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….

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2016 Week #14: Eagles vs. Redskins

While the ominous clouds that hovered over Paul Brown Stadium last Sunday foretold of the chilly rain that was to eventually began following the game, it could have easily been a harbinger of things to come for the Eagles.

The Birds reached their low point of the season on Sunday, losing to the Bengals, 32-14, in a game that wasn’t even as close as such a blowout score would indicate.

From the start, the team looked more like they were out to leisurely paddle down the Ohio River in a canoe as opposed to trying to win a football game and possibly saving their season.  At one point in the 3rd quarter, they were down 29-0, before waking up and scoring 14 unanswered points to try and make a game out of it.  But by then, it was too little, too late.

One would think that this was the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980’s that the Eagles were facing.  Or the Patriots team that has won four Super Bowls with Tom Brady & Bill Belichick.  But no, this was the lowly Bengals, a team that entered the game with a record of 3-7-1.  This was the Bengals who haven’t won a playoff game since George H. Bush was President and Madonna’s “Justify My Love” was the #1 song in the country (Jan. 1991).

But being that we have now entered the period between Thanksgiving & Christmas known as the “season of giving”, the Birds defense, and especially their secondary, was in a giving mood all day, giving up chunks of yardage whenever Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton wanted to throw the football.

The loss to the Bengals only brought more questions in a season that has fallen faster than Santa coming down your chimney:

Has quarterback Carson Wentz just hit a rookie wall with no talent around him?  Or is he just not that good?

Is rookie coach Doug Pederson just going through growing pains as a rookie coach?  Or will his hiring be a royal pain in the Eagles side for years to come?

What happened to Jim Schwartz’s defense, which looked so good in the early part of the season?  And why does he refuse to blitz when the pressure, or lack of it, from his front four just isn’t working?

Why was tight end Zach Ertz doing his best impression of ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov instead of blocking Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict when Carson Wentz was trying to scramble for a first down?

Unfortunately, there is nothing under the Eagles proverbial Christmas tree that will likely provide any answers to these and many other pertinent questions that inquiring minds want answered.  For that, we may have to wait till the offseason…and what a cold, empty offseason it may turn out to be.

For a change, the few bright spots that came out of this game were actually from the wide receivers.  Nelson Agholor, who has been fighting demons in his head all season long, actually caught everything that was thrown to him.  Sure, he only caught four passes for 23 yards, but at this point, it’s all about “baby steps” for Agholor.

In addition, undrafted rookie receiver Paul Turner, who only caught everything thrown his way in the preseason, earning him a spot on the team’s practice squad, impressed in his 2nd game, hauling in six catches for 80 yards.  But Turner’s success begs the question… if the guy is catching everything, why did it take an injury to Jordan Matthews to get him on the field?

With December upon us, the Eagles sit two games back of a wild card spot with four games to play in a tight, jumbled race.  To get into the playoffs, they would need to win out, six geese a laying (as in losses from six other teams), two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Much like the commercial, you may get that Lexus RX 350 for Christmas if you ask Santa nicely, but gifting you an Eagles postseason birth may be too difficult even for Old Saint Nick.

This Sunday, the Birds will try to right their ship when they face the Washington Redskins, which, ironically, are one of the six teams that are in front of them in the NFC wild card race.

This team needs a win more than Jill Stein needs a hobby, but it’s hard to determine whether they will actually get it or not.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they came out, played hard and won,  but it also wouldn’t surprise me if they lost out in what has become a frustrating season.

For that reason, I really don’t have a prediction, but for the Eagles sake, hopefully it’s the former.  Otherwise, the faithful in the stands will become much more naughty than nice…

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

Cowboys at Giants 8:30 PM NBC – Game of the Week

Raiders at Chiefs 8:25 PM NBC (Thurs)

Steelers at Bills 1:00 PM CBS

Seahawks at Packers 4:25 PM FOX

Ravens at Patriots 8:30 PM ESPN (Mon)

2016 Week #13: Eagles at Bengals

Last offseason, when Eagles fans were lamenting the winter and looking forward to Phillies spring training and summer days spent down the shore, the NFL schedule makers were hard at work putting together the 2016 NFL schedule.

