The caller’s name was Carl, and he was speaking for thousands of Eagles fans yesterday when he fought back tears after the 38-27 loss to Dallas on Sunday night.
“I’m 53 years old,” he sobbed on my WIP radio show. “This is crazy.”
And yet it is a life we have chosen for ourselves, this preoccupation with the exploits of a football franchise that has not produced a champion for 54 years, and will fail to do so again this season. Being an Eagles fan can be a blessing; far more often, it is a curse.
The worst part about the current state of these Birds is that they promised more than we had a right to expect until just a couple of weeks ago. In coach Chip Kelly’s second season, the roster holes from the Andy Reid era are still formidable, the talent still glaringly deficient.
As the Eagles learned on Sunday night, their cornerbacks are neither skilled enough nor smart enough to compete at the highest levels. Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant torched Bradley Fletcher for three touchdowns. Cary Williams amassed 60 yards in penalties on the other side of the field. They were the two biggest reasons for the loss.
Mark Sanchez is not a starting quarterback in the NFL. If you still doubt that conclusion, feel free to review the tape of his critical mistake on an easy throw over the middle to tight end Zach Ertz in the fourth quarter that led to a fatal interception. Sanchez is far better at talking about the game than actually playing it.
The other villains in the worst loss of the season are too many to list here. It’s easier to point out the players who deserved a better fate: Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Chris Polk, Evan Mathis. That’s it. No other Eagles, and definitely none of the coaches, were worthy of praise.
Chip Kelly usually blames himself after a loss, and yesterday was no exception. His team didn’t respond well to an opening kickoff snafu, they didn’t adjust effectively to Bryant’s heroics, and they couldn’t get off the field defensively on third downs. They didn’t play like a division winner, and now they probably won’t be.
What I wanted to know from Kelly yesterday is whether he deals with losses in the same emotional way the fans do. After all, Kelly’s life is football. He is not married, has no kids. He is defined by the success of his football team. Does a loss like the Dallas game stay with him the way it does with the fans?
“There’s another game to play,” he said. “We’ve got to worry about Washington now.”
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy for Eagles fans. A caller named Carl was driving with tears in his eyes yesterday, trying to figure out why a loss like this hurts so much. This Dallas game is going to stay with us for a long time. Carl said it best. This is crazy.
- After trading Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers for two mediocre prospects, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said he probably waited too long to break up the core of the 2008 champions. Amaro has been in charge of personnel for seven years, and he just figured this out. The fans knew three years ago.
- New Jersey governor Chris Christie was sharing high-fives in the luxury box of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during the Dallas win over the Eagles on Sunday night. Does Christie really believe his love for the Cowboys is going to help get him elected president? Here’s a better question: Doesn’t he know it’s going to hurt?
- Magic Johnson, one of the greatest competitors in NBA history, said last week that he wants his former team, the Lakers, to lose every game because they need to get as high in the draft as possible. If that remark isn’t reason enough for the NBA to change its broken system, what is?
- When the Sixers won two of three games last week, GM Sam Hinkie sprung into action. He traded Brandon Davies to Brooklyn at halftime of a game against Atlanta. Mission accomplished. The Sixers lost that contest, and then blew an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter against Memphis. Sam Hinkie, the king of tankers.
- Hedge-fund genius Joshua Harris owns two sports franchises, the Sixers and the New Jersey Devils. Before tonight’s action, they had a combined record of 13-41. OK, I give up. How did this joker become a billionaire?