Buckle in, it’s time to get on the thriller ride you and every other Philadelphia sports fan were waiting for.
No more patience, prospects or process. The pieces are here, now it’s time to put together the puzzle of a beautiful and championship filled future.
The Eagles exhilarating and unexpected (at least for me) 28-23 victory at the Carolina Panthers to improve to 5-1 was the final indication I needed to believe the Birds are better than a 10 win team that can squeak out a division championship but lose in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
Carson Wentz is showing signs that he could be a stud very close to Aaron Rodgers-esque. Doug Pederson is finally making sound coaching decisions and acting like he belongs. Jim Schwartz’s defense is playing with a tenacity that this city loves, making plays and forcing turnovers. Add in a future pro bowl tight end in Zach Ertz, a running game and two injured corners that should be the next Lito Sheppard/Sheldon Brown or Troy Vincent/Bobby Taylor, it’s time to say “Hello multiple NFC Championship appearances, and this time let’s actually go to more than one Super Bowl.”
Meanwhile, across 11th Street, Wells Fargo Center houses the man who prefers to call himself “The Process.” In his preseason debut, Joel Embiid sent out a friendly reminder that his talents are extraordinary. Embiid’s first game in nearly 10 months, the 7’2” phenom scored 22 points with 7 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action, while going 14 of 18 from the foul line.
It was a perfect example to prove why the 76ers were left with no choice but to extend Embiid before the October 16th deadline and prevent him from becoming a restricted free agent.
Some argue Embiid needs to prove he can stay healthy, and if he does, the Sixers can match any offer another team makes due to the restricted status of his free agency. But, why take the risk of a team closer to a championship offering a more lucrative contract than what the 76ers are willing to dish out? Why allow Embiid to flirt with others, possibly find interest, become offended by the Sixers for allowing this to happen, then without question bolt for free agency when he’s unrestricted, that’s if the Sixers would match?
Why go into a season with the constant distraction of whether or not this potential superstar stays or goes? Is the noise good for a young team trying to gel and make the playoffs? Absolutely not.
Embiid is the real deal and then some. Barring further injury, Philadelphia has a super star for the next decade plus.
And finally, let’s jump over Pattison Avenue to beautiful, currently vacant, soon to be refurbished (for some unforeseen reason) Citizens Bank Park. There’s a 24-year-old slugger from Sacramento in that clubhouse that can be better than Ryan Howard.
Yup, I wrote it. Rhys Hoskins has the potential to be more productive than Howard in his career. Hoskins provides just as much pop, lays off the breaking ball and sports a better glove. Add in likely five tool player Nick Williams, promising infielder J.P. Crawford, outfielders Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera, Scott Kingery, Aaron Nola and hopefully more talent to come, baseball will be back in Philadelphia.
As far as the Flyers, it all depends on their leadership and attitude. Their four game western conference road trip proved they can be competitive and put the puck in the net. Can their head coach and captain lead them? We’ll find out soon enough.
Either way, the agony of Philadelphia sports is over. These teams are worth your time again. Who knows? Maybe this town can start to sniff the success of Boston.
With Wentz, Embiid and Hoskins, it’s worth hoping.