COMMENTARY | Eagles fans still bleed green through and through, but after suffering through an agonizing 4-12 season last year, most of us were singing the blues. Perhaps we had gotten too used to rooting for a perennial contender, but after the humiliating "dream team" debacle in 2011 and an abysmal finish to 2012, it was clear the team needed a major overhaul.
None of us has a clue how the Chip Kelly era is going to play out in Philadelphia, but one thing's for sure - it's freaking hard being an Eagles fan! Here are my top five reasons why:
1. Our Reputation Precedes Us. I'm not sure when it happened, but the "Gold Standard" somehow has become the team that many love to hate. And Eagles fans are right in the center of the bullseye. Maybe it's our deep blue-collar roots and love of swilling beer that strikes some people as unrefined. Or maybe it's our, um, shyness about voicing our opinions that turns them off. Whatever the case, deserved or not, Eagles fans are often painted as rude, loony and unfriendly -- even to Santa Claus himself. But the truth is, we're not that different than fans in any other Northeastern city such as New York or Pittsburgh. Can't we all just get along?
2. Sticking with Michael Vick. Michael Vick is a tremendous athlete, a natural competitor, and a pretty tough cookie for a quarterback. But aside from some unexpected heroics in 2010, he has done nothing to prove that he's capable of leading the Eagles to the promised land. He turns over the ball at an alarming rate, still struggles to read defenses, and isn't nearly as quick of mind as he is of foot. Whether Chip Kelly sees Vick as a stopgap quarterback or someone who can actually deliver wins is unknown. But if Vick finally has a breakout season, nobody will be happier than me. I just don't see it happening this late in his career.
3. The Disappearing Defense. Once upon a time, the Eagles defense was feared. Quarterbacks had fire-breathers like Reggie White and Jerome Brown hunting them down, while runners and receivers trembled at the prospect of getting their bells rung by the likes of Brian Dawkins, Seth Joyner and Andre Waters. My, how times have changed. The Birds' defense didn't even show up in 2012, resulting in ridiculous quarterback ratings for many of their foes. For the diehard Eagles faithful, it was perhaps the worst way the team could have self-destructed, considering the Birds' former dominance on defense.
4. Players Who Only Talk the Talk. When will players learn not to make boastful statements to the media that are destined to blow up in their faces? Here's a novel idea: don't label yourselves a "Dream Team," a "Dynasty" or anything else that sounds ridiculous until you've won at least one Super Bowl. Fans don't care how "talented" the team is if that talent doesn't add up to victories. It's time to finally put up or shut up.
5. No Lombardi Trophy. Does this really need further explanation? All three of our division rivals have won multiple Super Bowls. The Eagles are winless in the big game. If Chip Kelly is able to deliver a Lombardi Trophy to the City of Brotherly Love, he will instantly become a beloved legend among Birds fans.
Gary Strassberg has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He has worked for the E.W. Scripps Company, The Nielsen Company, and other media outlets.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Michael Vick
- Chip Kelly