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This could have been us

Two franchises have walked the same path

Indianapolis Colts v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Sam Morris/Getty Images

Every franchise in the NFL is its own thing, but the one that I would say is closest to the Eagles are the Colts. Yes Jim Irsay is unintentionally hilarious, but as a franchise these teams operate fairly identically. Sometimes too much so.

Alternate but co-existing universes

For starters, since 1995, Lurie’s first full season and Irsay’s first season taking over team control, they have stunningly similar achievements.

Colts: 10 division titles, 18 playoff appearances, 5 AFCCG appearances, 2 Super Bowl appearances, 1 Super Bowl win

Eagles: 9 division titles, 16 playoff appearances, 6 NFCCG appearances, 2 Super bowl appearances, 1 Super Bowl win

So there’s an alternate universe where the Eagles are the Colts and the Colts are the Eagles, and... not much changes? Both had significant success in the 2000s and 2010s, and both triumphed over the Tom Brady Patriots en route to a Super Bowl win. The overall satisfaction level of Eagles and Colts fans for those decades is the same.

But more than the results, their top level methods are pretty similar. Jeffrey Lurie and Jim Irsay don’t mind a singular rebuilding year but aren’t interested in a multi-year project. For both owners every 4 win or fewer season has resulted in the coach being fired unless it was their first year. Every coach they have hired made the playoffs by their second season, which is not something every team can say. Over their nearly three decades of ownership it would be unfair to say Lurie and Irsay have been impatient, but they certainly are not content to let things come to them. They want to win, and win now, but generally aren’t given to snap judgements and overreactions to achieve it. And as much as we joke that the Eagles are a QB factory, the Colts production line has been working hard. They moved near seamlessly from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck, and have had a different starting QB for seven seasons. In a 25 year span everyone is going to have their share of mistakes and regrets, but these are two of the most stable franchises in the NFL. That’s one—but not the main—reason why it was Irsay who publicly criticized Daniel Snyder and why the result was bad for Snyder. Someone like Shad Khan or Michael Bidwill don’t have the clout to breach protocol.

The past few years have seen the two franchises continue to chart courses that are parallel but also intersecting.

There’s obviously the Carson Wentz connection. But before that, both had Josh McDaniels at the top of their list on a coaching search. And when that failed, for the Colts when McDaniels quit the day he was officially hired, for the Eagles when they got cold feet before hiring him, they hired the OC from each other.

Then there is this offseason. Both teams won 9 games in 2021. That was good enough for the Eagles to make the playoffs as the 7th seed while the Colts missed the 7th seed by half a game. They made totally different conclusions.

The Colts made a change at QB, swapping out Carson Wentz for the parboiled Matt Ryan. But they were otherwise content with their roster, only making moves at the margins. Their second biggest signing in free agency, where they were not strapped for cap space, was Nick Foles, and they made no non-QB player trades. They felt their 9 win roster was otherwise good enough. It hasn’t been close to good enough.

The Eagles were not at all content with their 9 win roster. They remade their defense and WR depth chart. They’re the best team in the NFC, possibly the league. But let us not forget that in the offseason they too felt a QB change was needed, they to trade for Russell Wilson and kicked the tires on Deshaun Watson. They also tried to trade for Calvin Ridley and sign Allen Robinson and/or JuJu Smith-Schuster. They were reportedly interested in Chandler Jones. How bad would that team be?

So in addition to there being an alternate universe where the Eagles are the Colts of the past, there’s an alternate universe where the Eagles are Colts of today: a broken team that demands firings.

It probably doesn’t involve the Eagles equivalent of Jeff Saturday coaching the team though. At least there would be that.

(Would that be Brent Celek? Brian Dawkins is too high profile and he worked in the front office for a couple of seasons, which gives him more post-playing career NFL experience than Saturday.)

Back to the Future!

The Eagles defensive line is going to be impossible to stop. In 2013.

That season Robert Quinn had 19 sacks, Ndamukong Suh had 5.5, while Linval Joseph, Brandon Graham, and Fletcher Cox had 3, for a total of 33.5, which was more than five teams in 2013. And we’re only talking about five players, three of whom are DTs! And that’s only sacks, you wouldn’t bother running against this line.

Or how about 2017. That season Graham had 9.5 sacks, Quinn 8.5, Cox 5.5, Suh 4.5, and Joseph 3.5. And we can add then-rookie Haason Reddick’s 2.5 and then-second year Javon Hargrave’s 2.0. That gives us a more realistic rotation with three edge rushers and four DTs. That septet had 35.5 sacks in 2017, which was more than 11 teams.

In 2022 the old man brigade might be good enough, and if so that’s, well, good enough.

Stat of the Week That May Only Interest Me

The Eagles have more rushing TDs (17) than the Colts have total TDs (15: 10 passing, 5 rushing, 0 on defense or special teams).

Top 5 Lines From Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade

1. She talks in her sleep.

2. The floor is on fire. And the chair.

3. Fly? Yes. Land? No.

4. What happens at 11 o’clock?

5. I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne. Let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky.

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