The “who” and “where” of the schedule had already been decided as soon as the last regular season game of the 2015 season had ended.  But it was the “when” that was yet to be determined.

With the availability of facilities, team requests, and travel dates all needing to be taken into account, there were many permutation combinations that could have taken place to configure the schedule.  And ultimately, the one that was created for your 2016 Philadelphia Eagles seems to be both a blessing and a curse.

A blessing because a team that not many had high hopes for started out the season 3-0.

A blessing because a team that traded its starting quarterback a week before the season commenced ended up starting a rookie at the position who looked poised and beyond his years as he stood in the pocket, giving fans reason to believe that he may replicate the success that rookie quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco before him had experienced (a visit to the conference championship in their rookie season).

A blessing because the Eagles saw an oasis of riches that were possible before them as they stood alone in first place in the NFC East after three weeks.  Perhaps this team, the one that most expected to go 7-9 or 8-8, would surprise everyone and go deep in the playoffs.

But then there were losses to the Lions, Redskins, and Giants…all games where the Eagles fell behind early 14-0 but still had chances to win in the end.

An overtime loss to the Cowboys as well as a Monday night loss to the Packers also followed.  And a Seattle loss in which they were simply overmatched in the 2nd half.

And while there were quality wins over the Falcons and Vikings sprinkled between the losses, suddenly a 3-0 start had turned into 5-6.

Suddenly, the Eagles schedule had become a curse.  A curse, because a 3-0 start was the equivalent of “Fool’s Gold”.  A curse because the oasis of riches that the Eagles and their fans had seen after that Pittsburgh win was nothing more than a mirage.  Whether that mirage was just a longer path to the promise land or a toxic wasteland remains to be seen.

Looking back, the Eagles started off 2-0 by beating two teams (the Browns and Bears) that have won a total of two games between them.  Their third win, a thorough beating of the Pittsburgh Steelers, looked to be a victory against a  possible Super Bowl contender, but the Steelers have shown since then that they are slightly above average at best.

If you told Birds fans back on Labor Day that they would be 5-6 after eleven games, no one would have been surprised.  It’s just how they got there that’s disconcerting.

Turn the order of the Eagles season around and it paints a much different picture.  If the Eagles had started out the season at 2-6 and then reeled off three straight victories to get to where they are now, many would have seen it is a sign that the Eagles are progressing under first year head coach Doug Pederson after an initial “probation” period, involving getting to know him, his system, how he operates, etc.

The positive spin is that the Eagles had chances to win in all of their losses (including Seattle in the first half) .  The negative to all this is that a few of their losses can be pointed directly to their head coach.

If Doug Pederson chooses to kick a field goal against Dallas, that could have been a victory. If he decides to stick with a game plan that is working against a Packers defense that was allowing 37 points a game in its last four contests, the Eagles win that game.  Instead, they only managed to score 13 points.

Perhaps the scary thing about Pederson isn’t that he is another Andy Reid.  Perhaps the scary thing is that he is nowhere close and is overmatched.  That would set the Eagles back even further than all the bad receivers Chip Kelly drafted and good skill players he let go.

Let’s hope for Pederson’s sake and ours, that Doug is simply experiencing growing pains as a first year head coach and will only get better with time.  Let’s hope that his “growing” into his job (along with his quarterback), coupled with good drafts in the next few years means this team can do much better than 7-9 or 8-8 for years to come.

As for this season, there is still time to right the ship.  The good news is that the Birds are only 1.5 games behind the last playoff spot currently held by the Washington Redskins, whom they will play at home next Sunday.  The bad news is that there are four other teams between them and Washington all vying for that wildcard spot, whom the Eagles will have to overtake as well.

The Birds will face, what should be, their easiest opponent out of their five remaining games this Sunday.  Cincinnati is one of eight teams, in my estimation, that is out of the playoff race (if not mathematically, then for all intents and purposes).  The Eagles will face a wounded Bengals team that needs to simply be put out of their misery.  Whether they are good enough to insert the final dagger remains to be seen.

