Rob Ellis

Grace period for the Eagles? Let's be realistic here

Grace period for the Eagles? Let's be realistic here

Don't believe the hype. Don't fall into the trap. Don't be one of the ones to get sucked in. What hype? What trap? What suck, you ask? The Eagles' grace period farce that some folks will perpetuate in the upcoming months.

As in, "Hey, whatever happens next year with the Eagles, I'm good since they've won a championship." Hogwash, I say. This is Philadelphia. That's an easy, comfortable stance to take right now in the aftermath of that Mona Lisa of a season the Eagles just completed. And you're not wrong for feeling that way right now. The entire Delaware Valley is riding the high and basking in the afterglow of what the 2017 Birds accomplished. You should allow yourself time to reflect and truly soak this in. Scream from the highest mountain top, beat your chest, put on your favorite Mummers costume, throw on your dog mask and bark for all to hear: "The Philadelphia Eagles are the Super Bowl Champs."

This isn't about February through September. It's about Week 1 of the upcoming season and beyond. We like to think that finally winning that chip will change the mindset. But fast-forward to say, early December next season, and imagine it's Game 13 and the Eagles lose when they should have won. In the process, they turn the ball over three times, Jake Elliott misses a PAT, Pederson doesn't challenge something he should have, whatever, and they lose by one. Eagles fans are going to be fine with it? Instead of your natural, gut reaction, there will be a collective step back to look at the big picture?

Take it a step further, a first-round, home playoff loss to a lesser opponent in January. Season's over. If you think the large majority of Eagles fans are going to be exiting the Linc, holding hands, singing Bob Marley songs and quoting Dr. Phil ...

I'm not saying people are going to be calling for Pederson's head after one loss or booing Carson Wentz after a pick. The city will forever have and cherish that first Super Bowl title. We may even lose some of our Philadelphia sporting paranoia and that is great and needed. And it will certainly take the sting out of some future sports heartaches. I'm just not buying the carryover into a new season in a big moment.

I recall Cole Hamels getting off to a slow start in 2009 and getting booed ... a season after the Phillies won their first World Series in 28 years and Hamels took home both the World Series and NLCS MVP. 

It doesn't mean you're not appreciative or loyal. It's just human nature as a fan to live in the moment.

Philly's most lovable athletes

Philly's most lovable athletes

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and taking into consideration the plethora of unique personalities we have right now in the city of Philadelphia, here’s a list of the most lovable current Philadelphia athletes.

Joel Embiid
This guy is a 7-2, 250-pound teddy bear. Unlike many athletes and coaches, Embiid has fun — whether it’s on the free throw line, engaging his adoring home crowd with an arm wave as the “Trust the Process” chants waft down from the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center, or trolling opposing players on social media. 

Embiid reacted as any fan in the stands would to Jake Elliott's hitting a 61-yard field goal. Or as his late night run through the streets of Philadelphia showed, JoJo gets it and he gets us.

Carson Wentz
Much like Embiid, Wentz is a flat-out stud on the field and a genuine person off it. He truly walks the walk. All this cat cares about is faith, football, and hunting. His handling of his season-ending injury and the ensuing encouragement and coaching he gave Nick Foles is a blueprint for every athlete young and old. As tough as it had to be for him, Wentz never made it about himself.    

T.J. McConnell
How can’t you love this little dude? Undrafted, overlooked, given no chance to make an NBA roster out of college, Timothy John not only stuck but has also now become a vital piece of Brett Brown’s rotation. His bromance with Dario Saric is the stuff of buddy flicks. All you needed to know about how McConnell’s teammates feel about him was their reaction after he recorded his first career triple-double against the Knicks. 

Chris Long
Short in his Philly tenure but long (no pun intended) in heart. Long embodies giving back. It’s well-documented that he donated all of his game checks this year to charitable organizations, and he also has his Waterboy Foundation (waterboy.org) which provides clean water for communities in East Africa. Add in the fact that for a part-time player, he made an inordinate amount of huge plays this season for the Eagles, and his choice of wardrobe for the Birds' Super bowl parade was on point. An Allen Iverson throwback jersey under a fake mink coat with shades. Enough said.

Jason Kelce
No list of this sort can be complete without the Eagles' Mummer-loving, speech to end all speeches, pulling center. From sporting Ocean Drive t-shirts to being a fixture in the community, Kelce is Philly through and through, even though he's from Ohio. His parade speech somehow usurped Chase F. Utley’s one-liner on Halloween 2008.

Honorable mention
Doug Pederson, Brandon Graham, Dario Saric, Lane Johnson, Brett Brown, Jalen Mills, Malcolm Jenkins.

What would it even take to make a Nick Foles trade worthwhile?

What would it even take to make a Nick Foles trade worthwhile?

Believe it or not, there are a few negatives when it comes to winning a Super Bowl. One is having your assistant coaches poached from your talons. And the feeding frenzy is well in effect for the Eagles as they have already lost their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. It happens.

The other slight downside is where you will be selecting in the draft.

The Eagles hold the 32nd overall pick (last) in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. That’s the price of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and having Mayor Kelce be the keynote speaker at the parade. Where this gets a little more worrisome is the fact that the Birds do not own a second-round pick. That went to Cleveland as part of the Carson Wentz deal — a trade-off I think any Eagle fan would take. Oh, by the way, they also don’t have a third-rounder. That went to Buffalo in the Ronald Darby trade.

So if you’re scoring at home, that’s the last pick in the first round and nothing again until the fourth? Not exactly ideal. However, they do have a “backup” quarterback who led them to a championship and won Super Bowl MVP. He will never have more value than he does right now. Let’s make a deal you say? I wouldn’t be so quick to pull that trigger.

Wentz tore his ACL and injured his LCL on Dec. 10. The Eagles' first regular-season game projects to be right around nine months from the injury. That’s assuming no setbacks. It could also mean a compromised football workload while he rehabs the knee — OTAs, the early portion of training camp, etc. There is no doubt Wentz will go above and beyond when it comes to making it back for the start of next season. But sometimes the mind will lose out to the body. There is no guarantee he will be ready to start the season. Wentz also plays a very aggressive style of football. I, for one, have no problem with the way he plays. I thought he did a good job for the most part of avoiding the unnecessary big blows. The play he got hurt on was a good football play, trying to score a touchdown. But because of his athleticism and strength, he is going to get hit more than most QBs.

Even taking Wentz's knee injury out of the equation for a moment, ask yourself how many backups in the NFL could have stepped in and accomplished what Nick Foles did during that magical run? I did and the answer was none. He’s the best backup in the league. Foles went toe-to-toe with the G.O.A.T. and The Hoodie on the biggest stage and dropped 41. Truly remarkable. Is a late first- or second-rounder worth that?

There is no doubt that if say, the Cardinals, offered you the 15th overall pick, that could be a game-changer. There are offers that are too good to refuse. But a mid-second-rounder for the value that Foles gives you? The smart play could be to hold on to the known quantity. The NFL is littered with backups who can’t play. The types of guys who bring an end to your season no matter how good you are in other areas. Howie Roseman has shown himself to be very deft at making deals and acquiring draft picks, so the cupboard may be thin right now, but some groceries could be added with some wheeling and dealing.  

The Eagles have the ultimate insurance policy. It might be wise to keep making the payments just in case.