Note: Football is a physical sport, and injuries happen. I say that as a man who’s shaken off his share of them. So understand that none of what you will read here is said lightly, or said by a man who has not done these things himself.
WE need to make our opponents fear us, based on how ferociously we play the game. Let me say that I’m not advocating purposely injuring anybody (during a football game). I am not now, nor will I ever do that. What I will always advocate, is playing like you aren’t afraid to hurt somebody or hurt yourself. “Go full tilt” is what I’m saying. Don’t grasp at a tackle, run all the way through it. When you latch on during a block, throw your man on the ground as often as your body will let you.
The NFL has gotten to the point where they want to hand out fines and suspensions like candy. So the fuck what. Hit ’em anyway. There is no substitute for making a grown man genuinely afraid of what you’re about to do to him. WR’s will “alligator arm” balls. QB’s will slide 4 yards short of the first down. RB’s will curl away from contact instead of gearing into it. Defenders will sacrifice a shoulder instead of facing a blocker head-on. When you see these things understand that what you are seeing, is Fear.
So we hit. We unload. Sure that means eating flags, fines and suspensions. It means refs will start looking for “dirty” players, and finding fault with more or our stops. I hear you ask: “But won’t that cost us the benefit of the doubt?” Really? Boo fuckin’ hoo.
7-9 and then 7-9. Tons of penalties in each of those years, without any payoff for it. Right? Where was the benefit of the doubt then? So, fuck the benefit of the doubt. Losing it didn’t seem to hurt the Legion of Boom, did it? Did it? You’ll have to speak up. I can’t hear you over the sound of their recent playoff and Super Bowl glory.
Speaking as someone who’s played the villain, let me tell you how liberating it is to do your job without worrying what the zebras think of you. Let me tell you how effective it makes you, when your opponent realizes that he doesn’t have a flimsy, fake, and made-up layer of protection to hide behind. It becomes all too real, when they realize that that yellow flag is just fabric. Flags don’t heal fractured clavicles, and fifteen yards is poor consolation for 5 months of rehab. It’s one thing to know that you can be injured on any given play. It’s quite another to look across the line at me, and wonder “Oh God, is this the down?” I shit you not, there were times when cats didn’t even realize the ball was snapped. (And yes, that IS me bragging.)
Fear is an AMAZING ally. It’s powerful. It breaks opponents down from the inside, and is nearly impossible to overcome once it does. That being said, Fear as an ally doesn’t come cheaply. You have to earn Fear, and to do so you must play with flagrant disregard for both the safety of yourself and your opponent. It has to be equal. You have to be willing to get as good as you’re willing to give. Most men don’t generate genuine Fear, because they are unwilling to enter into this bargain.
Be honest Eagles fans, it’s been a while since we had an Eagles defender who could be referred to as scary. I didn’t say “scary”, I said scary. Did you catch that difference? There’s a million miles of distance between the two.
It would change the texture of this team and this entire division, if the Eagles could make Fear our ally. So tell defenders to hit with everything in them. Tell offensive players to block through the whistle. Tell our CB’s to drive opposing WR’s out of bounds early in their routes. Pop opposing TE’s as they come out of their stances. At the end of the year, the RB should buy a car for the Offensive Lineman with the most pancake blocks.
In the late 1980’s – early 1990’s, teams dreaded seeing us on their schedule, because back then Fear was our ally. We need to get back to that. We need to earn that again.