As Broad & Pattison Turns Week #6: Eagles at Vikings

We all have those days at work where we’re running around like a chicken without a head, pulling our hair out and looking up at the clock, wishing it would end sooner than later.

And then there are days (albeit rare) that go very smoothly, giving us ample time to catch our breath and reflect.

Last Sunday was one of those days for the Eagles.

In a rather relaxed atmosphere that represented a family picnic in the stands (minus the family drama), the Eagles easily disposed of the New York Jets, 31-6, at the Linc. The game was never in doubt, and halfway through the 4th quarter, many had already started to make their way to the parking lots and subway for an early ride home.

Such a scene has been a rarity for this team since their Super Bowl winning season of two years ago, when it seemed they were beating everyone at home without much fanfare or stress.

But such a result should not have been a surprise to anyone. The Jets entered the game with their 3rd string quarterback (Luke Falk) under center, and he was quickly thrown to the wolves in the form of ten sacks by the Eagles defense.

The Jets should get a much better effort going forward, especially with Sam Darnold, their 1st round pick from 2018, returning to action this week against the Dallas Cowboys. And if Darnold is the real deal as an NFL quarterback, the team may have a bright future ahead of them.

But for now, the Jets are in the midst of the football equivalent of “The Great Recession”, with their stock having to rebound greatly before becoming a “buy” for their fans.

Meanwhile, the easy day at work feeling that the Eagles had last Sunday may not be returning till after Thanksgiving, with six consecutive games against winning teams looming.

What makes it even harder is that the next three will be on the road, which makes the Birds the only team in the league to have three consecutive road games this season.

Rumor has it that the schedule makers did that with the expectation that across the street, Citizens Bank Park would be abuzz with 45,000 fans cheering on their team in the NLCS & World Series, especially after all the free agent signings the local baseball team made this past offseason. But as we all know, things didn’t turn out quite as expected (and more on that later).

But the Phillies loss is also the Eagles loss, as they will be facing the Vikings, Cowboys and Bills in consecutive weeks, before coming home to face the Bears, Patriots and Seahawks.

The Vikings are a good team, but not a great one, and their biggest threat will be running back Dalvin Cook. Cook is an evasive runner and stopping him could be the key to getting a win for the Birds.

Philadelphia will be facing a familiar foe in quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was a member of the Washington Redskins from 2012-2017 until he signed with Minnesota before the 2018 season. Cousins is 5-3 in his career against the Eagles, and was the starter for Washington in all sixteen games from 2015-2017.

The Birds will once again be without wide receiver DeSean Jackson, which will hamper their ability to throw downfield. Expect Nelson Agholor and tight end Zach Ertz to get a decent number of balls thrown their way to compensate for the loss of Jackson.

Philadelphia will also continue to be without cornerbacks Ronald Darby & Avonte Maddox. And while their loss did not play a role in the Jets game, it could be a huge factor against Minnesota, who have a great receiving tandem in Adam Thielen & Stefon Diggs.

Along with stopping Dalvin Cook, the difference in this game could come down to whether the Eagles defensive line can put enough pressure on Kirk Cousins so that he doesn’t have ample time to throw to Thielen or Diggs.

This will be a tough game in a hostile environment, and in another dome no less. And while the Eagles will return to the spot where they erased their demons and clinched their first ever championship in the modern era, that will be of no solace to them come kickoff time.

That being said, the Birds are the better team in my opinion, and will come out ahead in a close one, 24-20.

Followed by the Phillies playing in the NLCS. Oh wait…scratch that.

The Last Word:

The Phillies managing partner is a “Middleton”, which might help to explain why the Phillies have finished in the middle of the pack the last two seasons.

Their president is a “MacPhail”, and the team’s mission to get back to the playoffs and World Series has been nothing short of a supersized “MacFail”.

Their general manager is a “Klentak”, which could be a synonym for “can’t draft” in some foreign language.

Put them all together and “Dollar Dog Days” may be the only thing putting fans in the stands next season.

Amit’s Marquee Matchups of the Week (all games on Sunday and in EST unless noted otherwise):

EAGLES at Vikings 1:00 PM FOX

Texans at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS

49ers at Rams 4:05 PM FOX

Lions at Packers 8:15 PM ESPN (Mon)

As Broad & Pattison Turns 2017: The Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports

We are more than two-thirds of the way into 2017, and the “Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports” continues with no definitive end in sight.

