I’M looking forward to this season. I can hardly wait for it. I don’t have sky-high expectations, but I do expect it to be entertaining. Most of that entertainment will come in the form of watching our team be reborn. Learning who they wish to be, and ultimately, who they will be.
Go back with me to 1989, when the Eagles were coached by Buddy Ryan. We featured a man-eating Defense led by defenders like Reggie White and Jerome Brown. Our Offense, plagued by horrible Offensive Line play, still had the ability to be absolutely explosive behind the play of the NFL’s most dynamic QB, Randall Cunningham. It was clear however, that we were a defensive team.
Under Ryan’s replacement Rich Kotite, the Defense wasn’t as ferocious, but with guys like Andy Harmon and William Thomas,we still had a unit that could keep our team in games. That was a good thing, because on Offense the Eagles were an extremely snake-bitten team. Over a 4 year span, keeping QB’s healthy seemed to be a real challenge. With the addition of RB Hershel Walker, we became a more offensively stable team. Despite having an offensively minded coach, due to the up and down QB play, we were still a defensive ball club.
After Kotite we got Ray Rhodes. We hemorrhaged talent on Defense, and on Offense aside from replacing Walker with RB Ricky Watters, we did little to add any firepower to the NFL’s first “run-based” West Coast Offense. As a result the Eagles were a little bit worse each year under Rhodes. By the time Rhodes was fired, the way he talked was the only thing tough about the team. We had no identity and were floundering badly.
Then, in walks Andy Reid. Pegged as an offensive coach, what he actually was, was a QB coach and his development of QB Donovan McNabb helped lead to the greatest era in Eagles football. (So far.) Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson was tapped to produce a Defense that could keep the team in ball games. The Offense thrived on being smart with the football and not turning it over. Meanwhile the Defense seemed to blitz on every down and that forced opponents into making stupid mistakes. While the Eagles got the reputation for being an offensive team, the Eagles foundation began to immediately crumble after J.J.’s death in 2009. After the death of Andy’s son Garrett precipitated a 4-12 season n 2012, the Eagles let him go.
So then we replaced our all-time winningest coach with an idiot. He was an offensive minded coach who inherited an offensive roster, which came complete with not just talent, but also depth. So of course he spent three years whittling that down to a nub. Defensively we were awesome as long as it wasn’t November yet. By then the wear and tear of each season was apparent on that side of the ball. Mostly due to the coach not being willing to play ball-control on Offense and give the Defense a breather here and there.
Today we have a rookie Head Coach in Doug Pederson. No one, (even he) knows quite how the NFL will shape him, now that he gets to sit in the Big Chair. We will all go through his evolution together. Through him our team is about to be reborn, and we get to see and celebrate that. We get to ride shotgun and watch the history of our beloved team unfold. Expect an exciting ride in 2016, beloved fellow fans.
And I for one, can hardly wait.