THE players have returned. I watch QB Jalen Hurts joke and pal around with the fellas. Player’s children run across the field, carrying footballs. Bubble wrap appears on a helmet. All of this just SO cute! And I don’t give a damn about any of it. Because bitterness is all that I can taste.
We lost a playoff game. On national television. In humiliating fashion. Our QB was exposed for reading defenses as well as a JUGGS machine. Our Defense was as well-carved as any Thanksgiving bird to ever grace my table. Sadly, that was my last taste of real football. I’ve been walking around with this taste, this distaste, in my mouth, since Sunday January 16th.
I tried to cleanse it with some NFL games rebroadcast on NFL Network. I tried to banish it with the upstart USFL. I even sampled Canadian, hoping that a different flavor might distract me. But this taste. I can’t get this taste out of my mouth. I can’t make this go away, until I finally can get what I crave. What I need.
I need Eagles football.
I haven’t written about Training Camp yet, because it hasn’t started yet. It’s still early. Guys are running around in shorts and no pads, and that’s necessary. Trust me, I get that. It’s Level Two conditioning. I only played semi-pro, but from high school on up, some things about football are universal. Level One conditioning you do on your own, but L2 introduces competition: Are you better than him, and him, and him, and him? Can you get better? SHOW US!!!
Football however… Real football, doesn’t start until the hitting does. It’s easy for athletes to be tough guys in shorts, but repeatedly getting hit in 90 degree weather, with a fiberglass oven on your head… Not every man is built for that. I can remember showing up to camps in May, and seeing 120 – 150 guys. Each thinking he was NFL bound! Then the grind would start. By early September there’d be just 40 to 45 guys left. One of which would be me.
But the Eagles.
All the improvements we’ve supposedly made… To be honest, to this point I’m not seeing them. For instance, the offseason footwork program that Hurts went through in California. I was hoping to see him committing it to muscle memory, but he still bounces after his drops, and doesn’t consistently step into his passes, leading to this
I mentioned this back in May and so far, it looks the same. As I said, it’s early. (But I’d still like to see improvement from May.)
Aside from the hitting, I’m waiting for Friday, August 12th. In what should be a vanilla preseason game, I’m hoping to see improvement in the Eagles habits:
I want to see how often Hurts get the ball out, as his drop ends.
I want to see the Defense give up fewer 8 to 10 yard completions, inside the numbers.
I want to see a LB’s cover a TE for three seconds.
I want to see RB Kenneth Gainwell finish runs by falling forward.
I don’t need to see a ton, but I need to see something. Just a little something to tell me that 2022 will be different. And to help me to finally, begin to get this taste, out of my mouth.