Honestly, it was a huge relief to not have to watch the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles this weekend. Much more enjoyable to see some actually good teams duke it out in the playoffs instead.
But since I’m a sicko who can’t stop thinking about the Birds, here’s an Eagles slant to some Super Wild Card Weekend takeaways.
1 - Doug Pederson vs. Frank Reich
Look, I like Reich. I think he’s a good coach! But this idea that he deserves literally all of the credit for the Eagles’ Super Bowl success and Pederson was just some stooge is misguided.
Funny enough, Pederson and Reich are both now 1-2 in the playoffs since winning a championship together. So, let’s maybe calm down on Reich being the greatest head coach ever.
2 - Carson Wentz to the Colts?
Reich says he wants to run it back with Philip Rivers but it remains to be seen if that’ll truly happen. For what it’s worth, Terry Bradshaw said he’s hearing that Rivers wants to keep playing but he doesn’t think Rivers will be back in Indy.
Rivers, who turns 40 next season, is going to need offseason surgery on his toe. The Colts might very well be a playoff team with him again in 2021 but do they really have a Super Bowl ceiling?
If Indy’s looking for a long-term option, they might just come calling about Wentz. If/when the Eagles move on from Pederson, I don’t think they’ll also be getting rid of Wentz. But that doesn’t mean the Colts won’t still call about No. 11’s availability.
3 - Carson Wentz can learn from Josh Allen
Allen had major accuracy issues during his first two NFL seasons; he completed just 56.3% of his attempts in that span.
Allen’s accuracy has majorly improved in Year 3. He finished the regular season with a 69.2% completion rate and completed 74% of his attempts against Indy on Saturday. His touchdown throw to Stefon Diggs was a thing of beauty. Ball was right on the money:
So, what was behind Allen’s improvement?
It didn’t happen by accident. This paragraph from Peter King in September tells the story. Allen dedicated himself to improving and was coachable. Not every flawed QB does the same. pic.twitter.com/2Qs8ZHjetL— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) December 19, 2020
One can only hope Wentz is humbled by how the 2020 season went for him and he realizes he needs to be more coachable. What we’ve heard on that front thus far hasn’t been encouraging considering how he’s reportedly expected to request a trade. Seems like he doesn’t fully accept how much he was to blame for his own struggles. I hope I’m wrong about that and I hope he puts in the work that Allen did last offseason.
4 - Sean McDermott leads the Bills to their first playoff win in over 25 years
The former Eagles defensive coordinator has come a long way since unsuccessfully trying to fill the shoes of the legendary Jim Johnson. McDermott led Buffalo to their first playoff victory since beating the Miami Dolphins in December 1995. Big congrats to Bills fans!
I don’t think the Bills are done yet. Though getting through the Ravens and then likely the Chiefs will be no easy task, I BILLieve in Buffalo making it to the Super Bowl and winning it all. Anyone else on that bandwagon?
5 - Karma for the Seahawks
For the second year in a row, the Seahawks’ biggest defensive offseason acquisition knocked an opponent’s starting quarterback out of a playoff game with a hit to the head. Last year it was Jadeveon Clowney concussing Carson Wentz to bring Josh McCown into the game. This year it was Jamal Adams hospitalizing John Wolford to bring an injured Jared Goff into the game.
This time, of course, the Seahawks lost. That’s something Eagles fans might enjoy since Seattle always own Philly.
6 - Washington Football Team is trending up
Overall, 2020 was an encouraging season for Washington. My friend Bryan Stabbe from Hogs Haven summed it up well:
While a very challenging and unpredictable year for Washington ends in defeat, this is a season that can not be called anything if not a success. The club faced turnover, turmoil, and adversity on and off the field, but a trip to the postseason in the first year under head coach Ron Rivera is truly remarkable and inspiring. While Alex Smith was unable to suit up on this night, his leadership and veteran ability were essential to this team. In the year he was finally able to return to football following a recovery from a catastrophic injury, he will be the runaway leader in the Comeback Player Of The Year Award.
There will be plenty of questions to answer in the offseason, but Washington’s performance in 2020 was a remarkable feat, and they conclude it with potential and intrigue at what will come next.
If Washington can find an answer at quarterback (would be horrifying to see them land Deshaun Watson), they could be a real problem to deal with moving forward.
Of course, Dan Snyder might very well find a way to mess things up. But perhaps Ron Rivera’s stabilizing presence helps to cancel out Snyder’s volatility?
7 - Tom Brady and Donovan McNabb
Tom Brady, still going strong at 43 years old. He’s up to 14 touchdowns and one interception in his last five starts after Saturday night’s win.
To put Brady’s success in perspective, realize that McNabb is only 251 days older than him and last played a snap in October 2011. Methinks Brady will still be playing in October 2021.
8 - Arthur Smith is available to interview
The Titans’ offensive coordinator is one of the most intriguing head coaching candidates on the market. If the Eagles do indeed move on from Pederson, I’d like to see them interview the guy who called plays for the offense that ranked fifth in offensive points per game (28.6).
Unfortunately, Smith seems unlikely to join the Eagles. He’s basically garnering interest from all of the team with coaching vacancies. I can’t see how the Eagles would be able to land one of the top candidates when there are more attractive openings.
9 - No Nick Foles magic
There were calls to replace Mitchell Trubisky with Nick Foles with the Chicago Bears struggling in the Superdome. Alas, it did not happen.
10 - The need to be Fearless
One of my biggest disappointments with Pederson in recent seasons is how he hasn’t been quite as aggressive as he once was. Whether it’s him returning or being replaced, I hope the Eagles get more aggressiveness out of their head coach moving forward. I certainly don’t want to see the pathetic cowardice that was on display during the Wild Card round.
Look at this awfulness from Mike Vrabel:
TEN decided to punt to BAL from the BAL 40 on 4th & 2 with 10:06 remaining in the 4th while losing 13 to 17.— Surrender Index (@surrender_index) January 10, 2021
With a Surrender Index of 138.87, this punt ranks at the 100th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2020 season, and the 99.92nd percentile of all punts since 2009.
And Mike Tomlin, too:
PIT decided to punt to CLE from the PIT 46* on 4th & 1* with 14:52 remaining in the 4th while losing 23 to 35.— Surrender Index (@surrender_index) January 11, 2021
With a Surrender Index of 9.29, this punt ranks at the 94th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2020 season, and the 92nd percentile of all punts since 2009.
Vrabel and Tomlin are good coaches. But boy did they deserve to lose after not playing to win.
11 - The Nickelodeon broadcast was fun!
The slime zone!
The Saints scored a touchdown and WE GET END ZONE SLIME CANNONS! pic.twitter.com/9M79MPkGSR— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 10, 2021
SpongeBob seems pretty happy that the Saints field goal attempt didn't hit him in the face pic.twitter.com/lePAnk65T7— SB Nation (@SBNation) January 10, 2021
Cute stuff like this!
And now Young Sheldon is explaining penalties pic.twitter.com/lFuCVEaYd9— CJ Fogler #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) January 10, 2021
I thought it was fun! I wouldn’t mind seeing more of this in the future.
12 - Philly ties to the Browns
The Bills weren’t the only team to get off the schneid; the Browns finally won their first playoff game since January 1, 1995!
Here are some potential extra reasons to root for Cleveland, if you’re not already. General manager Andrew Berry (should of kept?) spent just under a year in the Eagles’ front office as their vice president of football operations. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, meanwhile, is a Philly native who attended St. Joe’s Prep and UPenn.
Anyone think the Browns can pull off an upset over the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs this weekend?