Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson was possibly onto something when he chirped about the New England Patriots only days following beating them in the Super Bowl.
Johnson said on the Pardon My Take podcast the “‘Patriot-Way’ is a fear-based organization,” people don’t enjoy playing there and he’d rather win one with fun than five being miserable.
When the right tackle initially made that comment, it seemed absolutely ridiculous. A decade or so ago, it would be even more silly. Now, things may change for New England free agency wise as the off-season goes on, but in the opening hours of the new league year, Johnson appears correct.
Full disclosure, he’ll always be wrong about wanting to win one with fun than five with a frown, but his bold remark could very well possess legitimacy.
Johnson and Zach Ertz reportedly agreed to restructure their contracts so the Eagles could free up much needed cap space. As a result, Howie Roseman was able to retain linebacker Nigel Bradham and trade for Michael Bennett. He brought in Haloti Ngata to replace Beau Allen. There are other potential moves Roseman can make with cap freedom.
An outsider can assume that Roseman’s cap magic is being aided by the appearance of guys wanting to be on the Birds and maximize their chance to repeat, even if it means restructuring the way they receive their income.
At the same time, New England is losing offensive lineman Nate Solder to the rebuilding Giants, Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis to the Titans and apparently Danny Amendola to division foe Miami. Meantime, Rex Burkhead is the biggest name the Patriots retained as of Thursday afternoon.
Again, things can change, but maybe times are different as well.
Maybe the ESPN bombshell about Patriot dysfunction is frightening people.
Maybe the “Patriot Way” isn’t that attractive to play for anymore.
There are no electric slides, MLB superstars sitting in the front row or home stadiums on the West Coast.
Is it that attractive to play for a head coach who benches a starter in the biggest game of the year for reasons still unknown?
Tom Brady may be “The G.O.A.T.,” however he’s 40.
Times may be changing in the NFL and it appears to be boding very well for fun teams like the Eagles.
The Mystery of Nick Foles
Sam Bradford is injury-prone, an underachieving first overall pick and without a postseason snap since entering the NFL in 2010. “Sammy Sleeves” earnings are a little over $134 million thanks to the money he’ll make from the Arizona Cardinals.
Case Keenum wasn’t even that competitive in the Vikings’ NFC Championship loss to the Eagles, yet John Elway is bringing him in instead of giving up a hefty price for Super Bowl MVP and 27 touchdown, two interception Nick Foles.
Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater are Jets, A.J. McCarron is a Bill and the Vikings will be dishing out the dough for Kirk Cousins.
At least a first and fourth-round pick for Foles was too hefty a price for quarterback needy teams.
Foles is proven while McCarron isn’t. Cousins hasn’t won like Foles, who obviously experienced much success with new Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. McCown is more a journey than Foles ever will be. There are major question marks about Bridgewater. Keenum needs to prove himself another year. Bradford is basically a bust.
Does the NFL still doubt Foles? Maybe the Eagles overvalued the Super Bowl MVP. I’d argue the greatest insurance in football is worth more than a first and fourth-round pick.
Either way, these developments are great for the Eagles because of Carson Wentz’s susceptibility for injury and his uncertain rehab timeline.
The Birds didn’t need to make a tough decision with Foles. The NFL did it for them.
Before I forget…
• How beloved will the Eagles’ Super Bowl team be for years to come? Contributing backups Patrick Robinson and Beau Allen are receiving tributes on social media as they sign contracts elsewhere. Statistically lacking Torrey Smith was fondly thought of for everything else he did, which was great. Departing legend Brent Celek received one of the best standing ovations ever at the Sixers-Pacers game. Obviously, any champion is beloved, but I’d argue the 2017-18 Birds are universally the most popular of the most recent champs. The 2008 Phillies sported Adam Eaton and Jayson Werth. Who can you possibly dislike on the Super Bowl Champion Eagles?
• Speaking of the Phillies, kudos to them for making the necessary signing of Jake Arrieta. There’s an actual buzz about the team now, which failed to really exist at the start of spring training. You can legitimately consider the Phils capable of competing for the Wild Card. More importantly, Arrieta’s experience will serve well on and off the field. He’ll be able to teach the young potentials how to operate. Arrieta makes the Phillies a worthy headline again, reminiscent to when they signed Jim Thome prior to the 2003 season. Credit to Matt Klentak and John Middleton for making it happen. April can’t come soon enough.
• The 76ers are a conveyor belt of turnovers. They keep pumping them out, almost methodically, as was evident in their three-point loss to Indiana at home Tuesday, a game the Sixers committed 21 turnovers which resulted in almost 30 points. Even in the middle of March, this young, promising roster is making self inflicted, sometimes even elementary mistakes. From an outsider’s prediction, if the turnover problem persists into the playoffs and is the main reason for them not advancing to the second round, it’s wouldn’t be shocking if Brett Brown wasn’t retained. That shouldn’t be the case. Brown deserves more than one season to coach a legitimate roster. However, turnovers are literally what is separating this team from being the third seed in the Eastern Conference right now. That’s why this is a significant problem. Squeak by wins over the lowly Knicks cover up for this team’s deficiency against quality squads.
• Did the Flyers peak with their six-game winning streak and surge into the Metropolitan’s top three? It’s definitely possible considering they collected only three of a possible 16 points in their previous eight games. Petr Mrazek most certainly isn’t a sure thing in net and even worse, Dave Hakstol admitted the Flyers weren’t as ready to play as Columbus Thursday, which is alarming since a playoff spot isn’t a lock any more for the Orange and Black. If for some reason the Flyers miss the playoffs, I can’t imagine this town will let general manager Ron Hextall get away without firing someone.