Before I begin to revel in today’s win and the current state of the Eagles, I want to flash back to two years ago today.
November 27, 2012. The Eagles had just lost a close game on Monday Night football the previous night to the Carolina Panthers. It was their 8th straight loss that dropped them to 3-9 on the season.
Michael Vick had been knocked out two weeks prior with a concussion and Nick Foles was struggling as a rookie. LeSean McCoy was out with a concussion as well and DeSean Jackson was injured in the Carolina game. The Eagles offensive line at this time? King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Dallas Reynolds, Danny Watkins, Dennis Kelly. The secondary? Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman.
The 2012 season started with promise and Vick was talking about leading this team to a Super Bowl. By November 27, Eagles fans had to will themselves out of bed every morning, dreading the fact we could no longer enjoy Eagles football, and knowing we were watching the Andy Reid era come to a sad, melancholy, all-around depressing conclusion. Each and every day was a struggle, and there was a hole in my heart watching my beloved team go through this.
Now that we’ve relived that nightmare for a brief second, lets fast forward two years to right now.
The Eagles entered a battle for first place in the division with Dallas. The defense backed up their trash talk from the week and shut down a Cowboys offense that was supposed to dominate. The Eagles offense, led by head coach Chip Kelly and Foles’ backup Mark Sanchez, put on a clinic and scored enough points to win halfway through the first quarter. There’s a dozen other ways to describe what happened in Dallas today, but I’ll just leave it at the Eagles absolutely dominated to take over first place in the NFC East. It’s fitting that the 2014 Eagles’ signature win came on Thanksgiving Day. On the heels of reliving the 2012 nightmare, let’s reflect on what there is to be thankful for.
I’m thankful for Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Trent Cole, Mychal Kendricks, and even though he’s hurt right now, DeMeco Ryans, for surviving the 2012 nightmare and refusing to accept a losing culture; for committing to playing new positions in a 3-4 scheme and excelling at them.
I’m thankful for Michael Vick for being a class act when Foles took over last year, aiding Foles in his record-breaking 2013 season, a season that was key in re-establishing a winning culture in Philadephia.
I’m thankful for LeSean McCoy, who finally embraced Chip Kelly’s culture and is carving out a Hall-of-Fame worthy career.
I’m thankful for Jeremy Maclin, who has answered every single critic saying he couldn’t rebound from another torn ACL, saying he’d never have a 1000-yard season, saying he couldn’t be a number 1 receiver. He’s proved everybody wrong and has been a class act in the process.
I’m thankful for my Eagles fan brethren who have once again made Lincoln Financial Field into a house of horrors for opponents. The Eagles are unbeaten this year at home and have won 10 consecutive regular season games at the Linc.
I’m thankful for Chip Kelly, for completely changing the culture following the 2012 season; for introducing an innovative, science-driven program to get the most out of every single player; for committing to special teams excellence that has paid dividends; for turning a 4-12 disaster into a 10-6 playoff team; for making Eagles football fun to be a part of once again.
Last but not least, I’m thankful for owner Jeffrey Lurie. I’m thankful for him simply being the owner and letting everyone else do their own jobs (looking at you, Jerry Jones); for having the vision to hire a college coach in Kelly with no prior NFL experience; for turning around an organization that could have easily stayed at the bottom of the standings for years to come; for understanding the passion of us fans and responding to it in a time of turmoil; for successfully hiring terrific head coaches back-to-back and leading two successful eras of Eagles football.
Eagles fans, it is critical that on a day like today we relive just how awful things were two years ago. By doing so, we can have a full appreciation for where the Eagles stand right now as one of the NFL’s elite teams. It has been a remarkable turnaround, I am beyond proud to be an Eagles fan, and I can’t help but feel that the best is yet to come.