We haven’t won a playoff game since the dramatic finish to the 2008 season. So here we are in the culmination of the season of 2017 in the unique position of the Cat-BIRD seat— waiting patiently to see whom it is we will be playing when the dust settles after the wild-card round. Am I hallucinating?
Some say we are in this position only because of “mediocre privilege”… In other words, the competition in the NFC this year has been “dumbed down” by the cumulative effect of key injuries to star players on other teams and an overall malaise in roster talent throughout the conference. The system is rigged, they say, so that the NFL gets closer and closer to its alleged dream of having every team in the league finish at 8-8.
But a team sitting at 12-2 going into a Christmas Monday night game vs. the Oakland Raiders is clearly doing something special. As Herm Edwards once said, you play the games to win the games. By implication, you run your front office and you coach your employees to win the games. The 2017 Eagles didn’t just show up to collect a guaranteed paycheck. Across the board of what it takes to run a football team in the NFL, this has been a special blend of motivation and talent.
It is somewhat fitting that we have to wait until the final game on Christmas night to parse the probability of our playoff future opponents. Usually I am chomping at the bit to get to experience the actual game. This year I am savoring the wake we have left behind so far in the maritime race that is the NFC regular season. There are teams that have shipwrecked or are struggling to stay afloat behind us. We used to be one of those boats.
Beating the Raiders on Christmas night would put a nice bow on the package heading into the “second season.” I don’t pretend that will be an easy task (see previous article).
A win will give the Eagles home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Birds are currently competing with the rejuvenated Minnesota Vikings (12-3) for the top spot in the NFC. If the Eagles should lose, a Minnesota loss would be needed to secure the top spot.
- On the injury front, cornerback Patrick Robinson (concussion) returned to full practice this week. Defensive end Derek Barnett (groin) and cornerback Jalen Mills (ankle) both missed practice time this week. Guard Stefen Wisniewski (ankle) and linebacker Mychal Kendricks (foot) were limited this week.
Time to savor a really gratifying season so far, with an optimistic EYE toward what is yet to come… We have not been without adversity and we’ve lost some key players to injury, but somehow this group inspires itself to rise and conquer the built-in pitfalls of the journey. We may not win it all, but this team gives me that special feeling that it will find a way to win every time out. That’s a unique and uncommon feeling which is a credit to the patience and unwavering attention to detail of the entire organization. The loyal fans who have stuck with this team over decades of ups-and-downs are currently getting the quality product they deserve. What a pleasure to say, for the first time in about 10 years, other teams want to be like us.
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I’m sorry to say one of our best rival writers in this blogosphere is calling it quits after almost 15 years of service given to Redskins Hog Heaven.
Anthony Brown has been a friend of this site and and an NFC East colleague for a very long time, and I was shocked to learn of his retirement from the Redskins site today. What a class act he has been. He is that rare sportswriter who not only tells it like it is about his own team, but doesn’t begrudge another team like the Eagles when they are enjoying a good year. We’ve had some great exchanges of information and opinion over the past decade. I will truly miss him.
Again, to show what a class act Anthony Brown really is, he went out of his way to send me and all Eagles fans here a special Christmas wish for “health, happiness and the ultimate success in the playoffs”.
Best wishes to you too, Anthony. I am indebted to you for all you have taught me.