The Eagles didn’t show up last night against Minnesota. Michael Vick easily had his worst game as an Eagle, throwing errant and ill-advised passes and was lucky to have only turned the ball over three times. The run defense let Adrian Peterson toy with them, Dimitri Patterson was terrible once again, and the offensive line had no clue how to stop pressure from getting to Vick. All of this was…the best thing that could happen to the Eagles.
We all can read body language, and the Eagles thought the league would just roll over for them after showing everybody what they were capable of doing in just 7 minutes and 28 seconds in New York. The Eagles were cocky, arrogant, and thought they had won before Minnesota got off the bus. Well, this loss will surely wipe the smirk off of DeSean Jackson’s face. The Eagles have a very young, very fast team with stars all over the field. The blend of talent and youth causes as much immaturity as it does big plays, and the Eagles realized that they haven’t won or proven anything yet. Had they steamrolled Minnesota and destroyed Stephen McGee’s Cowboys by thirty a piece, this same disaster could have taken place in the playoffs against the Giants or Packers. Had we played that way against either of those two teams, the outcome of the game would have been the same as last year’s embarrassing exit against the Cowboys.
However, I won’t pretend that losing a shot at a first round bye isn’t a big deal. Having to beat three good teams instead of four is a considerable advantage, and I do not look forward to playing the Bears at Soldier Field. I’ve seen about four games played there now, and the Bears have had an unbelievable footing advantage in all those games. The field is poorly maintained on purpose, and Chicago is the only team that is ever properly equipped to deal with the grass. Throw in a home crowd, and Chicago realistically has a ten point advantage when playing at home despite the fact that they somehow lost to Seattle and Washington at Soldier Field.
Still, it is my belief that in the grand scheme of things, a bye will not matter. Either the Eagles will play up to their potential, or they will play the way they did last night. I don’t care how many weeks off the Eagles are given, if their effort is as pathetic as it was against Minnesota, they will lose the first game they play, and lose by a lot. If they play the way they are capable of playing, as they did in Washington or against Indianapolis, they will beat whoever they line up against. The Eagles’ “A” game is better than any other team’s “A” game out there, New England included.
Also, as the Eagles are locked into the number three seed in the playoffs, they will likely bench Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Asante Samuel against Dallas. The stars will certainly need their rest as they have taken a pounding this year. Had we won last night, we would have played everybody against Dallas, risked an injury, and we still may not have gotten a bye. Under that scenario, we would have had to play three games in twelve days. We still do, but we give our best players a long period of rest while giving the youngsters (Jamar Chaney, Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson, Trevard Lindley) who need every rep they can get more time on the field.
The Eagles have been flying high, but they sorely needed that pinch to bring them back down to Earth. They are very beatable and very human. From here on out, the Eagles need to learn their lesson that they won’t beat anybody until they prove it on the field. Unlike the Patriots, Saints, Steelers, or Bears, this team needed to hear this message loud and clear. The loss stings, but it should. Without a lot of veteran leadership on this squad, the Eagles need to learn as they go, and the Vikings just sent us a gift-wrapped, very, very humbling and valuable experience.