Philadelphia Eagles: Originators of the “Next Year” Offense
The Philadelphia Eagles ended their 2010-11 season yesterday in the exact same way it began, with a loss, at home, to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
It was a crazy roller-coaster season for the Birds. They traded away Donovan McNabb to the Redskins before the season began and opted to go with Kevin Kolb as their new QB. In the season opener (against the Packers), Kolb was knocked out of the game and Mike Vick came in to replace him. What happened next, no one could have imagined. Mike Vick, once a pro-bowl QB before losing everything and going to prison, roared back to life.
At times over the course of the season Vick looked unstoppable. He put up record numbers against the Redskins. He became a pocket QB. There was talk of the Super Bowl and as Vick for MVP.
Down 21 points to the Giants in the final quarter of the game, he helped spark a 28 point comeback in just eight minutes to help the Eagles secure the NFC East title. The Eagles would lose their next game to the Vikings but after sitting out the final game of the season (against the Cowboys) to get healthy for the Packers, expectations were high.
Just when Philadelphia (and the rest of the world) began to think that there wasn’t anything Vick couldn’t do, he proved that we were all right. He could do anything, including lose.
Down just five points with the ball in the final minutes, Vick and the Eagles were driving. He hit DeSean Jackson for a big play (that almost went for a TD). Then he hit Riley Cooper for another first down. With just under a minute to go the Eagles (out of time-outs) were on the Packers doorstep, ready for Vick to continue his rise to football redemption.
Instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock, Vick rushed the team up to the line, snapped the ball, and threw it to the end zone for a… a… an interception. In one second the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field, and Eagles fans around the world, went from the verge of bliss to the depths of sorrow.
In the aftermath of the painful loss, Eagles fans must now rely on the same mantra we’ve always had: “Next Year”.
Maybe what hurts the most is that after all of the Next Year’s with McNabb, it finally felt like this season might be different with a new QB. After all of the season’s without weapons for McNabb we surrounded Vick with Maclin, McCoy, Celek, and Jackson. We had one of the best kickers in football, and then last night David Akers missed, twice.
The Eagles will need to improve in many areas before next year: the offensive line is a mess, they need to improve their secondary and linebackers, and above all else, there is the QB situation. Vick is a free agent and Kevin Kolb has said that he wants to be the starter or be traded. The Eagles could use their franchise tag on Vick (unless a new CB agreement doesn’t include a franchise tag) but he’s sure to be somewhat unhappy without a long term deal. Kolb also cannot be traded for draft picks until a new CB agreement between the owners and players union can be reached.
Then there is head coach Andy Reid. Is it time for him to go? Many fans would say “no”. We’re not so sure. We’d like to see what a different head coach could bring to the table although we are very doubtful that Eagles management will show him the door anytime soon. They seem content to make the playoffs but we haven’t had a playoff win in over two seasons. For a team with so much talent and such loyal fans, that is hard to swallow.
It should be an interesting off-season for the Eagles. This season gave fans a lot to be excited about but it’s hard to look forward to Next Year when the disappointment of losing feels identical to Last Year (and all the years before it).
This seems like the appropriate place to mention two things: The Phillies & Cliff Lee.