In no way are the 2017 and 2014 Eagles the same. The latter was coached by someone who’s predictable and polarizing, while the former is led by a likable guy who adjusts. The latter’s quarterback was Mark Sanchez filling in for an injured Nick Foles. The former sports a franchise player in Carson Wentz.
They’re two completely different teams and the current one is more talented with actual chemistry and balance.
But, remember three seasons ago?
The Birds were riding high after a 33-10 Thanksgiving gobbling of the Dallas Cowboys for a 9-3 record. With four games left in December, it seemed like the Eagles were well on their way to another division crown and possibly even a first-round bye.
However, that Thursday afternoon feast in 2014 turned the Birds into legitimate turkeys.
They reeled off three losses in a row. The Seahawks beat them at The Linc, 24-14. The Cowboys invaded South Philadelphia and got their revenge, 38-27. Then, on a Saturday night in Landover, Maryland, Sanchez was a turnover machine, leading to a 37-24 Redskins victory, essentially ending the Eagles season.
In the blink of an eye, boom, it was over. Thus began the downslide of the Kelly era.
By no means will the same happen this time around, but three years ago proved that the men separate themselves from the boys in December. Wentz said something very similar at his weekly press conference the other day.
Will “The Other Shoe” drop for the 10-1 Eagles in this insanely important month coming up?
Not to the extent it did in 2014, but if it does, it will be in the next two weeks.
Even though Seattle isn’t the team they used to be and they’re clearly beatable at CenturyLink Field this season, there’s something about that venue, Russell Wilson and the fact the Birds are due for a loss. It leaves Sunday very questionable and it’s some of the reasons why you shouldn’t take the injury riddled 7-4 Seahawks for granted. They’re currently on the outside of the postseason picture looking in. They’re a desperate veteran team, which still poses a Top 10 offense and defense. It wouldn’t shock me if the Birds lose Sunday night. In fact, I believe they will, 24-23. More on why in the predictions post this weekend.
The key is at least splitting the next two weeks against Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams, which guarantees the Eagles will remain one of two top NFC seeds heading to Week 15. Losing both games could very well put them in the Wild Card round, which will mean two potential road games to get to the Super Bowl. Those road games could be in Minnesota or New Orleans, which are difficult places to play.
This season has been unexpectedly amazing for Eagles fans and the goal should no question be a Lombardi Trophy. The mindset should be Super Bowl or bust.
The next five games, specifically the next two, will determine whether that accolade is realistic or not.
Before I forget…
• You’re witnessing a different Flyers mentality from the one you’re used to. It’s one of methodical patience, much different from the unwritten standard that playoffs were a must. General Manager Ron Hextall boasted that very claim after his team lost its ninth game in a row Tuesday in front of a frustrated Wells Fargo Center crowd. After the game, Hexy said the the team isn’t playing poorly. A day later, he told Michael Barkann of NBC Sports Philadelphia, that head coach Dave Hakstol is still his guy. It’s hard to argue the Flyers don’t possess talent because players like Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds were competitive in year’s past. Maybe this mix of vets and youth isn’t working? Maybe Hakstol isn’t the right guy to lead them anymore? Maybe Hextall isn’t as good a talent evaluator as Philadelphia hoped? Whatever the problem is, Flyers fans deserve better than this.
• The 76ers held off the Washington Wizards Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center 118-113, despite allowing a double digit lead to shrink to three. The reason for that was Scott Brooks called for “Hack-A-Ben.” The Wizards intentionally fouled Ben Simmons on 12 consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter to exploit his foul shooting weakness. The rookie went 12-24 in that span, 15-29 in the game. Despite the tactic clearly working and being 100 percent legal before the final two minutes, it ruined the game. It was like a sub-happy base manager making several pitching changes in the latter innings of a lopsided blowout. It was like a NFL referee throwing ticky-tac flags, making a football game unwatchable. What made Wednesday hilarious was NBA commissioner Adam Silver was in the building. Hopefully he saw how unwatchable the game became and does something about it in the off-season.
• New Phillies manager Gabe Kapler’s mindset is refreshing. The man clearly wants to win in 2018, not a few years down the line. Hopefully management shares the same goal and improves the pitching staff for him, while not holding back young players such as Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford from playing close to full major league seasons.