I’m picking the Eagles simply because I’m an Eagles fan.  Well that, and because I’m heading to Cincinnati for the game.

In the best case scenario, the Birds win at 1 PM, and the Redskins and Buccaneers both lose in their late afternoon games, resulting in a HUGE Eagles – Redskins matchup at the Linc next Sunday.

In the worst case scenario, the Eagles lose to the lowly Bengals, the Redskins win at Arizona, and we are better off spending next Sunday being tortured at the mall than tortured watching our Birds.

Let’s hope for the former…Birds win 30-17.  Just don’t ask me why.

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

Cowboys at Vikings 8:25 PM NBC (Thurs) – Game of the Week

Chiefs at Falcons 1:00 PM CBS

Dolphins at Ravens 1:00 PM CBS

Bills at Raiders 4:05 PM CBS

Giants at Steelers 4:25 PM FOX

2016 Week #8: Eagles at Cowboys

Last Sunday’s Eagles game could best be described as one of the strangest, most bizarre games in the team’s history.  Perhaps it was due to the fact that Halloween was only a week away, with both teams handing out turnovers in the 1st half the way that one hands out candy on Halloween night.

First, it was Carson Wentz throwing out some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for the Vikings to snatch up, which put them in perfect position to score the game’s first touchdown at the Eagles two-yard line.  But Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford, wanting to show how much he appreciated his former Eagles teammates, admirably played the role of “Mr. Goodbar”, giving the ball right back to the Birds by throwing his first interception of the year.

The follies continued with a muffed handoff between Wentz and running back Darren Sproles, leading to another turnover, which was immediately followed by Sam Bradford being stripped of the ball and the Eagles recovering, which was followed, a few plays earlier, with another Wentz interception.

If you were keeping track at home (and possibly pulling your hair out all at the same time) that was a total of five (count ’em, FIVE) turnovers within the first ten minutes of the game.  Eventually both teams realized that the “season of giving” is not upon us quite yet and settled down somewhat, registering only three more turnovers (I use the phrase “only three” very loosely) in total the rest of the game in what eventually resulted in a 21-10 Eagles victory.

Amid all the sloppy play, the Eagles returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown courtesy of Josh Huff, resulting in the first time in their history that they’ve accomplished the feat in consecutive games. Now, if only Huff would stop acting like he’s leading the Penn State Blue Band and not end his touchdown runs with a somersault.

Both lines, which struggled mightily against the Redskins the week prior, also redeemed themselves well on Sunday.  The defense was putting constant pressure on Sam Bradford, and the offensive line, including rookie tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, did a very good job against a formidable Vikings defense.  Vaitai, or “Big V”, as he is known, was called for a false start on the Eagles second offensive play of the game, but his name was never heard again, which is actually a good sign when you’re an offensive lineman.

Lost somewhat in all the turnovers was the fact that the Eagles defeated a very good team.  The Vikings were not only the last remaining undefeated team in the league…they are a team that has a Super bowl caliber defense.

It’s hard to decipher what the Birds are at this point.  They’ve beaten two quality teams at home thus far in the Steelers and the Vikings, but their two other wins have come against bad competition in the Browns & the Bears.

The tough schedule they face the next few weeks will be very foretelling about how good this team really is, and this week’s Sunday night contest against the Dallas Cowboys will be HUGE.

Lose, and the Eagles are in a two game hole for the division lead with the Cowboys  having a game in hand.  Win, and they’ll share the same record with the Birds holding the tiebreaker.  An Eagles-Cowboys game is always big no matter the record, but with so much at stake so early in the season, it doesn’t get much better than that.

With Halloween the following night, this game should be a “Thriller”, unlike last Sunday’s turnover fest, which had many quoting John Lennon, “Nobody told me there’d be days like these…strange days indeed”.

As for the outcome, I went out on a limb last week and picked the Eagles to win 23-9, which wasn’t too far off from the final score of 21-10.  But this week seems much harder to predict.

Unlike the Vikings, the Cowboys strength is not their defense, but their offense, and their offensive line is stacked and will be much harder to deal with then the Vikings were.

