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Weapon X Mailbag: Is Ben Simmons the Sixers version of Carson Wentz?

Plus: Loki talk and worst Philly losses!

NFL: OCT 06 Jets at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Well, the Sixers have just crushed my hopes and dreams into oblivion. We are less than three months away from the Eagles doing the same thing. Save for two times in the 100-plus Philadelphia major sport seasons in my lifetime, we are all just Sisyphus, pushing a rock up a hill only for it to roll down upon us time and time again.

On that, uh, not very positive note, here are this week’s mailbag questions:

@showtimesalvato: Thoughts around the wentz/simmons comparisons going around?

They’re pretty spot on!

Carson Wentz and Ben Simmons were both highly touted top-two picks in 2016. They showcased a ton of promise and success immediately in their careers. Neither improved after their breakout seasons (2017 for Wentz, 2018 for Simmons). Both have been babied and enabled by members of their respective organizations, forming a wall from criticism that differs from the concept of being true team players. Both have had their blind faith defenders among the fanbases who were unwilling to look past what they wanted the players to be and look at them for what they are.

Their personalities never seemed to quite fit in Philadelphia. Both of their tenures in the city will go down as successes, but a weird disappointing success that could only exist in the reality-warping hellscape that is Philly sports. Did the Scarlet Witch move into the area in March 2018?

It was the best possible thing for both sides when the Eagles traded Wentz to the Colts this offseason and moved forward as an organization. It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this, but the same needs to be done with Simmons. Just as I could never see Wentz playing another game in an Eagles jersey following the disastrous 2020 season, I certainly can’t see Simmons playing for the Sixers again after this all-time playoff collapse.

They were both great! They were both terribly annoying! I don’t want anything to do with them ever again!

@KevOContent: What’s your single worst loss as a fan. Mine will always be the NFC title game loss to close the Vet, followed by Ryan Howard hitting the deck with an Achilles tear to end the Phillies 2007-2011 glory run, and the Patrick Kane OT winner. This entry feels on par with those losses.

Given the magnitude and the setting, it will always be the 2002 NFC Championship Game against the Buccaneers. Ronde Barber will see me in hell one day. At eight years old going on nine, that game sent me on the neurotic path that would lead me to being a freak Philly sports fan for the next two decades.

What kills me about that game was that it was the PERFECT path to the Lombardi Trophy. I wrote the following in my newsletter earlier this week (subscribe here):

[The 2021 Sixers] reminds me of the 2002 Eagles. Clearly the best team of its respective franchise era, they were the top seed and had the advantage of playing at home. Their path to a championship would never be clearer. The Eagles made the NFC Championship Game four-consecutive times from 2001-2004. 2002 would’ve been the lone year they didn’t play the juggernaut Patriots. In retrospect, we know what a golden opportunity was wasted.

It left Eagles fans irrevocably broken.

That’s the worst loss, but I’ve never been more disgustingly embarrassed than I was when the Sixers blew a 26-point lead in Game 5 this series to go down 3-2. That was on the heels of losing an 18-point lead two days prior. I was ashamed to have dedicated so much of my life to this franchise. At least for the Eagles on that fateful day at Veterans Stadium, they were outplayed and ran into one of the best defenses of all time. Whatever.

The Sixers were the top seed and failed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, a place they haven’t been since 2001. Outside of Game 1 against the Hawks, they were better than Atlanta in each game. They just couldn’t get it done. EMBARRASSING. It inspired this rant:

So let’s do a top five:

  1. 2002 NFC Championship Game: Buccaneers at Eagles
  2. 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 5: Hawks at Sixers
  3. 2011 National League Division Series Game 2: Cardinals at Phillies (Cliff Lee with a loser meltdown, I was there for it)
  4. 2010 National League Championship Series Game 6: Giants at Phillies
  5. 2018 NFC Divisional Game: Eagles at Saints

The list is pretty fluid between three and on, but one and two are set in stone.

@KevinB118: Game 7 ONLY, more at fault, Bens lack of offense or Tobias lack of finishing at the rim?

Both terrible. Again, would be cool with neither ever playing for the Sixers again, but it’s still Simmons. His offense style crippled any semblance of half-court offense. That’s not to say that Tobias Harris and his missed layups didn’t have me ripping my hair out and cursing the heavens in my living room on Sunday.

As Jason Kelce once said, “IT’S THE WHOLE TEAM!”

@notmichaelwrght: Are there any NFL teams with more boom or bust potential than the Eagles? I feel like they could be anywhere between being a bottom 3 team and winning a playoff game, 100% dependent on how young talent performs.

It all comes down to Jalen Hurts, right? If he balls out, the Eagles could skate to the postseason in a weak division and win a home playoff game. After that, who knows what could happen? If he’s a mess and his accuracy issues due him in, the Birds will be in a position to draft one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft with their multiple high picks. It could be worse!

If I’m throwing money down on this, however, I’m rolling with the former option. I believe in Jalen Hurts.

@vroomrags: If you could steal any one player from each NFC East team, who would it be? Also, what do you think was the Eagles’ best draft pick over the past five years?

I love this question!

Washington: Chase Young, EDGE

Giants: James Bradberry, CB

Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb, WR

As for the draft question, the cut off would be 2017.

Here’s who I’d select as their top pick in each draft:

2017: Derek Barnett

2018: Jordan Mailata

2019: Miles Sanders

2020: Jalen Hurts

2021: DeVonta Smith

Part of me just wants to say DeVonta Smith by default, but given that he was a seventh-round pick, is it simply Jordan Mailata? A good starting left tackle with 233rd-overall pick is WILD.

@PatrickO_Leary: Thoughts on Loki so far? Any ideas on how they’ll spin the “other” loki’s origin story?

SPOILER ALERT FOR LOKI ON DISNEY+

(Editor’s note: I did not proofread this because I haven’t seen Loki yet. Any typos are on Shamus. Love, Ben)

I adore it. WandaVision was the perfect first series for the MCU on Disney+. It was genre bending, it had the humor that fans have been accustomed to in Marvel movies and packed plenty of heart. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was more formulaic, so I’m glad Kevin Feige and company are getting back to total bananas craziness and alternate reality fun with Loki.

Loki is frequently showcased to be gender fluid in the comics. Is this seemingly female Loki a Loki from an alternate timeline after a Nexus event set things off course? Is it just the Loki we know from a different part in the main MCU timeline, meaning that maybe Loki came back to life at some point in the future after his death in Avengers: Infinity War? How many Lokis (Lokies? Is Loki already plural like deer?) are we going to see?!? Maybe the Kid Loki that was awesome from writer Kieron Gillen in Journey Into Mystery and Young Avengers?

I can’t answer those questions, but with what we’ve seen so far from the Time Variance Authority, the possibility of a live-action “Spider-Verse” adaption with Spider-Man: No Way Home and the aptly titled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it’s a great time if you like the bonkers sci-fi world comic book properties have to offer.