Can Eagles Shock the World?

In anticipation of the Eagles upcoming campaign to defend their thrilling Super Bowl championship, here's an essay by a guy that writes for the Weekly Standard. This piece reads much better now that we know which team was victorious.    GO BIRDS!!!!! 


Can the Eagles Shock the World?

There are only two aspects in which the Patriots have a clear advantage: coach and quarterback. Oh.

7:10 AM, FEB 04, 2018 | By JONATHAN V. LAST

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles hands the ball to Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi during the NFC Championship game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings on January 21, 2017 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. Photo credit: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.


So here we are.

The Big Game—dear Lord, I hate that euphemism—is today. The Philadelphia Eagles are either going to fulfill their destiny as tragic anti-heroes or shock the world. My personal bet is on the former.

Some notes, in no particular order:

Among serious football nerds, a consensus has emerged that the Eagles are the slightly superior team. Bigger, faster. Better defense. Strong front line. Balanced offense. Matchup nightmares galore. There are only two aspects in which the Patriots have a clear advantage: coach and quarterback. Thank goodness those things never determine the outcome of football games.

And I’ll tell you this: I believe it. I think that, by a nose, Philadelphia is a better squad than New England. But don’t take my word for it. Even Gregg Easterbrook, the sage of TMQ, more or less agrees. He’s picked the Eagles to win. To win!

But hear me now and listen to me later: This fact only makes me more certain that the Eagles are going to lose. Getting beat by a better team isn’t tragic. You know what’s tragic? Getting beat by a team that isn’t quite as good as you.

And Philadelphia is a factory for tragedy.

I’m already filled with angst about what’s going to happen to Nick Foles after the game. Foles could well become a member of a very small club: Quarterbacks who won a Super Bowl and were then promptly traded, released, or benched by their team.

If you want to tell me that Carson Wentz is absolutely better than Foles, you can do that. But you’re going to have to rely on the eyeball test to make the case. Because their career stats are almost identical. And Foles isn’t a flash in the pan. In his first run as an Eagles starter he set the league record for touchdowns in a game. Last week he turned in the 16th best performance in a conference championship game, ever. Foles is exactly what he looks like right now.

But whatever the numbers say, the Eagles seem 100 percent committed to Carson Wentz. Which means that Foles could well be the Super Bowl MVP and still find himself without a guaranteed starting job come summer. Even Jeff Hostetler was at least given the chance to compete for the job against Phil Simms after winning the Super Bowl as a back-up for the Giants. But that’s par for the course with Foles: This guy has the worst organizational luck of any professional athlete I’ve ever seen. He’s a case study in how even in professional sports, meritocracy is heavily influenced by externalities.

By the way: Hostetler won that competition against the vaunted Simms and became the Giants’ starter the next season. So don’t tell me that the eyeball test is always right.

The only question, for me, is how it’s all going to go down. And here I have to say that I have one request of the football gods: Please don’t let the Patriots win by staging a fourth-quarter comeback.

I can live with the Eagles losing the Super Bowl. (As I said last week, I probably even need them to lose, in some cosmological, teleological sense.) What I don’t want to have to carry around for the next four decades is the sense that the Birds let the Super Bowl slip through their fingers.

Let New England win in a shoot out. Let Brady engineer a late, game-winning drive. Let the Eagles miss a long field-goal at the end of regulation. Just don’t give them a three-score lead with 12 minutes left and have them collapse. That would be too much to bear.

Then again, the most tragic outcome is probably the most likely outcome. Because as the Buddha said, suffering is the essence of Philadelphia.

 ***POSTED SEPTEMBER 2, 2018***