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What They’re Saying 2018 Special Edition, Best of the Best Volume I: The Oracles

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History Unfolding

Chicago Bears v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Welcome to a special edition of WTS, a collection of the best (and worst) comments, opinions, and predictions throughout the 2017 Super Bowl season.

Volume I, The Oracles, will act more as a historical time-line then a traditional WTS, dealing with many of the events and predictions leading up to the first game of the 2017 season. This includes players, coaches, analysts, and fans. Volume II, The Season, will highlight the comments and fluid game predictions throughout the actual season, and will more closely resemble a traditional WTS. I scoured through each of the game editions, as well as the following comment sections, to find the most appreciated sentiments, best banter, and top thread clips that have most likely gotten you in trouble for laughing inappropriately at work/school/awkward family holidays.

And yes, it’s the damn off-season. But it’s the greatest off-season we have ever experienced, so let’s bask in the glory of this past season, which included a Super Bowl trophy and year-long shit talking rights. Training camp begins soon, which is followed by pre-season games, and then a brand new season.

SOOOO....

How did we get here?

Where to start?

Visual depiction of the Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia

December 29th, 2015

The Philadelphia Eagles fire Chip Kelly

In under just three 3 full seasons as the Eagle’s head coach, Chip Kelly was stripped of his position as the official “Chip” of the NFL. Though the Chip Kelly era did produce 2 winning seasons, it also brought with it a lot of drama.

During his short tenure, the entire team was altered from the ground up, in what was described as an organizational and cultural overhaul. After securing god-like power within the front office, Kelly orchestrated several moves, for better or for worse, which included the seemingly Siberian sabbatical of GM Howie Roseman, Trading away LeSean McCoy, releasing DeSean Jackson, cutting team veterans like the Toddfather Herremans, and Trent Cole, and abolishing Taco Tuesdays. He allowed Maclin and Mathis to walk during FA, while bringing in Maxwell, Murray, and Bradford. The Eagles had transformed into a revolving door where no player felt safe, and in turn, nobody in the locker room cared to invest in the team or one another.

The Eagles seemed to be constantly mired in soap opera-like melodramas, like the Riley Cooper country concert fallout, Murray bitching to Lurie on a plane, players openly arguing on the field during losses, former players claiming Kelly was racist, constant locker room grumbling, the snubbing of future Eagles Hall of Fame RB Frank Gore, firing Carol the secretary (I actually didn’t know about this until about a month ago, but apparently, she was kind of a big deal), Peters removing himself from a game to avoid injury during a game that didn’t matter, the death stare between Murray and Bradford...

Sam Bradford...

And who doesn’t remember this Bradford hype video leading into the 2015 season?

Still gives me chills. And I’m not being facetious, this video legitimately brings me back to how I felt heading into that season. Completely optimistic.

Hopeful. The first WTS ever was born out of that preseason hype.

But we all know how that turned out, and by the end of the season, the other shoe had finally dropped, Kelly had apparently lost the locker room, and the organization had to start all over again.

Naturally, the fan base was conflicted, and at that point, probably as divided as the players were.

Chip Kelly Gets Fired

Good man.

Also, for those of you who were around enough to remember these fans, I for one am glad they’re gone...

With one game left in the season, Pat Shurmur was taking over as interim HC, and people were fed up with the “hurry up/3 & out” Chip Kelly offense and the Billy Davis under-performing 3-4 defense.

The locker room was in total disarray, and the Philadelphia fan base had been completely gutted of hope and optimism from the collapse of what had many had hoped would be a winning, revolutionary, and historic Eagles era. People were fed up, the front office looked like a complete failure, and the team was desperately searching both for answers and a new head coach who possessed “Emotional Intelligence”.

Negladelphism was wide spread.

Enter Doug Pederson.

January 18th, 2016

The Philadelphia Eagles officially hired Doug Pederson to be their 21st head coach on January 18th, 2016, after the Kansas City Chiefs were eliminated from the playoffs, but news of the hiring came several days before hand.

In a poll taken as part of a January 6th article profiling Pederson as a possible HC candidate, BGNers overwhelmingly voted no to the idea of bringing in Douggie P to fill the position.

There were several people the Eagles expressed interest in, accompanied by a multitude of theories regarding why or why not they would serve as the Bird’s next HC. And as with any Eagles related topic and surrounding rumor mill, fans were quick to offer their own take on the situation.

A new poll taken on January 14th after Pederson’s impending hire revealed a little more support, but still most BGNer’s did not approve.

