Once a losing culture begins, it's a hard thing to stop.
It begins in the locker room, it extends to the fans, and soon a franchise that was used to winning, all of the sudden is stuck in a black hole of losing that is hard to get out of. Losing becomes expected and accepted.
The Eagles are not there yet, but watching them on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, they are getting close.
Talking to the Eagles players after their loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, the passion and anger you would expect to be there after an embarrassing lose to their rivals was absent. Were they upset? They said they were. But watching them play on the field, they didn't show it. The effort was there, but it would have been nice to see some fight from this team as things unraveled. Instead, the sideline was motionless as their season all but came to an end.
The painful truth is that unlike the players who came up and won consistently under Andy Reid- the Donovan McNabbs, the Brain Westbrooks, the Ike Reeses- this locker room is filled with players who have not won in their career. With football being a team game, clearly individual players outside of the quarterback cannot be held accountable for the losing. But the majority of the players on this Eagles roster have not experienced winning in the NFL, and that is a dangerous thing.
Key acquisitions this team has made- players like Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Demeco Ryans- they have never been on winning teams. In the combined 26 seasons Babin, Asomugha and Ryans have been in the NFL, they have been a part of 4 winning seasons. Asomugha has never been on a winning team. They have played in a combined 4 playoff games in their career, and have made the playoffs only 2 times amongst the three. These are key players on the Eagles who have always been on losing teams.
Yes, Ryans has been one of the best players on the Eagles this season and is clearly not part of the reason they have been losing. Yes, Asomugha was on some horrible Oakland teams and is a cornerback- so to blame him for the losing doesn't make sense. But that isn't the point.
The point is that unlike the locker room that was here when the Eagles were winning under Andy Reid, this locker room doesn't know what it is like to win. They are 11-14 as a group in the past 25 games. They are a losing team that has shown over the past 25 games, they don't know how to make the plays to win games. Very few of them ever look disgusted or genuinely upset. They are used to losing. Is this Eagles team a team or locker room you would want rookies coming up in?
There is a reason why Cullen Jenkins- who won the Super Bowl with Green Bay- is always the player who steps up and talks to the media, doesn't make excuses, and has hates the talk about how good this team should be. He knows what it is like to be on a winning team. The majority of the rest of the locker room does not.
Maybe that is why they keep saying they can turn it around. Or why LeSean McCoy said after the game that the team should "dominate." Maybe it is why the moment something goes bad for this team, they buckle and can't stop it. Fans always say that with this team, it is like they are waiting for something bad to happen. Maybe the players feel the same way, because the majority of the players on the roster have always had it happen to them throughout their career.
Make no mistake about it- these next few months are going to go a long way in dictating which direction this franchise goes. Even the biggest Andy Reid supporter knows that it is time to move on. When that point comes, Jeffrey Lurie will make a series of decisions that will determine if the Eagles remain one of the top orgainzations in football, or if they start to sink back down to the bottom. The decisions he makes will determine if the losing continues.
This team loses for a lot of reasons. Injuries play a part, coaching plays a part, and mental mistakes do as well. King Dunlap starting doesn't help either. Winning is the ultimate deodorant, and if this group of players can somehow turn it around, the culture will change.
This Eagles roster has some talented players and with a fresh start and a new culture, they could get back to winning soon.
Which would be something new for these players.
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks