I'll admit that last night I was in a foul mood. A last second loss in that kind of game will do that to you. In addition to just flat out being pissed off, I was dreading the week ahead that I knew was going to be terrible. A week full of ESPN replays of the game, the talking heads on TV & radio...
"It's just going to be awful" I thought.
Then, I came to a realization that gave me some peace. When I was trying to assign blame for this loss I struggled to really find one guy/unit/injury to blame it on.
McNabb? He was inaccurate at times but I didn't think he was particularly bad, 21-34 226 yds and a TD. Not a scintillating performance, but not terrible either.
The defense? Until that last minute, they had played a fantastic game. This unit has still only surrendered 2 TDs in the past 3 games. They aren't playing bad by any stretch.
Mistakes? Nope. No turnovers in this game and 5 penalties for 32. Plus, one of the penalties(the Will James hold) was completely bogus. You'd like less penalties, but 5 isn't a killer.
Special teams? Nah. They kept the ball away from Hester like they wanted to and Sav Rocca placed a brilliant kick on the 3 in his biggest kick of the game. Akers hit every FG he lined up for. Sure, our return game did absolutely nothing as usual but it didn't hurt us either.
Playcalling? I hated the prevent defense at the end and I didn't like some play calls on the last offensive drive... but overall I wasn't screaming at the TV about the play calling like I have some times.
Injuries? I don't think so. I'd put the Giants loss on injuries, but not this one. Quintin Mikell played fine in place of Dawkins and LJ Smith has barely played all year. Plus, it's not as if Schoebel didn't get himself open in the end zone...
After weighing all this in my head and not really being able to assign blame to any one thing I had an epiphany that frankly made me feel better...
We just aren't that good. This team just isn't that good.
I don't think this a team that's underachieving, I don't think they've had bad luck, I don't think injuries have killed them(ala 2005)... I just think they aren't good enough to compete. The Eagles, by not really stepping into the free agent market, trading down in the draft, and taking a long term project with their top pick signaled to us fans that they thought they were already good enough to compete. The reason this season has been so frustrating is because I bought that. I was wrong, so were the Eagles. This team isn't a disappointment, it's just plain not that good.
So, armed with this new outlook I feel a bit different about the season going forward. It's about looking at the future of this squad. Watching the continued growth of our young linebackers and defensive lineman. Can guys that once looked very promising get themselves on track? Reggie Brown, I'm looking at you. Can the young guys who've yet to make an impact show what they can do(Abiamiri, Baskett, Avant, Bradley)? Finally, can we get the old McNabb back by year's end or can we see Kolb? If McNabb gets more and more healthy and is looking back in form by the end of the year, then I'll be happy. Going into next year this team will have a good amount of cap space to spend in free agency and probably a good draft pick. This is a year for every guy on this team to stake his place on this roster going forward. Those guys who don't need to be replaced with proven guys in the offseason. This is the year the youth of this team get to grow up and the veterans like Kearse, Howard, Thomas, Runyan, McNabb ect get to show whether they can still play.
To me that's what this year is about. It's not about playoffs or the division. Maybe it never should have been, but either way we can be sure it no longer is. Don't get me wrong, I still want this team to win every game and I'm still going to be pissed when they lose... I haven't lost my passion, it's just that my expectations have changed.
So what do you Eagles fans think? I'd like everyone to chime in on this subject. If you don't have an account here at BGN, by all means please sign up for one and join the discussion. It's totally free to sign up and the only reason we make you register is to keep out the spammers. I'd love to check the pulse of the rest of the fans. Do you disagree with me? Is the team good enough to win the division or make the playoffs and just not living up to their potential? Let me know. I think this is the major question facing this team going forward.