The Eagles return from their well earned bye with a matchup against the Steelers, who historically they have been great against. The Eagles have a .614 winning percentage against the Steelers, the only teams they have a better record against they have played fewer than 15 times. And the Steelers are one of three teams the Eagles are undefeated against in the playoffs, having beaten them 21-0 in 1947. The other two are the Vikings and the Lions.
None of this means anything for Sunday, but I was surprised the Eagles have been so successful against a franchise that hasn’t been bad for 50 years. It should continue this week.
A tale of two cities
The Pittsburgh Steelers are, above all else, two things: extremely patient, and extremely successful. They’ve had three coaches since 1969. The last time they had back to back losing seasons was 1999. Between Chuck Noll’s first winning season in 1972 and last season they have had only 11 seasons of .500 or worse. And of course, they’ve won six Super Bowls and been to two others.
The Steelers move at their own pace, and no one else moves at theirs. You could say it’s worked out for them.
In more modern times, their approach to the QB position demonstrates this perfectly. In 2004 the Chargers and Giants did their dance in drafting and then trading Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, the Steelers sat back at 11 and took Ben Roethlisberger. They got more success out of him than either the Chargers or Giants did with their QBs, winning two Super Bowls and reaching a third. Then they let Roethlisberger play well past his expiration date. This offseason while five teams traded for a QB and eight draft picks ahead of them were dealt, the Steelers once again sat back and landed the guy they wanted, Kenny Pickett. Time will tell if that was a good pick, but in an NFL landscape where teams are trading up to take the fourth QB off the board–including in the 2022 draft–the Steelers are, as always, moving at their own pace.
On the other side of this cross-Pennsylvania matchup is a team that used to be pretty patient but now is anything but. After 14 seasons with Andy Reid, which is one fewer than Bill Cowher’s tenure with the Steelers, the Eagles are on their third coach in 10 seasons. They changed starting QB in 2021 and then in the offseason of 2022 tried to change it again. They’ve made three trades in the 1st round in the past two seasons. They’ve constantly overhauled their roster, switching from rebuild to contender at the flip of a switch.
The Eagles also move at their own pace. From a distance it’s hard to say that isn’t working. They’ve made the playoffs in four of the past five years, won a Super Bowl and have the best team in the NFC this season.
Whatever works for you.
Lane Johnson for MVP
How you determine the “value” part of Most Valuable Player is up to the user, but “best player on the best team” is a reasonable starting point for discussion.
The Eagles have as good of a claim to the best team in the league as any other team. I propose that the Eagles best player is Lane Johnson. So it stands to reason that Lane Johnson should be in consideration for MVP.
Of course, this will never happen. The last player to win MVP that wasn’t a QB or a RB was Lawrence Taylor in 1986. Only two other players who weren’t QBs or RBs have won it: Alan Page in 1972 and Mark Moseley in the strike shortened season in 1982, which partially explains why he won it as a kicker. An offensive lineman has never won MVP lesser relatives the Bert Bell Award, PFWA MVP, or AP Offensive Player of the Year.
The best Lane Johnson can hope for is unanimous All Pro. That won’t happen either. Hopefully he can settle for winning another Super Bowl. At the very least his name will forever be linked with the coolest play in NFL history. That’s not bad.
Factoid of the Week That May Only Interest Me
Jalen Hurts, who is in his third year, is younger than rookie Kenny Pickett.
(Only by a few months.)
Top 5 Steels
I promise you I have never read her books.