by DMtShooter, Five Tool Tool
Sports fans, like everyone else on the planet, live in the story they tell of their lives. Philly Fan's story isn't a pleasant one. And neither, for the most part, is what they think will happen to their football team this year.
You see, it's all been too long, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. They've been together forever, with the window of opportunity slamming shut on them either when Terrell Owens went traitorous, when Reid's Kids went Al Qaida, or when David Akers couldn't tie the game against the Giants from distance last December. We all know how the story ends, year after year, and it never ends with a parade down Broad Street.
The Eagles are too old. McNabb is too brittle. They didn't sign the #1 WR that's absolutely essential to opening up the attack. The offensive line, at some point, will have to rely on Winston "Turnstile" Justice. The linebackers are never good enough. The special teams have killed them for the past three years. Brian Dawkins is spent, and Lito Sheppard is overrated, and Asante Samuel is already hurt, and yada yada yada.
Every team has a negative story, and for 31 out of 32, it'll be true. But the funny thing about stories is that for one team, the story changes. Suddenly, Eli Manning can win a big game. So can Peyton Manning. Even dramatically absurd stories like Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson.
So, assuming the Patriots don't just overwhelm the league and crush through the playoffs like the avenging armies of Hell (and Lucifer's boys have much better linebackers and rarely, if ever, let their quarterback get battered like the Pats did in the SB), some team will have their negative story broken.
But you see, only Eagles Fan really seems to embrace this kind of nonsense. In fact, we tell it to ourselves, to make sure that we don't get our hopes up, because being the first to piss on your team's hopes makes you cooler and smarter than all of the other folks on the bus.
So... can they defy the expectations and the franchise's history since 1960? Well, there are some highly encouraging signs. The schedule is quite easy. The defense will be a lot better with Samuel, assuming he's eventually healthy. They'll get after the quarterback better, since the dessicated remains of Javon Kearse will no longer be around, and they've improved the pass rush with LB Chris Clemons from Oakland. Akers and Sav Rocca probably can't be worse than they were last year, and Desean Jackson has to better than Reno Mahe. (Please, please, please, let us move on from the Reno Mahe Era.)
There is also this... the NFC East, after a season in which every team but the 8-8 Birds made the playoffs, should be worse this year. A lot, lot worse.
The Redskins are trying an unprecedented experiment in giving the head coaching and offensive coordinator reins to a guy (Jim Zorn) that has never held this level of job before. Maybe they'll be healthier, especially on the offensive line, and maybe Jason Campbell is ready to lead... but it's a Daniel Snyder production, so I'm not exactly quaking in fear.
The Cowboys still haven't won a playoff game this millennium, have lost a great deal of their depth with Bill Parcells plundering them to staff Miami, and have been incredibly lucky on injuries for years now. (There's also the fact that with Parcells gone for an increasing amount of time, the magic that is Wade Phillips is going to take hold.)
The Giants might have used up a lifetime of luck last year, and they also lost Michael Strahan to retirement, Jeremy Shockey for future draft picks, and still have to worry a lot about keeping Plax Burress healthy. Add it all up, and it should be that hard to be two of three games better than last year.
So I'm going to be cautiously optimistic, hope for 11-5 and a first round bye (seriously, who in the NFC is going to win 3 out of every 4 games this year? No one in the West or South), and wonder, really, why the story can't be different this year. McNabb's a year past the knee injury, Bryan Westbrook is still the best RB in franchise history, the OL is still good, and Reid has to have more focus than last year.
It probably won't, of course... but what the hell. Why watch sports if you refuse to hope that you're wrong?
by DMtShooter, Five Tool Tool