It’s impossible to walk by a game of oversized Jenga at the bar and not look at the teetering stack of blocks. There’s something about how it sways before inevitably crashing down into wreckage that’s enthralling. It’s how I feel when I look at the Eagles’ bandwagon growing like a neglected yard.
I understand liking their chances to win the NFC East. It’s a clown shoes division that features two of the worst-run teams in the NFL, neither of which is helmed by Jerry Jones. An MIT student could come up with an algorithm to crack that code over spring break. Philly should be favored to win it by default.
Anything more than that — best record, Super Bowl, etc. — is irresponsible. Telling a fanbase prone to tantrums that they’re going to Disneyland when they’re more likely to end up at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is going to incite a shit-eating riot of the worst kind.
Talented rosters don’t guarantee playoff success, only good quarterbacks do. Maybe the Eagles’ plan is to run away with the regular with Jalen Hurts under center, and then, when teams least expect it, pivot to Gardner Minshew in Nick Foles-ian fashion. Every bookie fielding Hurts for MVP bets — at +2500, he’s right behind Lamar Jackson with the 12th best odds — is cackling to themselves.
The former Sooner was the quarterback who didn’t win the Heisman under Lincoln Riley, and the only reason he’s not viewed through a largely negative lens is he has yet to go through the hypes and subsequent lows that have befallen Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Hurts lost his starting spot to Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama, but yeah, of those four quarterbacks, he’s going to be the one who pops (if Murray hasn’t already locked up that distinction).
It’s unclear what happened a couple of months ago when the Philly media was ready to hit the panic button on its quarterback situation like an obnoxious passenger on a United flight smashing the attendant button because he didn’t sync his credit card with the app before takeoff. (Just listen to your podcast sober like the rest of us poor bastards who couldn’t extend the pre-boarding buzz.) As happy as I am that Hurts is getting a chance, franchise savior is a reach.
I had AJ Brown last year in fantasy, and he was relentlessly on the injury report. The Titans’ regular season success the past few years was more about what Derrick Henry opened up for Ryan Tannehill than what the receivers opened up for Henry.
In Brown’s best season — his 2020 campaign when he had 70 receptions for 1,075 yards and 11 scores — he wasn’t in the top 15 in receiving yards. Hurts couldn’t keep his job when he had Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs on his roster at Alabama. I don’t care if he’s throwing to DeVonta Smith, because he also was on that 2017 Crimson Tide team.
Let’s keep the expectations realistic. This is a Jimmy Garoppolo-49ers situation where the team could make a deep playoff run, but it’ll be on the backs of the running game, solid coaching, and a physical defense. Those three facets for the Eagles were all fine a year ago. Miles Sanders broke out late last year I guess, and Nick Sirianni might want to worry about his QB’s health before he runs him like he’s Cam Newton.
The defense wasn’t in the top half of the league in points allowed a year ago, and while they added talent, let’s see some results before we project them to leave a plethora of hobbled offenses in their wake. Ron Rivera has won seven games in his first two years in the NFC East, so take that into account when touting the nine Ws Sirianni accumulated in 2021.
The Eagles have the sixth-best odds (+1100) of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl, but that’s because there’s no one else. Hell, the Bucs are favored to come out of the conference, and Tom Brady looks like he’s been sleeping in a tanning bed.
Sharps point to Philly’s favorable schedule as if it’s the answer to the midterm, and asks, “Why not the Eagles?” I don’t know, because they snuck up on a bunch of teams last year before getting discarded by Tampa like James Bond judo chopping a nameless henchman.
Anonymity is no longer on their side, the bandwagon is overloaded to a perilous degree, and it feels like a crowd is gathering more to watch the spectacle of a tumbling tower than to see how far it rises.