This would be a good time revisit some analyst coach ranks which followed the hiring wave, such as NFL.com’s list, which ranked 7 head coaching hires, placing Pederson 5th behind Jackson, Kelly, Koetter, and, Gase, respectively.

That was the only national one I found that he wasn’t ranked last on. Bleacher Report ranked him 7th out of 7. USA Today’s FTW also had Pederson coming in 7th out of 7.

The ESPN article that came out ranked only 6 of the new NFL coaching positions, but Pederson predictably placed last.

That’s right, most of these analysts ranked him dead last, which in hindsight is pretty amusing when also including commentary and context (from the ESPN article):

1) Hue Jackson , Cleveland Browns

“His can-do personality and agreeable approach to public relations were needed in this proud but beaten-down market. Jackson immediately showed he gets it on day one by meeting with Browns employees in the lobby of their offices and promising them he would “chase greatness”.”

2017 record = 0-16

2) Chip Kelly, San Francisco 49ers

“Kelly’s record suggests he should be No. 1 on this list. He has three years of NFL head-coaching experience behind him, including two 10-6 seasons, and went 46-7 while tilting major college scoreboards at Oregon.”

2017 record = 0-0 (fired following a 2-14 2016 record)

3) Adam “Please Wear a Hat” Gase, Miami Dolphins

“A case could be made for Gase ranking ahead of Jackson and Kelly, but his youth (youngest head coach in the league at 37) and relative inexperience render him a bit more of a gamble.”

2017 record = 6-10

4) Dirk Koetter, Tamp Bay Buccs

“He gets the nod at No. 4 over McAdoo primarily based on experience.”

2017 record = 5-11

5) Ben McAdoo, New York Giants

“Mara thinks he might have another Mike Tomlin on his hands, another coach who comes out of nowhere to do great things, and it’s fitting that he brought up the Pittsburgh Steelers. You don’t need Rooney Mara to tell you that Pittsburgh -- a franchise forever looking for reasons to keep people rather than for reasons to fire them -- is the franchise the Giants admire most.”

2017 record = 3-13 (fired after the week 13 loss to the Raiders, record at the time was 2-10)

6) Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles

“Maybe Pederson has the “emotional intelligence” that owner Jeffrey Lurie is looking for and that Chip Kelly allegedly lacked, and maybe not. But after Coughlin pulled out of the chase and McAdoo canceled his second interview, Lurie didn’t have much to choose from and figured Pederson might bring a little Andy Reid football back to the Linc. It feels like a reach.”

2017 record = 13-3, + Division Champion, + Conference Champion, + Super Bowl Champion

Well done ESPN.

Yes, a reach... reaching for the Lombardi Trophy. Speaking of Lombardi...

Almost reminds me of the now famous shit take provided by Mike Lombardi, (no relation to Vince), for The Ringer on September 3rd, 2017:

“Everybody knows Pederson isn’t a head coach. He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I’ve seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL.”

Lombardi doubled down when discussing Pederson in a WIP radio interview on November 3rd, stating:

“I think he’s exceeded my expectations, I’m not going to back away from what I’ve said, but I also agree they’re 7-1. I’m not going to run away from this.”

It took an Eagles January 13th Divisional playoff victory over the Falcons for Lombardi to offer his first half-assed apology in stating:

“I admit, I’m wrong. Okay, Doug Pederson was way better than I thought he was going to be in terms of his ability to lead that team... hey look, I think I was wrong in terms of how far I went with Doug, I’m not sure how great of a coach Doug is, but I was wrong in terms of how far I went with it.”

Once the Eagles arrived in the post season, Douggie P definitely deserved more than that soft and questionable apology, a sentiment echoed by right tackle Lane Johnson shortly afterwards:

“I think the statements made by Lombardi earlier in the season, (Pederson) is never going to say it pissed him off, but I think it did and I think it’s an insult. For a guy to talk shit like that and not have a clue what he is about. It is what it is. He’ll eat his words.”

And all it took was the January 21st Conference Championship beatdown of the Vikings for him to do just that.

During Doug’s first year as the Eagles head coach, as well as the organizational power restoration of Howie Roseman, the Birds sought to undue much of the damage incurred during the great Chipocalypse. This started with a number of strategic moves aimed at re-establishing security to an unstable locker room. They began signing core players to long term contracts, sending a message that players who work hard and perform well will get rewarded. It also meant that players could feel secure in both each other and the team. They reopened the avenue of communication between the coaching staff and the players that had been closed, and they began to establish a culture that embodied what Lurie had felt was missing with the Kelly regime; “Emotional Intelligence”.

