench for as long as it takes to get the message. In a winning football culture, the cornerbacks and safeties put a hit on a player who’s about to waltz into the endzone anyway instead of throwing their arms up and trying to figure out who’s fault it was.
In some respects, I get the need to feel positive about your favorite sports team. The Eagles have been a source of dread for about two years now and fans are desperate for something to be happy about. This team does not deserve that. They still don’t try hard enough to deserve that. Still, here we are again, a team trying to pile up wins against average teams after the pressures of the season have been taken off their shoulders is being celebrated. This team that can’t make a play on a duck pass floating over the heads of over 50 million dollars worth of players; this team that is brought off of the bench in celebration of a routine open field tackle is actually being celebrated.
I realize that my opinion is my own and you’re certainly entitled to be happy for your favorite sports team, but I felt the need to provide this validation for anyone else out there feeling like it’s Groundhog day. If you’re reading this, fellow incredulous fan, you aren’t on crazy pills.The Philadelphia Eagles are still a bunch of quitters, whiners, bums and most importantly, losers and barely getting a fourth “W” in the middle of December doesn’t change that.