When the Phillies won the World Series, the Eagles may have believed they’d get a break. Now that the city had its first championship in 100 seasons, the Birds may have concluded Philly fans would ease up on the criticism.
But if they thought that, they didn’t understand Philadelphia.
Things are now significantly tougher for Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb in Philly. And if they don’t get a grasp on this new environment quickly, they may both be gone sooner than they expect.
Now that the City of Brotherly Love has had a taste of glory, it’s addicted. It’s not willing to wait around for a mediocre team to try to mediocre its way into the playoffs.
Which is exactly what the post-T.O. Eagles have tried to do year after year.
Philly was never OK with the “Gold Standard” plan of Jeffrey Lurie, Joe Banner, and Reid. The “Thrifty Threesome” (trademark Russakoff Rules Inc.) always felt that they could stay away from the big risk and remain above-average, and one of these years things would break their way.
That “make-sure-you’re-good-but-don’t-dare-to-be-great” philosophy never sat well with Philadelphians. But we bought into it anyway.
We were desperate. We wanted a championship. We needed a championship.
So Philly put up with the underwhelming player moves, the maddening timeouts, and the frustrating play-calling, because the Birds gave the city its best hope at a ring…or so we thought.
But then the ColeTrain (trademark Russakoff Rules) beat Reidonomics to the punch, and everything changed.
Hamels and the Phillies showed the city what a winner looks like…what a winner feels like. They showed the town how winners talk and act off the field and how they play on it. And now, when the Phaithful watch the Eagles, we can’t help but notice the stark contrast between our world-bleeping-champion Phillies and our last-place Eagles.
Philly is done waiting around for Andy and Donovan. Especially, when things are steadily getting worse.
Together, Reid and Donovan have been at this for 10 years. So why does it feel like every two-minute drill is still their first? Why does it seem like they are still making it up as they go along on every third-and-short? Why, when they need a big play in close games, do they always go with the most predictable one in their 227,856-page playbook?
Ray Didinger (a.k.a. Ray Diddy, a.k.a. Nauga, a.k.a. The Professor, a.k.a. R. Dadunkadunk) cited some incredible stats on Comcast Sportsnet’s after Sunday night’s game:
Since the Eagles loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Andy Reid’s teams are 7-19 in close games (those decided by less than six points).
Think that’s bad? The Eagles are 1-10 in their last 11 close games.
That’s staggeringly pathetic. But not surprising considering the Eagles’ biggest struggles over the past few years. The Birds have been terrible in the red zone, terrible in short yardage situations, and terrible with clock management. It’s tough to win tight games when you’re 0-for-3 in those categories.
And the blame for all three shortcomings has to fall squarely on the shoulders of the team’s decision-makers: Reid and McNabb.
Reid is this team’s “Executive VP of Football Operations.” Which means he is the de facto GM. He chooses the players (sorry, Tom Heckert), he calls the plays (well, he and Marty Mornhinweg), and he makes the decisions on challenges/timeouts.
What Reid controls from the sidelines, Donovan controls on the field. McNabb is responsible for executing the plays, for audibling, for spiking the ball in the right spot, and for not letting valuable time run off the clock at the end of games.
Whenever the game has been on the line, both Reid and McNabb have grossly underperformed in these areas. Whenever a clutch spot comes up in a game, both invariably clam up.
Compare the Eagles’ close-game futility with the Phillies’ 89-0 record taking a lead into the ninth…or Brad Lidge’s perfect 48-for-48 in save attempts.
In both baseball and football, when games come down to the end, when a play or two separates victory from defeat, playmakers make plays. Champions make plays.
Whenever the Phillies got into a tight spot in ’08, there were players up and down the lineup that knew they were going to win the game for them.
The citizens of Philadelphia saw that. And we’re looking for the same winning players on this Eagles roster.
Where are the players on the Eagles that demand the ball? Where is the front office guy that’s willing to put his neck on the line? Where is the coach who will make a gutsy non-generic, unpredictable call with the game in the balance?
The Eagles don’t have players like that. They don’t have executives like that. They don’t have coaches like that.
And now that the Phillies have shown this town what a champion looks like, the reason the Eagles can’t get over the hump has become painstakingly obvious:
There aren’t enough winners on this team. And it’s real tough to win without winners.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/leerussakoff.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.