The Prospects of the Philadelphia Eagles Football Team: An Editorial
The Philadelphia Eagles stand at 9-6 right now. They will finish their season with a winning record, either 9-7 or 10-6. That's the first thing I want to get out of the way. As we all know, there are several teams that wouldn't mind that kind of finish this year, including the entire NFC South division.
The second thing I want to get out of the way is this: In my humble opinion, the prospects of the Eagles, with Chip Kelly as head coach---who, I believe, is destined to make his mark on the National Football League, and Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback---are very bright.
Let me get a third thing out of the way. I may be the only person in America who thinks this, but, according to my own 'eye test,' Mark Sanchez has proven himself to be a very solid, starting-caliber quarterback in the National Football League---one who would have been a better quarterback today, had he not been robbed of five years of professional development (which he will never get back) being on the New York Jets under head coach Rex Ryan---a beautiful human being, to be sure according to all reports, a defensive genius, a relentlessly positive, great motivator, 'players' coach,' and all that good stuff, but alas, one with a reputation for being notoriously indifferent to offense.
In my opinion, Mark Sanchez has looked better in losing games with the Philadelphia Eagles than he did in winning games with the New York Jets, in recent years.
Now, analysts and commentators refer to a 'collapse' of the Philadelphia Eagles. They say: Oh, the Eagles were 9-3 three weeks ago and on pace to win the division. Now they've lost three straight games, including to the Washington Redskins..... etc., etc.
After the loss to the Washington Redskins (27-24), I heard Deion Sanders on the NFL Network say something to the effect that Mark Sanchez "has proven he's just a back up."
Really? Where does that come from?
Mark Sanchez performed well in that game. The numbers say so. He completed 37 out of 50 pass attempts for 374 yards, two touchdown throws, and one interception. Just because the Eagles lost, why does that performance supposedly prove that Sanchez is "just a back up"?
Phillip Rivers, the quarterback for the San Diego Chargers recently played a game against the San Francisco 49ers, winning it by a field goal 38-35. Mr. Rivers threw three interceptions in that game. For some reason, though, this is not taken to be 'proof' that he's "just a back up."
No, Steve Mariucci of the NFL Network, called Rivers "a warrior" who didn't let the mistakes get him down and just kept "slingin' it." Rivers's persistence is admired. But, perhaps because Sanchez's 'hail Mary' pass he threw to try to win the game against Washington, didn't work out, he is, somehow, not a warrior?
Can you tell, dear reader, that I think there is something unfair about the way the media talks about Mark Sanchez?
Now then, let us take up the matter of this so-called "collapse." Let's take a look at the three losses that inspired the epitaph.
The Green Bay Packers at Green Bay (Lambeau Field)
This is one of the Eagles's losses since compiling the 9-3 record. My response to this is: Are you kidding me? Is losing to Green Bay with arguably the best quarterback in the business today and future first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, Aaron Rodgers, supposed to signal the beginning of some kind of "collapse"? The Green Bay Packers are one of the top four teams in the entire National Football League.
The Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia
To me, this is another game that the Philadelphia Eagles were virtually destined to lose. I don't care where they played the game---at Seattle, at Philadelphia, on the moon. And I don't care who was the quarterback for the Eagles---Sanchez, Nick Foles, whoever.
Do you realize that, in the Seattle Seahawks, we are witnessing The Most Special Defense in the National Football League in thirty-five years, since the 1970s, when the Pittsburgh Steelers won all of those Super Bowls---the team on which QB Terry Bradshaw virtually only had to show up physically to collect his rings? The Seattle Seahawks present to most overwhelmingly suffocating defense seen in the National Football League since the "Steel Curtain" days of the 1970s Steelers team. Is a loss to the Seahawks supposed to be indicative of a "collapse"? Remember what the Seahawks did to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (43-8) last Super Bowl?
Robert Griffin III and The Washington Redskins
The Eagles were widely expected to win this football game. I expected the Eagles to win this game, and win it handily. But guess what, folks---that's what "upsets" are made of in competitive sports. It turned out to be a tight, evenly contested game---it happens. Look at what happened with the Patriots v. Jets---(17-16).
The Jets are a bad football team this season and have been for the last several. Despite that, though, they traditionally play their New England divisional rivals tough; and it is well known that head coach Rex Ryan is particularly good at orchestrating defensive schemes that frustrate Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.
Now then, this Redskins game is considered to be the third game of the so-called Eagles's "collapse." Yes, the Eagles were upset by the Redskins, but that's all. We have no evidence of any "collapse" on the part of the Philadelphia Eagles. I already gave Mark Sanchez's stats.
Why was the outcome of this game an "upset"?
It is true that the Washington Redskins are in something of an organizational disarray, primarily at the quarterback position and this seems to be adversely effecting the quality of play of the rest of the team on the field.
It is true, also, that there is conflict between the new head coach and "RGIII," which we do not have to review here.
It is true that Robert Griffin III had been recently benched in favor of backup, Colt McCoy, who himself had to be taken out of play due to injury.
But here's the thing
There has never been a question of talent on the Washington Redskins squad. The starters are in the National Football League---and starters---for a reason. Man-for-man they have always been considered an elite collection of talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball. And Robert Griffin III, the former Heisman Trophy winner, showed flashes of his previous brilliance. Under those circumstances, that team can play with and beat anybody in the "any given Sunday" National Football League.
Oh yeah, the Eagles lost a game to the Dallas Cowboys (38-27)
The thing to say here is that these two teams split their series. The Eagles defeated the Cowboys, with Mark Sanchez at QB, by a commanding score of (33-10). Dallas got its revenge. I respond with a shrug of the shoulders and a 'That's the way it goes.'
But really, congratulations to the Dallas Cowboys (11-4), for winning the NFC East Divisional Title. They've had a long hard road, which we don't have to review here. Quarterback Tony Romo is another player whom I think the media tends to mistreat.
By the way, in the loss to Green Bay (53-20), Mark Sanchez threw for 346 yards, 2 touchdowns, and yes, 2 interceptions (I get it---interceptions bad!)
In the loss to Seattle (24-14), Mark Sanchez was stifled significantly---against this, the most special defense seen in the National Football League in thirty-five years---in completing 10 of 20 pass attempts. And yet, he still had two touchdown passes; and yes, 2 interceptions (I get it---interceptions bad!).
In the loss to the Dallas Cowboys (38-27), while it is true that Mark Sanchez did not have a touchdown throw, he still threw for a still quite respectable 252 yards. But, again, to put that in perspective, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos prevailed over the Buffalo Bills without Manning, unusually, having thrown a single touchdown pass himself.
But Peyton Manning and the guys won that game, while Sanchez and the Eagles did not; and so, once again, Mark Sanchez is not this and not that, not "a warrior" and all the rest of it.
It will take time for Mark Sanchez to live down the damage done to his reputation and career by his unfortunate time with the New York Jets as coached by Rex Ryan.
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