The Cowboys have not lost since Week 1 against the Giants so perhaps they are due?  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is what I’m banking on – Birds win 28-21.  Buckle your seat belts for Sunday night…’cause no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike…

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

Patriots at Bills 1:00 PM CBS – Game of the Week

Lions at Texans 1:00 PM FOX

Packers at Falcons 4:25 PM FOX

EAGLES at Cowboys 8:30 PM NBC

The Last Word  – It’s good to see that this year’s World Series winner will be one who’s fans have been starving for a championship for quite some time (The Cubs haven’t won since 1908 & the Indians since 1948).

But while the Cubs seem to be everyone’s darlings this year, I hope that the Indians can pull it out.  They are a small market team with a small market payroll, yet they built a team basically with platoon players who seem to be put in the right situations to succeed.

While there are no guarantees, the Cubs should be in the mix for the next few years.  The Indians – not so certain of that.  After years of futility, I’d like to see Cleveland experience it’s 2nd championship of 2016.

 

2016 Week #3: Eagles vs. Steelers

Repeat after me – A 2-0 start does not a season make.

A 2-0 start does not guarantee a winning season.

A 2-0 start does not guarantee a playoff berth.

It is still possible for the Eagles, after beating up on two bad teams, to lose the rest of their games against better competition and end up 2-14.  And while that is highly unlikely, the Birds did start out 3-1 in 2012, only to end up 4-12 at the end of Andy Reid’s last season.

I say that not to dampen the spirits of those who are yearning for winning in this town, as this team, and the situation that they find themselves in, is quite different than the one in 2012.  Only that while we are downright “giddy” after two weeks of football, there is still a long season that remains ahead with much tougher competition on the horizon.

With five minutes left in the 3rd quarter, on what was a beautiful and practically balmy Monday night with kickoff temps still in the 80’s (unheard of for a September Chicago night), I sat in my seat in the “spaceship” known as Soldier field with teeth clenched, watching the Birds precariously hold on to a  9-7 lead and wondering if that would be enough to hold off the Bears in their home opener.

And while nine points did not prove to be enough, the Eagles scored three touchdowns to effectively put the game away and send the Bears fans home early with ten minutes still left in the game.  No matter how nice the weather, the play of Jay Cutler, coupled with a worknight/schoolnight for most Bears fans, was not enough to keep them in their seats when their hometown team was down by 22 points.

As for the Birds, they couldn’t have asked for a better start after two games in Doug Pederson’s inaugural coaching season.  But this season will not continue to be all “roses and rainbows” for young quarterback Carson Wentz, and their undoubtedly will be a game or two where he looks up at the home crowd to hear nothing but the bellowing of the famous Philadelphia “BOOOOOOO” and thinks to himself “Toto, I don’t think we’re in North Dakota anymore”.

Let’s hope that happens later than sooner, but the first real test for this team will come this Sunday in the form of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While not quite cross state rivals due to playing in different conferences, the Steelers present a huge challenge for the Birds, as many have them slated to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.  Pittsburgh still has “Big Ben” Roethlisberger  at quarterback, and with receiver Antonio Bryant as his top wide receiver, the Eagles secondary will have their hands full.

The defensive line would do well to pressure Big Ben, but even then, Roethlisberger has the ability to sidestep the rush and throw the ball downfield.

The Eagles will play a very competitive game and keep it close, in what should be a raucous crowd at the Linc.  I wouldn’t be surprised in the outcome either way, but while my head tells me the Steelers are definitely the better team, my heart tells me that the Birds will find a way to pull it out.

Birds win 23-20 in a nail biter where the fans make all the difference….

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

Texans at Patriots 8:25 PM CBS/NFL Network (Thurs)

Broncos at Bengals 1:00 PM CBS (Game of the Week)

Vikings at Panthers 1:00 PM FOX

Steelers at Eagles 4:25 PM CBS

Jets at Chiefs 4:25 PM CBS

2016 Week #1: Eagles vs. Browns

Last week at this time, the plan was for Carson Wentz to practice riding his bike, complete with training wheels, in the school parking lot, while all the other kids would be riding over the river and through the woods to the playground to hang out with the “big boys”.

