By now the reality has long set in that the Eagles were eliminated quickly from the playoffs and that instead of preparing for the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs, we are all spectators. The depression, quite honestly, has not faded, and it will intensify this weekend watching the Saints and Cardinals and the Cowboys and the Vikings. It will last all the way through the Super Bowl when, finally, the 2009 NFL season will be over.
There is not another team for which I am "rooting" to win the Super Bowl. I've heard people say that now that the Eagles are out they are going to hope that this team or that team wins. Frankly, I wish they all could lose. I don't have a single thread of an emotional attachment to any team or, really, to any player wearing a different uniform.
That said, I'll watch the playoffs. Every bit of every game, because I love the NFL so much. I am going to watch partially, too, as a study guide. We saw how the Eagles matched up against Dallas the last two weeks and we made notes on the areas in which the Eagles much improve to take back their rivalry against the Cowboys, so how will Minnesota's strengths balance in Sunday's contest? Which defense gets to break serve in Saturday's Arizona-New Orleans game?
How will a run-heavy approach by the Jets keep them in a game against a Chargers offense that scores points by the bucketful? And is the Ravens defense and its ball-control offense enough to upset the Colts and the Peyton Manning train?
I'm going to look at everything. I want to see the quarterbacks and how they perform on the big stages, completely understanding how important it is for the quarterback to play well in playoff moments. I will take note of the run/pass ratio, just for you, Eagles fans, especially in the first half of games and when teams fall behind by a couple of scores. We can talk about it on Monday, deal?
I wonder how many players actually watch the games. Some love football and eat up every part of the experience. Some, believe it or not, don't pay attention to the sport unless they are playing. I've always found that odd, but that's the way it is. There are some players, many players, who love the job, and love playing the game, but they don't necessarily love the game.
Coaches, no doubt, watch the game with a completely different appreciation and understanding of what is truly happening. A television picture provides only a fragment of what really happens. You too often don't see the pre-snap movement, or get an explanation of the subtle signals from one player to another as an audible is called, or how the coverages change after the play begins. I think coaches watch just to enjoy the game. All of the trends and statistics and facts are later extrapolated and digested.
At a time this late in the week when our juices are usually flowing as the Eagles prepare for a huge playoff game, we are instead killing time and waiting for next season to begin. It's amazing how invested we become emotionally in the season, in the team, and it is an unwilling period of time to withdrawal from the day-to-day passion a season creates.
* NEWS, NOTES AND THIS AND THAT *
- Nothing to report on the Eagles' General Manager front. You will know when we know.
- I really haven't talked about the 2010 schedule, but let's touch on it now. I love it. Great schedule, especially at home. Think about the non-NFC East teams coming to Lincoln Financial Field: Indianapolis, Atlanta, Green Bay, Minnesota, Houston. That is a power-packed group. Road trips to San Francisco, Jacksonville, Detroit, Chicago (again) and Tennessee provide a list of teams that really could be very good or not very good.
- By the way, the report that came out recently that the Eagles would play San Francisco in London, and not in San Francisco, is just that for now, a report.
- Congrats to both David Akers and DeSean Jackson for earning All-Pro honors from The Sporting News. Akers has really rebounded from his struggles of a couple of years ago from 40-49 yards and it makes you wonder if it was the change in holder from Mike Bartrum to Jon Dorenbos or the new holder (Sav Rocca). Seems like if the timing in the kicking game is disrupted even a little bit, everything goes haywire. And shouldn't special teams coordinator Ted Daisher feel really, really good that two of his guys (Jackson as a punt return man; Akers as the kicker) are All-Pro players?
- I'm not sure if Jeremiah Trotter will ever again play in an Eagles uniform, but I will say there is no player who enjoyed the day-to-day grind as much as Trotter in his third time around as an Eagle. Good to see that he took advantage of the situation.