Eagles Insider

The real difference between the Eagles and Cowboys

Eagles Insider

As bad as things are here, they’re a lot worse 1,500 miles to the southwest.

Look at how these two franchises are responding to their poor starts. 

In Dallas, anonymous players are already blasting the coaching staff after six weeks. It’s already falling apart, and Mike McCarthy has coached six games.

In Philly, you get Rodney McLeod saying, “What’s encouraging is the fight. And that’s the character of this team. Not to quit, to continue to believe in ourselves. No matter what’s going on in the game or throughout the week, we stick together.”

No matter how bad things have gotten around here, these players have always stayed together and never stopped believing in their coach and in each other. 

That’s why they’ve been able to do what they’ve done. Won a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback. Made the playoffs the last two years after terrible starts. Overcame an insane rash of injuries to remain competitive just about every Sunday.

If you don’t have anything to believe in, you’re not going to keep fighting.

In the five years since Doug Pederson came in and restored the Andy Reid team-first culture here, there’s been just one notable incident of a player lashing out against the coach and the locker room, and that was someone who spent 10 years with the Cowboys.

Where do you think Orlando Scandrick learned to become that kind of player? That kind of person?

 

Back in 2009, I was working on the book “The 50 Greatest Plays in Eagles History,” and I asked John Harbaugh why the Eagles had so much more success over the past decade than the Cowboys, even though the Cowboys always seemed to have more talent.

Harbaugh’s answer resonates today:

Why is that? Because what Andy Reid and his program stand for is the opposite of what the Cowboys stand for. The Cowboys are a star system. It's all about building around individuals first and collecting talent, collecting great players. Andy has always been about building a team. And over the long haul, it's a team sport, and one of the greatest examples of that is what's happened with the Eagles and the Cowboys over the last 10 years. The Cowboys stand for everything that's wrong with the NFL.

Harbaugh

Strong words but spot on.

For all their talent, all their great players, the Cowboys have won three playoff games since 1995. They haven’t reached the NFC Championship Game since 1995, and they haven’t won a road playoff game since 1991.

The Eagles since 2000: 14 playoff wins, six NFC Championship Game appearances, two Super Bowls, one championship.

The Cowboys since 2000: Three playoff wins, no NFC Championship Game appearances, no Super Bowls, no championships.

It goes to the top, and Jeff Lurie and Jerry Jones have built franchises in opposite ways.

The Jeff Lurie Way means a strong culture, an emphasis on “we” over “me” and a belief that if you bring in high-character people who are good at what they do, you’ll have long-term success.

Jerry Jones is all about Jerry Jones. Jerry loves the spotlight, loves the camera, loves playing GM, loves reminiscing about those great Cowboys teams of a quarter of a century ago. But when it comes to building a football team that can contend for a championship, he’s lost his way.

So when I look at the standings, and I see that both teams are struggling, I can’t help but think that the Eagles are in a much better position.

Because the difference between the Eagles and Cowboys is that the Eagles are a bad team, and the Cowboys are a bad franchise.

And it’s a heck of a lot easier to fix a bad team.