The four professional teams that call this city home have been, at best, mediocre, and at worst, downright painful to watch.  But unlike the Great Recession of 2008, none of these teams were deemed “too big to fail”, as evidenced by the fact that they have failed in brilliant fashion as of late.

For evidence of such a sports calamity, one only needs to look at the records of the four teams since 2013.  Nineteen sports seasons completed or close to completion (five each for the Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and four for the Eagles) have resulted in only three winning seasons (two for the Eagles and one for the Flyers).  Three winning seasons out of nineteen makes for a winning percentage of 15.79%, which is a far cry from the mean of 50%.  And for you Flyers fans who may be questioning my math, overtime losses count as losses in my book, not as their own separate category.

Contrast that with a city like Boston who, over the same span of time, has amassed fifteen winning seasons (assuming that the Red Sox can win five more games over the rest of the month), giving them a winning percentage of 78.95%.  Add three championships in that span of five years, and one can see why we’re jealous.

And while the Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports has not resulted in low interest RATES over a prolonged period of time, it has resulted in, simply, low INTEREST over a prolonged period of time, which has teams scrambling to come up with creative ways to get their fans in the stands.

Some, like the Phillies, have figured out that the best way to disguise a bad product on the field is to have enough games that offer either a 1) Bobblehead giveway or 2) Dollar Dog Night.  Not sure why, but the allure of $1 hot dogs at a baseball game is very similar to free peanuts on an airplane.

Speaking from experience, I have a jar of peanuts in my pantry that I haven’t opened in three months.  But when I get on a plane in two weeks to fly out to Kansas City for Eagles- Chiefs, the sight of a 0.5 ounce bag of peanuts being handed out will no doubt have me salivating.

Add to that the various “cultural” nights the Phillies host during the season in this era of cultural diversity and you have marketing at its finest.  Let’s just hope that the “culture” of the Phillies long term rebuilding plan is to have more nights when they score more runs than they actually give up .  Until then, I’m holding out for “Maharashtra” night and a chance to dance on the dugout during the 7th inning stretch with some famous Indian Bollywood actresses.  And the Phillie Phanatic.  Because you can’t be dancing on the dugout without the Phanatic.

Then there are the Sixers, who embarked on the Hinkie “think tank” theory, which stated that if you lose enough, you will draft enough star players to eventually start winning. Problem is, former general manager Sam Hinkie never really stated how LONG one had to lose to accomplish such a feat, and was slowly inching his way to becoming a contestant on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” (for reasons other than the show’s purpose).

The NBA finally came to its’ senses and forced the team to bring in real basketball people to run the team.  But the damage had long been done, and while the team should be improved this year (as long as Joel Embiid can stay healthy), it may take some time to figure out whether there is championship material on the roster.

Meanwhile, the Sixers, in their attempts to actually get fans in the stands, keep reverting back to one of their famous ex-players for appearances at the arena during games.  And while that player brought great excitement and energy to the team for a number of years, his maturity level still remains that of your average fourteen year old, which has caused more consternation than positive feelings as of late.

The Sixers share the Wells Fargo Center with the Flyers, who are also embarked on their own rebuilding project (sense the theme here?).  The team used to spend money on free agent players faster than Donald Trump used to spend money on casinos, and while that did result in winning seasons, a championship continues to elude them.

Part of the reason was that while the Flyers used to spend on skill players, they would never spend on a top-notch goalie, even though that was the main reason they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in the 1970’s.  The team is now using a more traditional, build through the draft method of stocking their team, but much like the Sixers and Phillies, this will take time…and Philadelphia fans understandably don’t have much patience after winning only one sports championship over the last 34 years (Phillies in 2008).

Luckily for the Flyers, they still have a strong, almost cult-like following.  But even your average cult member doesn’t want to sit around forever to watch a mostly average product.

Which brings us to the Eagles, who have been the most successful of the four sports franchises as of late, being the only team to post two winning seasons over the last five years.

Those two consecutive winning seasons came under the Chip Kelly regime in 2013 & 2014.   But by 2015, Chip Kelly had worn out his welcome, both by his relationship with his superiors and his team’s play on the field, and the Birds, much like the other three local teams, were “back to the drawing board” and in rebuilding mode.

But with the 2017 season now upon us, there is a “new hope” that resides with the Eagles. One that may finally end the Great Recession of Philadelphia Sports.  But more on that in my next post….