I want you to turn time back a year. I want you to remember the Eagles being down by a few points at any given time. Just think back to the six losses they suffered during the course of the 2009 season. The teams that beat us were the Saints, the Raiders, the Cowboys, and the Chargers. All in all, they handed us some truly embarrassing losses. Losses that made you sick to be a fan. All of those losses had something in common beyond that, however. In every loss, there was the feeling from the fan base that there was no chance come a certain point.
In some cases it was valid. Against the Saints, the Eagles went down early and by just after half time the game was out of hand. It got to the point where no matter what happened, the Eagles weren’t going to make a comeback. After all, Kevin Kolb was making his first career start and the Saints were clearly the far superior team. No one could’ve expected that a kid making his first start in the NFL was going to lead his team to victory after trailing by double digit points to a very good team.
In other cases, the idea that there was no hope was irrational. At least, that’s what the average fan or pundit would tell you. Maybe I’m spouting off nonsense, but I firmly believe that most fans knew all was doomed early on once the Eagles started to trail teams like the Chargers and Cowboys. In all four of those games, the opposition struck quick and often. The Eagles were facing a deficit from the get go and if you were being honest with yourself, you knew they were doomed.
Why is this? You’ve likely already come up with a few reasons in your mind. It’s probably a safe bet that many of those reasons surround Andy Reid and/or Donovan McNabb. Fair enough. I don’t have the answers. I won’t pretend to. But let’s stop living in the past and come back to the present.
The Eagles have been behind late in games seven times now. They’ve come back to win three of them. Okay, now those numbers aren’t exactly eye popping. However, there’s something that numbers don’t show. In every game, with the exception of one (at Tennessee), the Eagles were in position to win when previously in the game they were dead in the water. They came within one dropped pass of winning another one of those games. They overcame huge deficits at times to make a previously boring contest competitive.
Now, at the end of the day I know what you truly care about is wins. You don’t care about almost winning because almost winning is still losing. But, take comfort in one thing: This team is showing a heart we haven’t seen before. The fourth quarter used to be the bane of existence for many Eagles fans. We hated it. We dreaded it. If the Eagles were down in the fourth we might as well have made for the gates. That is not the case anymore. The Eagles have been building confidence with each and every week.
Now the question is: Why? What has caused this possible change in culture? Has it been A) Michael Vick? B) The “youth movement?” Or C) Has Andy Reid done something? One could make arguments for all three of those ideas. They are all very valid. Personally, I believe that it’s D) All the above.
Vick has unquestionably provided a spark. He is making incredibly clutch throws. Has he made mistakes? Yes, but every quarterback does. At the same time, the receiving and rushing weapons that this team boasts are starting to really gel with each other. LeSean McCoy is becoming the true big play man on the team. He’s made big plays in both the rushing and receiving game and many of them have come at key times, late in games. Andy Reid has even been a factor. He’s calling plays at very ideal times late in games. His ability to notice the defensive tendencies of the opponent is a huge reason why they’ve had such a spark.
There’s still a lot of work to do. Obviously the Eagles wouldn’t ever face a deficit if we had it our way as fans. However, we’ll never have it all our way. As it is, there are a lot of positives to be seen in this team. There is a fight in them that we haven’t seen in quite some time. Things like that add up over time. Who knows, down the road this could lead to some great things. You know, like a Lombardi Trophy.