They then began to rework the roster by trading some of the players (and contracts) that were acquired during that period such as Murray, Maxwell, and Kiko Alonso, which helped set up one of the largest moments for the newly revamped Eagles and their freshman head coach.

April 28th, 2016

The Eagles draft their franchise QB

With the 2nd pick in the 2016 draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Carson Wentz, a QB out of North Dakota State. This was the first time the Eagles had selected a QB in the first round of the draft since since 1999, when another relatively unproven 1st year Eagles head coach selected Donovan McNabb with the 2nd pick. Rookie HC Andy Reid had previously been a QB coach under Mike Holmgren in Green Bay, and brought with him the veteran back-up QB who had acted as a mentor to 3xMVP/All-Pro Brett Favre. That veteran QB, Doug Pederson, started behind center for the majority of Reid’s first season in Philly, with Reid not starting his rookie QB until week 10 against Washington.

The Eagles finished the 1999 season at 5-11, and Pederson was cut the following offseason. In his sophomore season, they went 11-5 and reached the NFC Championship Game, propelling the Eagles into almost a decade of contention. Many can still remember the booing of Donovan McNabb’s draft selection, mostly from a small but loud section of the fan base who were clamoring for Ricky Williams. Williams would be eventually drafted 5th by the New Orleans Saints after then head coach Mike Ditka traded all of their 1999 draft picks and both the 1st and 3rd round picks from the following year to Washington in order to move up. Ditka was fired at the end of the 1999 season, and Ricky Williams played just 3 seasons with the Saints before being traded to Miami.

Coming into Philadelphia, Pederson brought veteran back-up QB Chase Daniel with him, a move which was thought was to solidify the QB position in light of the oft-injured Sam Bradford. However, he followed in the footsteps of his coaching mentor, and instead selected a QB with the 2nd pick of the first round.

Leading up to the 2016 draft, fans worried about what some considered a weak QB class. The Rams had traded up for the 1st pick, and while the Eagles were also expected to draft a QB, they had just recently signed both Bradford (2yr-36M) and aforementioned Daniel (3yr-21M) to relatively large contracts the previous month. There was a growing narrative about scrambling FO making rash decisions which had began with the head coach search and hiring process.

Contrary to both the Eagles FO and NFL rules, most felt as though the official target was Wentz. I personally don’t believe that they would’ve moved up to the 2nd position if they didn’t already know who the Rams were taking with the 1st, and I was never really a Goff fan. Regardless, there was still the lingering question about who the team would actually draft, especially since the first round picks of the last 2 drafts had produced Marcus Smith II and Nelson Agholor (who at the time, looked like a bust as well).

The Pick is in

The Birds did select Wentz with the number 2 pick, and most BGNer’s were pleased.

Carson Wentz didn’t receive the same level of draft day criticism that was thrown at McNabb, some of which can be attributed to an evolved NFL culture which no longer put a premium on spending a high, 1st round draft pick on the running back position (Cowboys and Giants excluded).

And that is exactly what happened. The Eagles would go on to a 7-9 record during Pederson and Wentz’s rookie seasons, and to complete the circle of life, Pederson released Chase Daniel the following off-season. That offseason they supplimented their already talented roster with several key players. Players such as WR Alshon Jeffery, who on January 1st, 2017, made a curious statement to reporters after dropping the final game of a 3-13 Bears season. “I guarantee you we’ll win the Super Bowl next year”, It was common knowledge at that point that Jeffery was heading into free agency, and the following November, he doubled down on his prediction by simply stating “I never said what team”.

2017 Season

I’m sure no one has forgotten the ridicule Doug Pederson endured last July after comparing his current Eagles squad to the Super Bowl winning Packers team he was a part of in 2006. Some of the comments on the NFL.com article which reported his comparison are indeed cringe worthy.

That last one is classic Negladelphia. Pretty sure Charlie Pi now claims that he always knew Pederson was a diamond in the rough.

Alshon and Pederson weren’t the only players who came out pre-season with statements regarding how special the team was. Lane Johnson’s August 23rd, 2017 article in The Player’s Tribune is a pretty good summary of what the team had been trying to say, even though few at that time were really listening. If you haven’t had a chance to read the entire article, it’s definitely worth it. But to shorten why I’m even including it, I’ll leave you with the final paragraph:

Let me tell you what’s going to happen in a couple of weeks: This team is going to go down to D.C. and whup some ass against the Redskins. We’re going to surprise some people.

