SO I go down to my favorite bar, hoping to have a talk with the Mickey Goldmill of football, my friend Rhodie, about what went wrong this year. No sooner than I walk through the door, Danny is up and ushering me to the back. “Where the hell have you been?” he asks me.
Rhodie is not on his perch at the bar. A sick feeling hits my gut, and in a flash I wish I’d stayed home. My first thought is that something happened to Rhodie, and that the bar wants to break it to me gently. Instead, seated at a table like some guest, is Rhodie. He doesn’t say hello, he just points to the chair. Grateful that the old fuck is still with us (still with me), I sat my ass down.
“They could still go 10-6” he cackles. “That what you want?”
I could have been smug about basic math and said that 10-6 or 9-7 is better than the 7-9 he predicted. Except that if you don’t make the playoffs, 10-6 or 9-7 isn’t better than 7-9. It’s worse. It’s a lower pick in every round. We screwed ourselves as badly as we could have this year. So I didn’t get all smug about how 9 or 10 wins is more than 7. Truth to tell, in this situation he was right, we would have been lucky to go 7-9. Total case of irony.
So I sat and waited to learn something from someone who had CLEARLY demonstrated (yet again) that he knows more than all of us. Or at least knows something we don’t. I turned on the recorder as he wiped his tongue with his napkin and raise his glass in a silent toast.
“What do you think of the Defense? Don’t bother. I get to read what you write on ######’s computer when he brings it in. You think it’s the scheme, but I think it’s that we don’t have any tough guys. And when (DeMeco) Ryans went out, it only got worse.”
I asked him if it was the Defense that he pinned this collapse on, and not Mark Sanchez.
He chuckled. “What you’re really askin’ me is, if I agree with you. Like I said, I read what you write. So relax. The answer is, yeah I agree with you. When you can score like the EAGLES do and still miss the playoffs, that ain’t nobody but the Defense. Look, you know a lot more about schemes and crap than I do, but I know football, and these EAGLES are missing a ticker. Who’s the heart and soul of that Defense? Nobody that’s who.”
I asked him what he thought about Nick Foles. That discussion became a whole other article. Or two, depending on how I split it. I’ll just sum up and say that compared to Rhodie, I look like a Foles cheerleader.
I mentioned that I still don’t think Chip Kelly is leveling with the fans, and at that point Rhodie hooted and asked what I was drinking. I said I wanted a Cosmo and he responded with “Are you fuckin’ serious?” I was. I wanted a Cosmo. So I got a Cosmo. Then I asked him where he thought it all came apart. I drank while he talked.
“He’s in over his head. Last year he was good against shit teams. This year he’s good against shit teams. Last year was10-6 with a playoff loss, this year is 9 wins and no playoffs. That look like progress to you? And this arrogant prick don’t think he needs to change nothin’! He insists on running a pro team like a college one. I told you how 2013 would go. I told you how this year would go.”
“Here’s the thing. Kelly wasn’t a great finisher in college and now he can’t finish in the pros. He doesn’t build sound offensive players, just guys who play well in that style he coaches. His deal is, don’t worry about the Defense, just outscore the other guy. Don’t worry if players are tired, just keep going fast. Don’t worry about tryin’ to coach players to understand the game, just make sure they understand their assignment at that moment. (Jeff) Lurie replaced the EAGLES all-time winningest coach with an imposter. He traded in a workhorse for a show pony. A show That’s what the EAGLES have become now. Just a good show. Now we gotta watch that fa***t Cowboys team parade around like they did something, besides watch us collapse. They didn’t win the division, we dropped it on the ground and walked away from it. You ask me why we came apart?! You ask me?! I coulda told you in the fall.” (He did in the summer actually) “We didn’t come apart. We were never together. This guy is (Joe) Kuharich all over again.” Then he yelled for the Primo’s menu.
I ordered a Big T Diablo (a whole on a Sarcone’s roll), and resolved to take a much closer look at the 2014 season than I did the 2013 season. Just a total deconstruction, start to finish. Break it down by the first round of Free Agency, and bounce it off my readers as I go, to see what you have to say about it.
And I’ll of course bounce it off of Rhodie too.