Here’s an anecdote for you. I was meeting some friends for dinner last week at Stogie Joe’s on East Passyunk Avenue. I’m driving my car up and down the grid of neighboring streets for 30 minutes looking for a spot because I can parallel park as well as some of you in the comments section can read. Eventually, I drop my car at Broad and Morris. It was what, like 16 degrees? I get out of the car and there’s this guy standing on his front step smoking a cigarette in shorts and a t-shirt like it’s the middle of May. He’s on his phone and sounds completely defeated. “Foles. They’re fucked, man.” The universe set before me the perfect Philadelphia moment. The guy is everybody– he’s emblematic of the consternation sweeping the city. Twitter, sports talk radio, people in bars–there’s a ubiquitous belief that this team is done. There’s even data to prove it:
54% of 6,085 Eagles fans polled believe Birds wont win in playoffs
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) January 1, 2018
It’s funny. This is a city where people blindly believe in a basketball team that features one player made of glass, one who doesn’t even know what fucking hand he shoots with, and another who either has the most debilitating case of shoulder soreness known to man, or worse– developed the yips before he played in an NBA game. It’s also a city filled with impossibly optimistic hockey fans who ignore an obvious reality that the team, you know, isn’t good and hasn’t won anything in over 40 years. No matter.
“Dude, the orange and black are, like, unbeatable when Kate Smith and Lauren Hart team up. Gives me chills, bro.”
Yet here are the Eagles–at 13-3 with home field advantage throughout the playoffs–and there’s a moral certainty among many that they are completely and entirely fucked. Even the players are tired of hearing about it:
We don’t need this type of negative energy to start out 2018. 🙄😒 block these kinda ppl and comments out. Focus on the positives. We def do have some lame and petty fans tho. Sucks to have fans that don’t believe in you. No confidence in us? We all we got! We all we need! https://t.co/WvNNLXYAsn
— LeGarrette Blount (@LG_Blount) January 1, 2018
Does the Carson Wentz injury suck? Yes. Will winning in the postseason be easy? No, of course not. But what did you expect? Did you seriously think we were going to get to sit back, relax and watch as inferior opponents destroy each other for the right to be slaughtered by the Eagles two weeks from now? This is Philadelphia. That type of shit doesn’t happen here. It’s just not meant to be that way.
Blount is right. The best method for approaching the playoffs is to let go of the comfort brought by everybody telling you how good they are and instead embrace an “us against the world” mentality–even if some of the “world” includes easily shaken Eagles fans. My suggestion to those people–stop being soft, get on board, rally around the team, and adopt the same mentality. It shouldn’t be hard. There’s no shortage of doubt. Almost every “expert” who rode the Eagles’ junk for three months is now out on them. Vegas is, too. These were the Super Bowl odds after the Eagles lost in Seattle:
SUPER BOWL ODDS
(16 teams better than 100/1)
Ravens 80 to 1
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) December 5, 2017
Here they are entering the postseason:
Updated odds to win the Super Bowl @LVSuperBook:
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) January 1, 2018
Just to recap, the Eagles won their next three games, on the road against the big bad Rams, in the New York area, and at home against the Raiders on Christmas, securing home field advantage before playing a meaningless game in Week 17, yet their odds still dropped from 6-1 to 15-1? You don’t think that sticks in their craw?
Even a potential playoff opponent has openly postured to line up with the Eagles. You think it’s a coincidence Rams coach Sean McVay rested his starters this Sunday with a chance to clinch the No. 3 seed?
Sean McVay won’t publicly admit why he doesn’t want the No. 3 seed, but clinching that seed takes the Rams out of playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. The Rams would have to play the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis for an opportunity to advance to the NFC Championship.
If the Rams have the No. 4 seed, they have the chance to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Round. Philadelphia is the team everyone wants come playoff time…
The plan didn’t work out because the Saints choked in Tampa Bay, but that’s still next level disrespect. Even if McVay had a different rationale (he didn’t), you can be sure Doug Pederson will sell it to his team that way.
It’s fair to worry about Nick Foles looking like he’s well on his way to approaching Mike McMahon depths of ineptitude given his last five quarters of play. He either couldn’t see the field or didn’t trust what he saw. And the numbers are ugly, too. If he qualified, his 5.3 yards per pass attempt would be dead last in the league, behind Joe Flacco’s 5.72 ypa. But before you completely write off Foles, remember that he’s 22-17 in his career as a starter, even accounting for his season in St. Louis, and is 16-5 as a starter with the Eagles since 2013. Perhaps more importantly, and this is a sentence I didn’t think I’d ever write, he’s being coached by Doug Pederson, who has made a strong case for NFL Coach of the Year. I’d like to think with almost three weeks at his disposal (no doubt he began week ago) to prepare for potential playoff opponents, Doug Pederson can develop a game plan that puts Foles in position to thrive. And if I can’t sell you on that, and I get it may be hard to believe after a tough late season stretch, then it’s worth noting he probably won’t need to drop 30 points a game to get this done.
You’ve probably read by now that the Eagles are 13-3 at home under Doug Pederson, and that’s great. What’s more encouraging is they’ve only allowed 231 points in those 16 games (14.4 ppg) in which the Eagles have:
-Allowed 20 points or less 11 times
-Allowed 15 points or less 10 times
-Allowed 10 points or less 8 times
What’s more, the Eagles boast the league’s best run defense (79.2 ypg), which is better than a Minnesota unit that everybody whizzes their pants over. There’s also this:
The @Eagles defense finished the year with 41 more total pressures than any other unit.
Only team to generate pressure on more than 40% of passing plays.
This is what can win them playoff games.
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) January 1, 2018
There’s a reason multiple teams are reportedly lining up to talk to Jim Schwartz about their head coaching vacancies– and it’s because his defense is pretty fucking good.
Could a listless Eagles team show up in mid-January and be one and done? Sure. But this feeling like we’re in the midst of a death spiral is bullshit. Maybe your favorite television analyst won’t tell you this, but you can say it with me: The Eagles are 13-3, they’re resilient, they’re lights out at home, and they can still get to Minnesota in February. Stop being a bitch and get on board.