Fast forward to the present and much has changed since then.  The trade that sent last year’s starting quarteback, Sam Bradford, to the Vikings, elevated Wentz’s status from “watch and learn” to “learn under fire”.  But how did he get to this point so quickly?

My initial reaction after the Bradford trade was that the Eagles were recreating their own Broadway play titled “1999”, with the following cast of characters:

1) Coach Doug Pederson starring as first-year head coach Andy Reid.  “Big Red”, as you may recall, was not really anyone else’s first choice to become a head coach (sound familiar Doug Pederson?).

2) Quarterback Chase Daniel starring as Eagles starting quarterback Doug Pederson (yes, the same guy who is now our head coach), who was the Eagles quarterback to start the 1999 season, and was expected to be the ‘placeholder’ for the position till Donovan McNabb was deemed ready for primetime.

3) Rookie Carson Wentz starring as first-round draft pick (and #2 overall pick) Donovan McNabb, which is exactly where Wentz was drafted as well.

If you didn’t think things could get even more weird, Prince, who sang the hit song “1999”, was a Minnesota native, which is where Sam Bradford was traded to.      .

Eagles fans, while voicing mixed reviews (since no one really knows how the ending will turn out) expressed disappointment that the play did not bring back 1) $30 seats in the 700-level, 2) “Sign-man” and 3) Judge Seamus McCaffery and his famous “Eagles court”.

The trade of Bradford to Minnesota explains Wentz moving up at least one spot in the pecking order from a third-string QB to the backup.  But one week ago, Wentz was a rookie who had two quarters of NFL preseason playing experience and three games of being injured.  All the talk was about the rookie sitting, learning, and healing.  How did Wentz go from #3 to #1 in such a short span of time?

In the Eagles ideal world, they would have probably preferred to have Chase Daniel start the season and Wentz be the backup, so that they would be “quarterbacking like it’s 1999”. The problem in all of this was that Daniel did nothing to inspire confidence among the brass that he could actually run the offense with any consistency, struggling in the preseason against backups and third-stringers.

The Eagles will try to word this as if to heap praise on rookie Wentz for his football acumen, since the alternative is to admit that signing Daniel as the backup (for $7 million no less) might just have been a really BAD idea.

While no one is saying so publicly, if Carson Wentz gets hurt again and Daniel (the former Chiefs backup) has to play for any extended period of time, Chase may end up getting “chased” out of town and Eagles fans may take up sewing and basket weaving as hobbies to kill time on what could become a series of dismal Sunday fall afternoons.

The best hope for Eagles fans is that the rookie gets brought along slowly while the running game, defense, and special teams keep them in games, especially at the start of the season.

The schedule makers made things easy on the Birds for the opener, giving them the Cleveland Browns at home.  The Browns have been the “mistake by the lake” since their return to the NFL in 1999, compiling only two winning seasons, one playoff appearance, and zero playoff wins in that span.

In continuing the ironies from above, it was the Browns who had the rights to the 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft and could have drafted Carson Wentz.  Instead, they traded his rights to the Eagles for a plethora of draft picks.

It was also the Browns who had the 1st overall draft pick in 1999 and could have spent it on Donovan McNabb. Instead, they chose to draft Tim Couch, who ended up spending more time watching football on the couch than on the field.

The moral of the story?  Always do the opposite of what the Cleveland Browns will do.

The Eagles have a great opportunity to start the season on the right foot.  They would do well to get off to an early lead, as a first half deficit against a bad team will surely have the natives restless and howling, which would not bode well for young Carson’s confidence.

Birds win the opener and Carson does okay, which is all we can ask at this point.

The Last Word:

What I’m looking forward to, more than anything else, while sitting at my seat at the Linc this upcoming Sunday, is the standing ovation that young Carson Wentz will receive the first time he heads onto the field to lead the offense.

Unlike Kevin Kolb, Nick Foles, and Sam Bradford before him, let’s hope his name is one we hear for years to come in an Eagles uniform.   If not, the period from 201o to 2019 could well be remembered as a “lost decade” for Eagles fans…and another decade without a championship.

