EYE don’t think the magic of the 2017 Eagles’ championship season can ever be duplicated —not even by an improved roster talent-wise, nor by another NFL team. It was a magical flow of events which began in the 2016 offseason, actually, with the hiring of Doug Pederson and the arrival of the attacking 4-3 defense of Jim Schwartz, not to mention the drafting of Carson Wentz and the trade of Sammy Sleeves, and the emergence of a humbler, smarter Howie Roseman from Chip Kelly’s broom closet.
That 2016 experience paved the way through growing pains for a winning team culture which blossomed to quick fruition in a most amazing way.
I can’t imagine another season like 2017, one which began with an exuberant NFL Draft staged in Philly which looking back on it was an omen of things to come. Then there was the Alshon Jeffrey signing—the splash move which said to the world this team was serious about winning now. Then the games began.
There was no shortage of injury setbacks, no shortage of social controversy, no shortage of dramatic big plays hinging on gutsy one-on-one performances or aggressive playcalling. Yet the wins kept a-stacking. The team held it together. We fans were used to waiting for the other shoe to drop—but it never did.
Who goes from 7-9 to 16-3 and a world/NFL championship? Nobody, it seems, except us! As a fan I kept notching up the wins and slowly inhaled a haze of confidence. Nobody believed in us except…us! (and Tony Dungy)…
It wasn’t a dream— but it was magic.
We tried buying a championship once back in 2011 with dollars, lots of dollars. All we proved is you can’t buy a championship with dollars. You need magic.
All of this leads to my careful realization that mEYE work here is done.
There is not much more EYE can add to the Eagles fan experience.
When I started this column back in late 2007, it was meant to be a weekly mountain retreat for fellow fans around the world to commiserate about their favorite team which could never seem to win the Big One.
Gradually this place became a backup for the wonderful guys who were displaced from their old hangout at Dave Spadaro’s “On The Inside” fan gallery due either to a silly format change at PE.com, or due to the nasty censors roaming the halls of Evergreen.
We became a family within a family, so to speak. EYE have made lifelong friendships and memories, even if mostly just virtual ones. The spirit is real, even if the flesh is weak.
One of the new missions of the EYE was for me to learn more about the sport of football from not only the great guys who posted here regularly, but also from the guest writers who contributed from time to time. I had played youth football, a year in high school and a couple of years of club football in college, but I was raw in real knowledge of inside metrics and techniques. So I took the approach of starting over—assuming I knew nothing about the game. Thanks to all who contributed here over the years I am a much smarter fan today. For example, when Brandon Graham made the game-saving strip-sack of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, EYE was able to identify that Schwartz had Graham lined up at defensive tackle over the Patriots’ right guard. Ten years ago I would have missed that detail.
I have to smile when I think of all the “clinic” articles we used to do— clinics on tackling, on secondary coverages, on punting and kicking, on the “over defense 9 technique”, on offensive linemen’s AACT routines, on route trees, on equipment innovations, heck, we even did a clinic on backyard Amish football in tribute to our regional “Dutch Rubb” correspondent.
We schemed on an almost daily basis on how this Eagles franchise could someday get over the hump. We rolled that rock up the hill, and inevitably it rolled back down upon us.
This time the rock stayed at the top.
I started this journalistic journey with a trek to Eagles training camp in Lehigh Valley where they used to hold summer camp back in 2007. There were maybe 10 or 12 regular Eagles fan blogs back then. Now there are well over 100, with the best of them churning out daily content. Coverage of the Eagles has exceeded the saturation point. Nobody used to love us, but everybody it seems loves a winner!
This is not a formal goodbye. I’m just fading away.
We still have some business to finish here, like updating all the past fan contest champion lists. Then there’s the upcoming MACH 10 Draft Challenge, which will be the 12th annual edition.
No matter how the transition goes, I know I can always find you in Da Future. There’s Ryan Lubrich’s Discord.com on gamedays, there’s Leo Pizzini’s “Eagles Blitz” group on Facebook, there’s ~BROZ at Drafttek, there’s Spadaro’s column and Jimmy Kempski’s blog and Tommy Lawlor’s comments section at Igglesblitz.
I ain’t leaving…just slowing down to enjoy the view. For example, I heard on the radio today that Torrey Smith is hosting a charity basketball tournament later this week in Baltimore. The announcer said these words: “You all in Maryland remember Torrey Smith, don’t you, who is now a member of the WORLD CHAMPION PHILADELPHIA EAGLES?”
That felt so good to hear coming from an out-of-state station. It also made me realize, there’s nothing EYE can add to the power of that accomplishment.