Have We Become Soft?

The Eagles are a horrific mess—so why aren’t fans more upset?

The Eagles will get their participation trophies next Sunday as rewards for their surreal roles in the 2015 NFL season. Then, they will sag out of town after another year away from the playoffs and hope for better things in 2016. Meanwhile, Maximum Leader and the B Movie Producer will spin a horrific result into a bright future, hoping the merchandise will continue to fly off the shelves and that fans will continue to suspend their disbelief as their favorite team dissolves further into a puddle of toxic waste.

El Hombre has already made his feelings about the Eagles’ leadership quite clear in this space. Owner Jeffrey Lurie made a huge mistake in hiring Chip Kelly as his coach and a bigger blunder giving him complete control of the personnel decisions for the franchise. It’s highly likely Kelly will be back for another disaster next season, removing the franchise further from serious contention. By the time Lurie makes the decision to hire an NFL man to run his team, the Eagles will be a substantial reclamation project, and the overriding theme for the rest of the decade will be patience.

The amazing thing about all of this is how the fans have behaved Rather than demonstrating the outrage that has characterized previous reactions to gridiron disappointments, there has been little anger directed at those responsible for the debacle. Worse, there remains a sizeable camp with members who believe Kelly’s “program” will work, even though the past two seasons have proven that the league has solved his high-speed, simplistic offense, and that his ability to choose top-shelf NFL personnel is extremely suspect.

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When Andy Reid’s teams were reaching the playoffs but not delivering a Super Bowl title, there was a fury among the fans that they had been cheated out of what they deserved. If someone pointed out that fans in Detroit, Cleveland or Oakland would love to have a couple playoff games to watch, those for whom the Lombardi Trophy was the only way to measure success shouted him down. The Birds’ 6-9 record and inability to win a fetid division should be sparking a region-wide wrath. Instead, fans seem resigned to their team’s descent from the NFL elite and are unwilling to do anything to affect change.

Maybe we’ve become soft. After all, there are a bunch of fans who think Sam Hinkie knows what he’s doing with the Sixers. The Phillies are in full rebuild mode after the Ruben Amaro reign of error, so any prosperity from that corner is years away. It’s beginning to feel like the early ’70s around here, when every team was so bad that fans expected failure and were unable to muster the necessary outrage to let franchise owners know they’d better fix things quickly.

Instead of bombarding the Eagles’ offices with angry e-mails, letters and calls, demanding improvement, the fans will simply hope for an improvement, even though the current regime has little chance of providing it. They’ll deal in what-ifs and could-have-beens, conveniently looking past the fact that this is a bad football team, entirely deserving of its poor record. They will keep buying jerseys and coming back for more, even if that “more” is another season of inept management and poor gameplanning.

After next week’s exhibition game in Jersey, Lurie and Kelly will offer their excuses for the rotten season. Each will take responsibility, but neither will change. Lurie won’t go looking for another coach, and Kelly won’t realize that a collegiate approach to his job isn’t capable of producing NFL success.

As a result, 2016 will bring more of the same—or worse, particularly if Kelly does something truly ridiculous like signing Robert Griffin III to be his quarterback. Meanwhile, Philadelphia remains hostage to a team unable to move forward.

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EL HOMBRE SEZ: So, it took Jerry Colangelo to convince Sixers GM Sam Hinkie that alienating agents and letting rookies run amok were bad ideas. What does it say about an NBA exec who couldn’t figure out things so basic? At least the franchise value keeps growing. … Temple deserves credit for a great season, even if it ended with two straight losses. But the Owls need to get more productive on offense, especially along the line, and QB P.J. Walker’s senior season must include more consistency.

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