Every Eagles season for the past four of five seasons has seemed to go the same way.
The team starts strong and immediately appears to be a contender in the NFC. Then the Eagles lose a couple of games in a row or go through a quick slump and everybody doubts the team. Throw in a big injury or two as well. But the Eagles always finish the season on a high note. Going into the postseason, everybody has the Eagles as their sleeper Super Bowl pick. And then the season ends with another disappointing postseason loss.
2010 was no exception to the club.
The Eagles started strong, winning four of their first six games, including a convincing win over the powerful Atlanta Falcons. Then they suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Tennessee Titans, in which the defense completely fell apart and coordinator Sean McDermott’s job was said to be in jeopardy.
The Birds rebounded and won a bunch of convincing games, including a 59-28 blowout of the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, and a 38-31 epic comeback win against the New York Giants.
Heading into the postseason, a lot of people, including myself, said that the winner of the Eagles-Packers wild-card game would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately it was the Packers who defeated the Eagles, advanced to Super Bowl XLV, and brought home the fourth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
In the wild-card game, the Eagles allowed little-used no-name running back James Starks to run all over their defense for 123 yards on 23 carries. Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns without throwing an interception.
And Michael Vick, despite throwing a touchdown and rushing for a second score, was heavily pressured all day. The Packers used cornerback Charles Woodson to blitz and slow down the dangerous Eagles’ quarterback. Vick was sacked three times and took a beating all game.
DeSean Jackson injured his foot in the first quarter and missed almost a full quarter. He caught just two passes for 47 yards during the game, and probably would have broken free for a dramatic game-winning 66-yard touchdown in the final minute if not for his injured foot (linebacker Desmond Bishop made a shoestring tackle of Jackson after a 28-yard gain).
In the closing seconds of the game, Vick forced a pass into the end zone to fourth receiver Riley Cooper. The pass was intercepted by cornerback Tramon Williams, clinching a victory for the Packers and ending the Eagles’ season without a championship for the 50th straight season.
The Eagles lost 21-16. A few weeks after the game, it was revealed that kicker David Akers played the game with a heavy heart, knowing that his six-year old daughter might have cancer. Akers missed two field goals during the game. Had he made just one of the two, the Eagles would have been in prime position for a walkoff field goal on the final drive instead of needing a touchdown.
Rumors have speculated that head coach Andy Reid is in danger of losing his job. After all, Reid has coached for 12 seasons now without winning a Super Bowl. He’s led the Eagles into the postseason nine times, won six division titles, appeared in five conference championship games and one Super Bowl, but he hasn’t brought a Super Bowl title home to Philadelphia.
In my opinion, the Eagles need to show significant change in 2011. They need to win 12 games, or allow 50 points fewer on defense. If nothing changes, and the season ends in a wild-card loss for the third straight season, Reid may be gone.