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

Panthers at Broncos 8:30 PM NBC (Thurs) – Game of the Week

Bengals at Jets 1:00 PM CBS

Patriots at Cardinals 8:30 PM NBC

Steelers at Redskins 7:10 PM ESPN (Mon)

The 2016 Eagles: 1st Down & Wentz

In 1989, the Minnesota Vikings, feeling that a legitimate running back threat was the only thing preventing them from making a serious Super Bowl run, traded for then Cowboys running back Hershel Walker, in what was considered a blockbuster deal at that time.

That trade eventually netted the Cowboys three first round and three second-round picks (including first-round pick Emmitt Smith) who, along with quarterback Troy Aikman and wide receiver Michael Irvin, ended up being the catalyst for their turnaround from doormat of the NFL to Super Bowl champion three times in a four year-span.

Meanwhile, the Vikings never saw the desired result they expected from acquiring an all-pro running back.  While they won the division that season, they were thumped by the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional playoff round and never made it back to the playoffs the following two years with Hershel Walker on their roster.

Hershel was eventually released and ended up signing with the Eagles in 1992, and the Minnesota trade was largely seen by many as a fleecing of the Vikings organization.

If all goes exactly as the Eagles hope, yesterday’s trade of quarterback Sam Bradford could end up being the “Fleecing of the Vikings #2”.

In a unprecedented move that saw a NFL team trade away their starting quarterback with only a week to go till the start of the regular season, the Bradford trade was the finality to a culmination of events that started with the devastating season ending injury suffered by Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at practice last Tuesday.

The Vikings, once again hoping to go deep in the playoffs much like in 1989, were left with backup Shaun Hill at quarterback to lead them there.  Add to that the fact that they are opening a brand new stadium and starting the season at quarterback with the journeyman Hill would have been the equivalent of having your wedding at the Four Seasons or the Ritz Carlton and serving 1) Peanut butter and jelly and 2) Grilled cheese sandwiches as the main course.

It was pure luck that the Eagles were able to trade Sam Bradford to Minnesota because of the injury.  But it was skill on General Manager Howie Roseman’s part to not only receive a 1st round pick back as compensation, but an additional 2018 pick as well that will be no worse than a 4th rounder.

With the Bradford trade, Howie has, in true “Back to the Future” style, undone all of the bad moves that former coach Chip Kelly initiated last year (perhaps we should just refer to Howie as “Marty McFly”?).  Gone are DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso, and now Bradford…all Chip Kelly moves that didn’t turn out to achieve the desired results.

Normally, the trading of your starting quarterback this late in the year would mean that a team is  “punting” away the season and looking to the future.  But upon further review, I don’t think this reduces the expectations for your 2016 Eagles at all.

For starters, the expectations were not that high to began with even with Bradford at quarterback.  The guy is essentially a glorified game manager and not the second coming of Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, which is what one would expect out of a former number one overall draft pick.  The Eagles would have been fortunate to get  eight or nine wins even if they kept him.

The question is, how much does playing an inexperienced Carson Wentz at quarterback, who has a huge upside, versus an experienced, veteran quarterback who is slightly above average at best with no upside, really hurt you?  We already knew that the defense and the special teams of the 2016 Eagles were much stronger than the offense, and nothing about the Bradford trade changes that.

Wentz will naturally make some rookie mistakes early on that Bradford would not, but by the 2nd half of the season, he may be making the plays that Bradford will never make (this is assuming, of course, that he is healthy enough to play).

There are a few other reasons that I am glad to see Sam Bradford go as well:

  1. He never really wanted to be here this season anyway.
  2. I’ll stop thinking that Keanu Reeves is playing for the Eagles.
  3. That “deer in the headlights” look that he has at his postgame news conference be it win, lose, or draw.
  4. His inability to throw the ball down the field.

On the long-term, getting the ball rolling with rookie Carson Wentz at the helm sooner than later is the best thing this team could do.  And in a weak division, it would not surprise me if they won the division anyway.

Broad & Pattison turned on its heels once this trade was announced.  Hopefully, the 2016 season will turn for the better with it as well.