After Stephen Means blocked Chris Jones’ punt late in the Eagles’ meaningless season-ending victory over Mark Sanchez and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys JV, Fox TV commentator John Lynch talked about how the triumph could help build momentum for the 2017 campaign. That was absolutely untrue, because if one season’s performance influenced the next, Carolina would be readying another Super Bowl run, rather than wallowing in the NFL’s mire. The Eagles’ win was nothing more than a mildly satisfying way to conclude a frustrating season, and their 2017 fortunes will rest on a variety of factors that are completely unrelated to beating the Cowboys.
Part of the problem of the 24/7 news cycle is that outlets need content, and in order to fill the time, they focus on things that have little to do with winning. Selfish individual performances are lionized. Meaningless melodramas are highlighted. Fake storylines are concocted. The result is a collection of fans largely uneducated about what is truly important: winning.
If the Eagles are going to make the playoffs next year, it will be because QB Carson Wentz continues his development, coach Doug Pederson becomes more consistent with his game planning – and in-game decisions – and GM Howie Roseman defies his track record to deliver the kind of playmakers on both sides of the ball that were sorely lacking this season.
As El Hombre concluded another spectacular season of pre-game analysis on 97.5 The Fanatic this year with fellow Dream Teamers Devon Givens and Brian Westbrook, we reviewed the Eagles’ near misses. The Ryan Matthews fumble against Detroit, Pederson’s gaffes against Dallas, the incomplete pass on the last play against the Giants and the blown two-point conversion try in the loss to Baltimore were just a few. The reasoning went that if only the Eagles had been able to convert in those situations, they would be in the playoffs.
But they didn’t, and that’s the important thing to remember about this team and every other one. It matters not one bit what might have happened. Statistics are meaningless. It’s completely about wins and losses, and the Eagles had too few of the former and too many of the latter this season. It was nice to watch Wentz’s development and dream about his leading the team to big things in the future, but this year’s team lacked the type of talent that produced enough victories to reach the post-season. Period.
Anybody who is happy with this year should start buying tickets to Sam Hinkie’s lecture series. Teams trying to lose or taking intentional steps backward to “win later on” are wasting time – and fans’ money. The Phillies have made it clear they don’t expect to contend this season, yet they are still charging full price for tickets. For all the excitement about Joel Embiid, the Sixers are battling Brooklyn to be the worst team in the NBA, again.
Anybody who has watched Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and their Villanova basketball mates this season can see the difference between winners and everybody else. When big plays are needed, someone on that roster, usually Hart, makes them. The Wildcats were 38-3 during calendar year 2016 and amassed the most wins over Division I teams in NCAA hoops history. There are no lottery picks on the roster. And though this is a talented bunch, it’s not filled with big-time, five-star recruits. Only sophomore guard Jalen Brunson fits that description. But the ‘Cats play together and capitalize on opportunities to win. That’s the test of success. Philadelphia fans should demand management of local teams collect those kinds of players, the better to avoid the pileup of rotten seasons we have endured lately and to eliminate the need for moral victories and participation trophies.
The win over Dallas means nothing. It’s time for the Eagles to start playing in – and winning – some games that do.
EL HOMBRE SEZ: Cardinal O’Hara’s girls basketball team may have a 3-2 record, but its two losses came to powerhouses from California and D.C. The Lions remain the area’s top team and are well positioned to avenge last year’s state final loss. Stay tuned for what should be a very interesting season.