That’s where the momentum is going to begin, and then the hype train is just going to get bigger as the league realizes that the Eagles are back. The NFC East is the toughest division in all of football and it’s going to get even tougher this season because nobody is going to want to face us. I’m not saying this just to blow smoke, I’m telling you guys this is how it’s going to go down.

So Philly, here’s what we’re gonna need from you: Fly with us and just be you. Come out to the games, drink some beers and raise some hell. Make this a place where our team loves to play and everybody else hates — especially Cowboys fans. ~ Lane Johnson, Player Tribune, 8/23/17

Sounds pretty damn accurate. Now, we’ve had some freaky accurate predictions like the resurfaced tweets included below, but for the most part, people threw shit at a wall. And like usual, sometimes it stuck, and sometimes it just turned into a flaming pile of steamtake.

No article mocking or celebrating predictions would be complete without at least including some tidbits from our NFCE counterparts, some of who, to their credit, were acutely aware of their shortcomings.

When looking at the Giants preseason 2017 season predictions, BBV member DrFunky hit the nail on the head in almost every prediction for the exception of the teams on their schedule they would actually beat in order to secure that pristine 3-13 record. Keep in mind most people had the Giants as the favorite to win the division.

Kudos to you, DrFunky.

The Skins preseason 2017 season predictions were also fairly rational, with several members calling out the correct season record.

HH member hannibaleatery actually went so far as to pick the Birds to win the division, getting a little back up from James Dorsett. Skinsfansincebirth displayed the typical hindsight one would expect from someone named “Skinsfansincebirth”.

And Dallas? Well, we all pretty much know what to expect from the Cowboys fan base...

To Aggie man’s credit, the Cowboys did not rest their starters in weeks 17.

However, BtB member TLG1970 was at least able to recognize what was actually happening by late October, thanks to the trade Howie pulled off for Jay Ajayi:

At some point during the regular season last year, BtB posted a series of ridiculous NFCE positional ranking articles, where they naturally dominated almost every category based on an arbitrary point system they pulled out of their ass. Most of these were generously shared in KingKong4’s Revisiting Blogging the Boy’s” article from July 8th.

A quick summary of that article revealed their assessments of the WB, TE, OL, and QB positions, which had Dak leading the pack with 4 BtB ass points, and Wentz dead last with only 1.

On QB’s:

In quarterback-centric division, Carson Wentz ranks the least best quarterback.

While Eli Manning has owned the division for a number of years, it appears that Dak Prescott has officially taken over as the best quarterback in the division. Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz will be the third- and fourth-best quarterbacks for the forseeable future in the NFC East.

Actual QB ratings for 2017:

  1. Wentz (PHI): 101.9
  2. Cousins (WAS): 93.9
  3. Studfeld: (PHI): 90.9
  4. Prescott (DAL): 86.6
  5. Manning (NYG): 80.4

So close Dallas.

I included Studfeld to add extra emphasis to “Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz will be the third- and fourth-best quarterbacks for the forseeable future in the NFC East” take. Also, because “foreseeable” was spelled wrong. So so wrong. Cousins was obviously replaced by Alex Smith after the season, who’s QB rating was 104.7. Extra spicy.

The same BtB author also put out another interesting piece on 9/1/17 which discussed how ESPN was ABSOLUTELY wrong for predicting the Cowboys would go 9-7 that season. I’m a fan.

As far as BGN’s April 2017 predictions, BLG predicted a 9-7 record to end the season. Some of our own April predictions were hopeful, and finally looked good being so, others, not so much. At this time, we still hadn’t addressed many of the secondary needs that would’ve been required to push us over the top, but the predictions from September are a better reflection of our thoughts on the finalized squad for 2017.

April Good

April Not so Good

September Really Good

After their first week victory over the Skins, a team who had swept them the previous 2 seasons, Eagles players showered Pederson in Gatorade.

While a couple of analysts (and fans) mocked the move, it was a show of both solidarity and faith the team and coaches had in one another, which could only be appreciated when you really look at what the team and organization had been through leading up to that point, and even more so when you see what they were able to accomplish. A Gatorade bath after a week 1 victory simply served as another oracle level foreshadowing, an appropriate precursor for the season ahead.

Stay tuned for VII, The Season, which will cover the best of the best WTS comments from all of the season’s editions.

TL/DR:

We won the Super Bowl.